2016 Classics Challenge – The Book Thief

the book thiefI mentioned a couple of weeks ago that I was taking part in the 2016 Classics Challenge and that I would try to ensure that one book a month would be a “classic” – however classic is defined. The first book I’ve chosen is The Book Thief, the Markus Zusak novel about a young girl living in Germany during the Second World War. It was once of the first books I reviewed on here almost five years ago. I haven’t written another review, but my opinion from 2011 hasn’t changed at all. It’s a wonderful, powerful, beautiful love letter to the power of words. I chose it partly because of how much I love it and the fact it’s a book I would urge everyone to read but also because this week sees the UK commemorate Holocaust Memorial Day with a theme of “Don’t Stand By” and the book fits perfectly into the day and the theme.

This year’s challenge encourages readers to consider a number of questions so here’s my answers for The Book Thief:

WHEN I Discovered This Classic

I first read The Book Thief about 7/8 years ago and have read it 4 times since. I was working for a charity which promotes Holocaust remembrance and education at the time and part of my job was to suggest reading material for people wanting to find out more. I immediately fell in love with the book and it’s a firm favourite.

WHY I Chose to Read It

As I said above, it’s a beautiful story which explores the power of words. It was the perfect book to read as we approach Holocaust Memorial Day as it emphasises how seemingly ordinary people can make a big change to the lives of others. The scene where Hans Huberman offers an old Jewish man being marched to Dachau a little bit of bread is the very definition of not standing by.

WHAT Makes It A Classic

It’s always hard to know how to classify a classic, particularly a newer novel but I think in the case of The Book Thief it’s the impact of the novel which makes it a classic for me. It includes difficult issues in an easily understood way and is powerful without being patronising, sad without being mawkish. Whenever I think of a book about the Holocaust it’s top of the list.

WHAT I Thought of This Classic

Absolutely love it – see my review for more thoughts.

WILL It Stay A Classic

Yes, and only grow in stature as the years go by.

WHO I’d Recommend It To

Everyone, but in particular people looking for a greater understanding of the Holocaust, the decisions of “normal” Germans and those who love the power of words.

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