Mark Reads ‘The Book Thief’: Chapters 13-14

In the thirteenth and fourteenth chapters of The Book Thief, Death blatantly foreshadows what is to come (it’s awful) and then teases us by telling us about nothing but happiness. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read The Book Thief.

the shoulder shrug

I don’t think I’ve ever thoroughly enjoyed a book this quickly. I’m not even 15% through The Book Thief and I already want to binge read this book and finish it off in one sitting. Good lord, I love this story and the way it is written. That’s not say that it’s perfect. I’m still a bit weirded out by the way Death constantly is like, “HEY HERE ARE FUTURE PLOT POINTS, LOL,” but I’m also willing to accept that they might be dropped here and there on purpose. Style-wise, as I said before, this is not something I’m willing to go to bat on, as I know that the way Zusak writes could potentially be very grating to some of you. That’s ok. We all have varying tastes. But as I came to the end of chapter fourteen, I had a gigantic grin on my face and I really appreciated that this book just plain made me feel good. And that is awesome.

Shall we?


Right off the bat, Death tells us that it takes Liesel 463 days to steal her second book, going as far to tell us that it was stolen out of a book burning and that it was also called The Shoulder Shrug. We’re given very little context for this all except for a long passage that starts off as such:

In a way, it was destiny.

You see, people may tell you that Nazi Germany was built on anti-Semitism, a somewhat overzealous leader, and a nation of hate-fed bigots, but it would all have come to nothing had the Germans not loved one particular activity:

To burn.

What follows is a bit of cultural explanation about the Germans love of fire. I am curious to know if this bit of social acceptance and obsession with fire is actually accurate, as I couldn’t find anything online about it. (And really, try to Google the concept. I literally could not think of anything proper to get a good result. “German obsession with fire in world war II” just looks really odd.)

Can anyone else with knowledge about this provide some context? I’m interested.

Anyway, so now I know how Liesel acquires her second book via theft: from a book burning. And she does so with an angry, furious pride. But Death isn’t content just giving us that answer. He has to (quite literally) pose a few questions to keep us thinking:

The question, of course, should be why?

What was there to be angry about?

What had happened in the past four or five months to culminate in such a feeling?

In short, the answer traveled from Himmel Street, to the Führer, to the unfindable location of her real mother, and back again.

Like most misery, it started with apparent happiness.

GREAT. So we will be DESTROYED BY SADNESS. Ugh, this book is so happy so far! I suppose the sadness was INEVITABLE.


The good news is that things are not quite awful yet, so I can at least enjoy the family that Liesel now has in Molching.

She loved her papa, Hans Hubermann, and even her foster mother, despite the abusages and verbal assaults. She loved and hated her best friend, Rudy Steiner, which was perfectly normal. And she loved the fact that despite her failure in the classroom, her reading and writing were definitely improving and would soon be on the verge of something respectable. All of this resulted in at least some form of contentment and would soon be built upon to approach the concept of Being Happy.

What’s important here is that Death/Zusak make the point to say that the “Keys To Happiness,” as they are called, are specific to Liesel, suggesting there is no universal key for everyone else. I really enjoy that it’s not an issue of finding these grand, high-in-the-sky goals either.

That first key to happiness comes just eight days before Christmas, when Liesel wakes up from a familiar nightmare. It’s the train again, her brother’s death still fresh on her mind. Hans, as always, is there to comfort her, and they begin their nightly ritual of reading through The Grave Digger’s Handbook. They’re on chapter eleven this particular night, just one chapter short of the end. A few hours later, Hans closes the book, only one chapter remaining, and hopes to sleep.

Oh god, I love what happens next.

The light was out for barely a minute when Liesel spoke to him across the dark.


He only made a noise, somewhere in his throat.

“Are you awake, Papa?”


Up on one elbow. “Can we finish the book, please?”

There was a long breath, the scratchery of hand on whiskers, and then the light. He opened the book and began. “’Chapter Twelve: Respecting the Graveyard.’”

Oh, I love it.  DO IT DO IT DO IT. How many of you have stayed up until daylight to finish a book? THIS GUY RIGHT HERE HAS. More times than I can count, really, especially during the last three to four years that I lived with my parents. LIESEL, WE ARE ~SOULMATES~

Hours later, as light crept in to Liesel’s bedroom, she finishes The Grave Digger’s Handbook. She has read her first book at ten years old, and a difficult book at that.

When the book closed, they shared a sideways glance. Papa spoke.

“We made it, huh?”

Liesel, half-wrapped in a blanket, studied the black book in her hand and its silver lettering. She nodded, dry-mouthed and early-morning hungry. It was one of those moments of perfect tiredness, of having conquered not only the work at hand, but the night who had blocked the way.

I not only felt that way about books, but I remember experiencing that exact sensation in college a lot, having to pull all-nighters studying or writing lengthy papers. There’s something about defying your internal clock and rationality and staying up all night to accomplish something, and that feeling can be so euphoric.

Liesel still held the book. She gripped it tighter as the snow turned orange. On one of the rooftops, she could see a small boy, sitting, looking at the sky. “His name was Werner,” she mentioned. The words trotted out, involuntarily.

Papa said, “Yes.”

What’s so unique about the relationship between Liesel and Hans is how often they can say so little and yet communicate entire volumes of ideas, concepts, feelings, emotions, or facts. It’s this strange, unspoken bond that makes me love them so much. There really couldn’t have been a more perfect foster father for Liesel to end up with.

In school, Liesel’s reading is not only improving, but she decides to consciously work on the way she presents herself in class, most especially to avoid another paddling from Sister Maria in the hallways. She wants to avoid that humiliation again; though it’s not said, I think that she also has done enough to give herself a reputation as one not to be bothered with as well. Happiness Key #2, it seems.

The final piece of happiness comes on Christmas morning. Liesel knows her foster parents are poor, and thus does not expect that she will get much of anything (or anything at all that Christmas, so she’s pleasantly surprised to find a single present, wrapped in newspaper, waiting for her under the tree.

Unfurling the paper, she unwrapped two small books. The first one, Faust the Dog, was written by a man named Mattheus Ottleberg. All told, she would read that book thirteen times. On Christmas Eve, she read the first twenty pages at the kitchen table while Papa and Hans Junior argued about a thing she did not understand. Something called politics.

Thirteen times in one day? Or total? PLEASE SPECIFY, DEATH.

The second book was called The Lighthouse and was written by a woman, Ingrid Rippinstein. That particular book was a little longer, so Liesel was able to get through it only nine times, her pace increasing ever so slightly by the end of such prolific readings.

I used to do this with those Goosebumps books that were so popular in the 90s. (In hindsight, SO MANY OF THOSE were utter rip-offs of Poe, Lovecraft, and The Twilight Zone. Hmph.) I would beg my mom to either buy them when we made trips to our local Wal Mart, where hundreds of them would be lined up with their colorful spines, or I’d ask for money whenever we had book fairs. I would read those books in maybe an hour. Maybe 90 minutes. Then I’d trace my way back to see what clues the author had dropped along the way. If it was especially good, I might read it three times in one single day.

Ugh, I love that this book is about LOVING BOOKS. It truly ~speaks to me~

I like that Liesel has no presumption about Santa Claus and knows that her parents bought her the books. So when she asks Hans how he got the money to buy her books, knowing they have none, the true dedication he has to his foster daughter is shown. Eight cigarettes per book. He traded them in town in order to give her those books for Christmas.

Liesel swapped a customary wink with her papa and finished eating her soup. As always, one of her books was next to her. She could not deny that the answer to her question had been more than satisfactory. There were not many people who could say that their education had been paid for cigarettes.

I love that it comes so soon after they’d finished The Grave Digger’s Handbook. I’m sure that Hans knew that Liesel would be itching to read more. SERIOUSLY, BEST FATHER FIGURE EVER.

Rosa does make a good point, though, that he hasn’t done quite the same for her, despite her need for a new dress or shoes. A few days later, he comes home with a box of eggs. Not quite the same, but Rosa appreciates it all the same.

Mama didn’t complain.

She even sang to herself while she cooked those eggs to the brink of burndom. It appeared that there was great joy in cigarettes, and it was a happy time in the Hubermann household.

It ended a few weeks later.


About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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90 Responses to Mark Reads ‘The Book Thief’: Chapters 13-14

  1. SophiePatronus says:

    I remember getting in trouble several times when I first read Harry Potter, because of how ridiculously late I would stay up, telling myself that I'd only finish this chapter, but maybe just half of the next one too, oh hey look I've read ninety pages…

    Is it weird that I love the phrase "to the brink of burndom"? I don't even think burndom is a word. I love it.

    • @Zippy8604 says:

      my dad got me Lord of the Rings so that I would read something other than Harry Potter over and over again.
      I would also stay up late and knew exactly when to turn off the light so that my dad, who woke up at 4 in the morning, wouldn't know that I had been up all night reading.

      • anninyn says:

        My dad taught me to read using The Lord of The Rings. If only he;d known how nerdy his daughter would become…

        • ThreeBooks says:

          My mom used to read the Hobbit aloud to me and my brother, and if memory serves correctly, Chrestomanci as well. I forgot all about them for years, however… but I still turned out pretty nerdy. 😀

        • SophiePatronus says:

          My dad is actually the source of much of my nerdiness. He's possibly nerdier than I am.
          Come to think of it, I rarely got in trouble with him for staying up late reading; it was mostly my mom who'd get annoyed. Hmm.

          • pennylane27 says:

            My mum used to take books away from me because I kept saying "I'll just finish this chapter" and then she'd find me in the middle of the next one or more. My dad used to hate that she did that.

    • t09yavorski says:

      I had summer camp the day after Deathly Hallows came out so my mom bought me the book on the way to the bus. I finished it within two days and I don't remember getting any sleep that trip.

      • hpfish13 says:

        My younger brother was at summer camp when he picked up Sorcerer's Stone for the first time (one of the other kids had it). He spent pretty much all of his free time reading the book instead of doing things around camp. My mother was both upset and amused…..

    • knut_knut says:

      Are you me? Seriously, your comment is pretty much my childhood in a nutshell. My parents had noooooooo sympathy for me if I stayed up all night reading- I'm convinced they made the next day even more difficult in order to teach me a lesson. It didn't work though 🙂

    • PatR says:

      I was a lucky kid whose parents didn't care how late I stayed up as long as I was quiet and wasn't bothering them. I'd could read or listen quietly to music – no matter. But both my parents were readers and my mom would read to us in the car and I tried really hard to learn to walk and read at the same time coming home from school.

      The books we read together were shared experiences and irreplaceable. It's not the same as watching TV together, that's for sure.

    • Lindsey says:

      "I would stay up, telling myself that I'd only finish this chapter, but maybe just half of the next one too, oh hey look I've read ninety pages…"
      Haha this is me pretty much every night 🙂

      • SophiePatronus says:

        These days, I only do that if I'm reading a particularly excellent book for the first time. (Or still sometimes if I'm rereading HP…)
        I sort of cherish each moment of sleep. Haha.

  2. @ladylately says:

    I'm kind of in love with the fact that because of how you read these books, it comes across as Death just straight-up trolling you.

    It makes me laugh, and I was sobbing my way through the entire book when I read it. In one sitting as well.

    • FlameRaven says:

      It's true. I actually finished the book yesterday (not prepared) and at some point Death dropped one of his characteristic spoilers that left me frustrated for like a quarter of the book. D:

      I don't know, though, I think Death does partially because he doesn't seem to follow time the same way, and also does it a little bit to prepare us. Because we forget.

      It's sort of like a movie that opens with a character saying "this is the story of how I died" or shows us a dying/dead body. Despite the fact that you then know they're going to die GOING IN, I almost always forget that by the time that scene actually rolls around. Like, we were already told about that scene with the broken plane and the pilot and the teddy bear, and then I was caught off-guard when we eventually see that scene in "real time" within the narrative. o_O

      • hpfish13 says:

        Your comment really makes me want to watch Tangled again! That is all…

        • FlameRaven says:

          Heeeee. That is one of the movies I was referring to, yeah. Because seriously. That's the opening line and I was STILL WORRIED during that last scene. So much love for that movie. <3DVD comes out in a week, too.

          • hpfish13 says:

            Really!! Yay!!! I'm thinking about buying it and the soundtrack at the same time (saves me money on shipping)!

            • FlameRaven says:

              That is what I heard. I've been eagerly awaiting it on DVD for months. I, uh, may have seen in 3 times in theatres, which is pretty much the most I've seen any movie in theatres since Star Trek (2) and Lord of the Rings (9).

              • hpfish13 says:

                Yeah, I seriously love that movie. I keep describing it by saying I just want give the whole movie a hug (if such a thing is possible). I only saw it twice, but that's because it left the theater before I could see it a third time.

                • FlameRaven says:

                  I was sad the movie got more or less snubbed in all the awards shows. Granted it's probably not as strong as How to Train Your Dragon or Toy Story 3, but it is a shining example of how you do character animation right. Not to mention notable for its subversion of standard Disney tropes and exploration of mimicking 2D animation's fluidity with CGI. The movie is amazing because all of its characters seem alive, not just through solid design, but because their expressions and gestures are so well done. As an illustrator this kind of thing is fascinating, and I wish the movie had gotten more attention for it.

                  • hpfish13 says:

                    Its interesting to get another person's take on it, because (as someone really interested in voice acting), the voice work was what really sold the movie for me. Don't get me wrong, I loved the artistry in the animation, but what I loved most is that I the cast managed to make me forget they were actors playing the roles (it kept me from going "Hey, its that voice").

                    Also, I loved How to Train Your Dragon (and I wasn't expecting to), the music in that movie was stunning.

                    • FlameRaven says:

                      It is interesting, because voice acting is not something I notice as much. Sometimes I notice the soundtrack, sometimes not… I recall hearing that HTTYD's score was very impressive, but I didn't catch it at the time– although that may have to do with the fact that the only time I saw it was in the 2nd row at the theatre, which gave me a really godawful migraine.

                    • LOTRjunkie says:

                      Especially Jonsi's song in the credits!

      • LOTRjunkie says:

        It's kind of like FFVII: Crisis Core. You know Zack's going to die, but it's still an awesome game.

  3. I love the Hans/Rosa moment at the end of the chapter.

    Thirteen times in one day? Or total? PLEASE SPECIFY, DEATH.

    I understood the 13 and 9 to be how many times Liesel read the books in total.

    • cait0716 says:

      This was my understanding, too. I'm no further than Mark, so these are just musings, but I get the impression that Liesel dies fairly young. I think in an earlier chapter, Death mentioned that she was writing her journal only four years after meeting Hans. So when I did the math of 14 books stolen, each read less than 15 times, and a girl who apparently reads constantly, it kind of drove the point home that she won't be around for very long.

      • FlameRaven says:

        That was my initial thought, too, and then I remembered someone saying that Zusak wrote this because of his grandmother's stories, and I thought Liesel was meant to be based on his grandmother. Which made me less certain about Liesel's fate.

        • cait0716 says:

          Interesting point. But Death only met the book thief three times, so the third time (during the fire-bombing) must have been the final time, i.e. when she dies and he takes the book. But maybe he just gets the journal and hasn't yet met her for the final (fourth) time when he's telling her tale. So many possibilities. Must keep reading.

  4. monkeybutter says:

    Liesel's requirements for happiness are security, normality, and BOOKS. I love her.

    That feeling you get after staying up all night to finish an engrossing book is amazing; you're exhausted but contented. Even if it's something you're forcing yourself to read in large chunks otherwise you'll never finish it — a Russian emigree's longwinded, tedious rape fantasy, perhaps — it feels great to make it until morning. When you finish the footnotes on a paper just as dawn is breaking it's getting light outside and the birds are chirping, it's hard not to think "I won!" Liesel, dazed and wrapped up in her blanket, is the perfect image of that feeling.

  5. anninyn says:

    Oh Liesel, I love you. I think I might BE you, except that I am 25 and English. But those things are all I ever wanted too.

    To this day, I spend most of my disposable income on books. I learned to read super early, and I can complete a novel in a day, at which point I reread it a few days later. This time slower, looking at how the author works their craft, at the clues they drop. Getting rid of books, even to charity shops, makes me cry. I have so many books theres no space for anything else.

    Books loved me and gave me a way out when everything was awful. When my dad started hiding vodka bottles under my pillow books gave me better fathers, or told me this sort of father was nothing to be ashamed of. When my godmother died, books helped me deal with death. Books taught me how to cook when my dad stopped, books taught me how to dream, and strive and how to be. I love books.

    • Cam says:

      🙂 This is TOTALLY my childhood, too. This is my second-favourite part of Mark Reads, after the actual reviews: the commenters have had a lot of the same experiences, we can all relate to each other. My "years of hell" were 11-14, the middle school period. I read just about the entire school library, to the point where I would skip lunch to go hang out there and talk books with the librarians and a couple other kids. Read to escape bullies, violence at home, friends who walked away for the "cool crowd". My bedroom right now has enormous wall book cases, and there are PILES of literature ALL OVER the floor. I literally cannot go to libraries/book sales of any kind when I'm working on a project, I always come away with more than I can read with my current crazy schedule.

  6. cait0716 says:

    I've stayed up late to read books, but I try to do that only when I can spend the entire next day sleeping. I pulled an all-nighter exactly once and it was the worst feeling in the world. I felt like a zombie for days. I liked that Death mentioned Liesel not being selfless enough to care how exhausted Hans was, because it did strike me as very selfish. Then again, I get mad when anything disrupts my eight hours of sleep.

    I smiled at Death's line about Hans. "It's hard not to like a man who not only notices the colors, but speaks them". It pulled me out of the story a bit, but just enough to remind me that Death is narrating. Death comments on the colors, so he's going to notice when someone else does to. It was a very nice character moment for both of them.

  7. canyonoflight says:

    I stay up all night finishing a book all the time. I did that with another book by Zuzak a couple of weeks ago called Getting the Girl. It's not nearly as good as The Book Thief, but it was enjoyable and I read the whole thing in one night. I think I went to bed at 4am. Oops.

  8. potlid007 says:

    In regards to the whole Germans and their obsession with fire:

    They did burn a lot of books. There's a monument in Berlin that's actually really cool that is representative of all of the book burnings that took place in the city. It's underground and you peer through a glass in the floor and there is a giant room of white book shelves with nothing on them. It's intense.

    But anyway, according to Wikipedia (and you know, always reliable 24/7), in one day 25,000 books that were labeled "Un-German" were burned.
    Death could also be referring to Concentration Camps and the crematoriums.
    Also, during the Night of Broken Glass in 1938, 267 synagogues were set on fire.
    Death also might be referring symbolically to setting the country ablaze with Nazi propaganda.

    This is what happens when I don't want to do work…

  9. theresa1128429 says:

    Staying up all night to finish a good book really is one of the best joys in life!
    Glad to be reading with you again, school got hectic and I fell behind.

    PS: I got to the point where I was reading 3+ RL Stein books per day. My mom got pissed for having to spend so much money 🙂

    • I was the same way with books. My mum would take me to the used bookstore and give me a number, then I'd go fill my basket with anything that struck my fancy.. good times, those. Now I don't get new books very often, not because of money, but because my health issues keep me confined to the house for weeks at a time.

      • theresa1128429 says:

        You should invest in a kindle. You can just instantly download your new books that way! I was thankful for it when I raced through the Hunger Games trilogy. Don't think I would've survived waiting for a chance to get to the bookstore!

      • cait0716 says:

        I know it doesn't compare to a bookstore, but online retailers mean you never ever have to leave your house to get new books.

        My mom and I used to take day trips down to the Tattered Cover a few times a year, which as a fellow Coloradan I hope you've been to. It was four stories of books plus a restaurant. We'd spend all afternoon wandering around, then go get dinner at the restaurant upstairs, and I always had a # of books limit, too. When the Cherry Creek location closed, I think part of my soul died.

        • Cait, I visited the Tattered Cover once, but I live in the Springs. We used to have the coolest place called the Chinook Book Shop. When it closed I was devastated! They had an indoor treehouse filled with pillows for the kids to read in while our parents shopped.

  10. knut_knut says:

    Reading about Liesel's relationship with books is like taking a trip into my childhood. For me, it was the Baby Sitter's Club and Saddle Club books, not Goosebumps (too scary) that I religiously bought 🙂 When I was younger, I would want to go to the library about twice a day, every day, and when I was banned from doing that, it was the bookstore.

    • monkeybutter says:

      Where you banned by your parents or the library? Is there a good story behind this?

      • knut_knut says:

        haha, I should have specified; I was banned by my parents. Although, I did get thrown out when I was in high school because I broke the microfiche machine (I TOLD the librarian I would break it and she shouldn't leave me alone with it, but did she listen? No)

    • cait0716 says:

      I loved the Baby-Sitter's Club. I was such a Mary-Anne (though with Stacy's math skills). I read those books more times than I can count and now slightly regret giving them all to my cousin.

      • knut_knut says:

        Claudia was always my fav 🙂 I also really liked the Baby Sitters Little Sister series

      • monkeybutter says:

        I was everyone except Stacy or Jessi, because I was neither fashionable nor graceful. My BSC books (that didn't disappear into friends' hands) are packed up in my parent's attic, and they barely have covers. I loved them so much when I was a little kid! Imagine my disappointment when I was 13 and not nearly as mature as any of them!

        (Oops, misspelled Jessi!)

        • cait0716 says:

          I know what you mean. In grade school I was so convinced that life would be perfect in middle school thanks to these books. And then it really wasn't and I was super disappointed. I was also mad when I turned 11 and my ballet master told me I wasn't old enough for pointe, something about the bones not having fully formed yet (we had to wait until we were 13). It took a bit of the shine off Jessi when I realized how improbable her character was

    • Stephanie says:

      Ahhh, Saddle Club!! I loved the books and the TV show when I was growing up. I have a job with kids at a barn this summer, and we were brainstorming movies/tv shows to show them, and Saddle Club was the first one to come up.

      • knut_knut says:

        I LOOOVED the Saddle Club and Pony Pals when I was younger. I still have my Saddle Club figurines/model horses! I think it still airs early Saturday mornings, actually

  11. hungriestgame says:

    ugh i never have anything intelligent to say except that i just love this book so hard.

  12. HieronymusGrbrd says:

    Coming out of lurking mode to say how much I love your reviews.

    Well, I'm german, so I can tell you that we love campfires and firesides and BBQ more than is healthy with all this CO2. But I'm not sure if this is a particular german trait. Also I second everything ferriswheeljunky said above.

  13. I'm from Northern Germany, and the closest I can come to think is that we love barbeques, bonfires, etc., but fire with us is more of an excuse to celebrate. Germany does have a bit of a history of book-burning, going back into Reformation times as well. Of course there were burnings of criminals and such in medieval times, but I'd argue that it more defined Europe than Germany specifically.

  14. stellaaaaakris says:

    I love books so much. When I was 11, I would read a few Baby Sitters' Club books a day (I read so many, how did those girls never graduate middle school until about 10 years later?) and a handful of Nancy Drew books. The only book I stayed up to an utterly ridiculous hour to finish for pleasure was Deathly Hallows. I was in Munich, a city I'd never been to before, and a huge part of me just wanted to curl up and read about Harry and co. I did manage to push those feelings aside during the day and sight-see, but then I stayed up all night to finish it. I had a 6:30 am flight the next morning but I had only gotten to Dobby's death and I knew there would be something else to punch me in the gut and I didn't want to break down sobbing on a plane full of strangers, so I stayed up until I finished.

    I also have definitely pulled more all-nighters than is good for me. There was one semester in particular that I didn't sleep for a week during finals time. I lived in the library and only took 30 minute power naps. It was terrible. I hated my life so much then. And then I went home for a weekend then returned to DC where I had a full time job. And it took me a few weeks to be able to stay up past 9 pm (usually I'm not tired before 1 or 2 am). But finishing papers always felt triumphant for me, especially when the sky was just starting to get lighter and everything was so peaceful.

    Back to the actual story. Hans is so cute. I am sending him hugs through time and fiction. When I read this section last night, the cigarette trading scene reminded me of something, but now I can't remember and it's going to bother me all day.

  15. Ames says:

    I love finding people who love books as much as me! I think that is one of the reasons why I love this blog so much, so many fellow book lovers!

    And oh my god, BOOK FAIRS! I LIVED for the book fair in elementary and middle school!

    • FlameRaven says:

      Book fairs and those get-a-book-each-month clubs. I used to get a Scholastic package of a big info book, a YA novel, and maybe a puzzle book every month, randomly. It was so awesome.

  16. BradSmith5 says:

    I guess you could think of that spoiler chapter as the crazy cover most comic books have.
    Like, Part Two would have Liesel on the front, clutching a book in her charred hand, laughing with red eyes as she dashes out some poor sap's door. We'd be like, "Whoa, what's this all about?" Then Cyclops from the X-Men is running after her with his hand outstretched crying, "Liesel––No! What could bring you to this!?" And that's when we see Wolverine puffing on one of Hans' cigarettes in the background: "Dunno, bub," he growls, "but she's become A GIRL MADE OF DARKNESS."

  17. cait0716 says:

    It's perfect for me, too. And not in a rush to the end way. I'm having so much fun with the language that I'm actually not having a problem with the chapter-a-day pace. It's a book to be savored.

  18. Annie says:

    The fire obsession thing probably refers to the burning of books and synagoges (and dead bodies) in Nazi Germany. Being German, I can assure you that this is not the case today. (I'm terrified of fire. TERRIFIED.)

    A quote from German poet Heinrich Heine: "Where they burn books, they will also burn people."
    This quote is from 1823.

    • bradycardia says:

      I've upvoting this for the powerful imagery of the Heine quoted, rather than any positivity about the sentiment.

  19. But as I came to the end of chapter fourteen, I had a gigantic grin on my face and I really appreciated that this book just plain made me feel good. And that is awesome.
    That IS awesome. I'm happy you're responding so well, and so positively. It's not all sadness and death! There are puppies and rainbows too!

    Thirteen times in one day? Or total? PLEASE SPECIFY, DEATH.
    Well, he said, "all told," so I'm going with total.

    I used to do this with those Goosebumps books that were so popular in the 90s. (In hindsight, SO MANY OF THOSE were utter rip-offs of Poe, Lovecraft, and The Twilight Zone. Hmph.)
    But then The Sixth Sense ripped off The Girl Next Door!


  20. Andrea says:

    They sure do! My best friend is a fifth grade teacher and book fairs are still her favorite thing because teachers get a bid discount!

  21. barnswallowkate says:

    When the book closed, they shared a sideways glance. Papa spoke.

    “We made it, huh?”

    ^— Aww it's like all of us here at the end of Deathly Hallows or Mockingjay <3

    I too am a read-all-night person. It's getting to the point where I need some kind of timed lock on the books so I can only read on weekends instead of staying up until 2AM all week long. Alternatively, SOMEONE could stop picking AWESOME BOOKS THAT I CAN'T PUT DOWN *ahem*

  22. Mauve_Avenger says:

    For some reason the writing style started to grate on me in these chapters, whereas it didn't before. Perhaps it's just because I read the last half of part one all at once, and then went on to other books with very different writing styles, so I lost the particular rhythm of this book.

    I think that part of it, though, is because I'd sort of incorporated into my mind the idea that the paragraph breaks after short sentences are Death's attempts to insert a dramatic pause, and it kind of feels inappropriate when talking about Nazi book burnings. Death warns against flippancy, but here the reason he seems to narrate this way seems a bit lacking in respect itself. Obviously, Death's narration might be the way it is for a very specific and very good reason, but in the meantime it just feels weird to me.

    I'm guessing, though, that I'll be able to enjoy it more as I get into the rhythm of it again, and start to get a better perspective on what kind of person (and narrator) Death actually is.

    • Andrea says:

      I'm in the same boat as you when it comes to the writing style in these chapters. I think it's because I've never chosen to read a book chapter by chapter in the way I am trying to do with this book and so it's taking me longer to get used to this style of narrative.

  23. Joanie says:

    The BSC!
    Ahhhh, I never did read the Goosebumps books but Kristy, Mary Anne, Claudia, Stacey – the entire gang were always off having babysitting adventures.

  24. Marina says:

    Liesel and Hans reading reminds me of when I was like seven, and my mom read Harry Potter with me before bed. I'd force her to stay up an extra to hours, (like Liesel did to Hans), just because I was so desperate to know what happened next. And those are still some of my best childhood memories.

    I love all of Death's spoilers. It's so easy to forget them and then when they come back you're like WTF?! You'd think they take away from the story, but they actually really add to it.

    • Cam says:

      OMG, when the seventh HP book came out, my mom (we had read them all together with my brother) read the FIRST CHAPTER only and then said that we had to go to bed!!!!!!!!! True, we DID get it at a midnight booksale…

  25. Mary says:

    i have def stayed up late reading books, even if i had already read them…for Mockingjay, i read from around 4 in the afternoon, to 3:00 in the morning…nonstop….reading by phone light when my roommates went to sleep…READING RULES!!!!

  26. There need to be more dads like Hans in real life.

  27. Sophie says:

    I used to read Harry Potter to my hamster when I was a kid…. What? She totally understood what I was saying.

  28. Gabbie says:

    "Gab, what do you want for yourbirthday/Christmas/Easter?"
    "*le sigh*"
    srsly. 😉 This book speaks to me as well! And I'm so interested in WWII. Favorite book. Even though I'm only a chapter ahead of you, Mark.

    • Cam says:

      This is ALSO totally me 🙂 Books, chocolate, donation to my favorite charities: same list for every holiday, every year.

    • elusivebreath says:

      lol ME TOO and my youngest daughter is carrying on the tradition. I just give her cash and drive her to the bookstore these days 🙂

  29. Lindsey says:

    "I read only Harry Potter ONLY everyday for like a year."
    Same 🙂 It took forever for my mom to pull me out of Harry Potter and actually get me to read other things. I'm proud to say that Harry Potter started my love of reading 🙂

  30. pennylane27 says:

    It ended a few weeks later.


    Sorry, but as you can imagine I can't deal with cliffhangers.


  31. Mackenzie says:

    I can totally relate to this! I've spent countless nights reading until dawn, faking sleep whenever mom and dad would come check on me, only to bust out the flashlight a few seconds later….heck yes.

  32. The first time I pulled an all-nighter it was reading two Tamora Pierce books I'd found on my friend's shelf at a sleepover in one sitting! Once, I did it just because I was too scared to turn the light out. (See I'm mildly nervous of the dark and I was up reading an Anita Blake – Vampire Hunter book until the wee hours of the morning.) When I decided I wanted to sleep and reached over and turned the lamp off I got suddenly scared so I turned it back on and to distract myself I finished reading the Anita Blake book that had scared me in the first place – because it couldn't scare me if it was just the narrative I was reading and not my imagination convincing me it was real. I continued to do that until the sun came up and I was so tired I didn't have enough time to worry about zombies between putting the book down and seriously passing out cold.

  33. JaneMarple9 says:

    I've always loved books – I've been told that I could read before I could talk. And books – especailly the Potterverse – has helped me through dark times. And I have often sat up late to read or listen to "just another chapter". I love the way that Hans gave cigarettes away to get Liesl's books for Christmas.
    I've never read this book until a few weeks ago, and didn't know much about Germany or World War Two. It is definitely a very intriguing book.

  34. cait0716 says:

    Claudia was awesome. I always kind of wanted to be her or Stacy, but didn't have the fashion sense

  35. Sarah says:

    I am in love with Zusak's writing style! He's so unique. There are so many beautiful ways of describing things that you couldn't possibly highlight all of them (though I tried). I also REALLY enjoy how this is really about Liesel's love of books, words, and reading. It really touches my heart.

    I think the reason Death drops future plot points is to prepare us. This book is already lining up to be infinitely sad, and I'm thinking he drops hints to soften some of the blows? If he didn't warn us, there would be a river of tears forever.

    I can't wait to read more from this author!

  36. SecretGirl127 says:

    Boy, am I slow! I just realized that when she says, "his name was Werner," that she was not referring to the boy on the roof, but she was referring to her brother. I had thought they were just tired and absentmindedly talking. Now the passage is full of sad.

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