Mark Reads ‘The Book Thief’: Chapter 45-46

In the forty-fifth and forty-sixth chapters of The Book Thief, Death decides to share a little bit about his experience in 1942, a particularly busy year for him, as Max’s health begins to rapidly decline inside 33 Himmel Street. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read The Book Thief.

All of this was bound to happen, wasn’t it?

the dream carrier

Featuring: our collective heartbreak

CH. 45: DEATH’S DIARY: 1942

As many asides as Death gives us that break up the narrative or give us small insights into the story at large, it’s been quite some time since he’s given us information about himself in the pages of this book. I’d forgotten a few of the things he’d shared, such as his humorous fascination with our preconceived notion of the scythe, or the black hood, or the face of a skeleton. Or the colors. Humans have colors when they die. Death also apparently looks like whatever we look like, too:

I do not carry a sickle or a scythe.
I only wear a hooded black robe when it’s cold.
And I don’t have those skull-like
facial features you seem to enjoy
pinning on me from a distance. You
want to know what I truly look like?
I’ll help you out. Find yourself
a mirror while I continue.

Which is a fascinating concept to me, and I’ll ignore my desire to know more about this and just accept that Death is an entity that has nothing to do with being human as I know it, and yet seems so close to understanding and exhibiting the human condition that he feels familiar.

1942, for Death, is one of those years where, more than most times in the full picture of human history, Death has to work just a bit harder.

There were certainly some rounds to be made that year, from Poland to Russia to Africa and back again. You might argue that I make the rounds no matter what year it is, but sometimes the human race likes to crank things up a little. They increase the production of bodies and their escaping souls. A few bombs usually do the trick. Or some gas chambers, or the chitchat of faraway guns. If not of that finishes proceedings, it at least strips people of their living arrangements, and I witness the homeless everywhere. They often come after me as I wander through the streets of molested cities. They beg me to take them with me, not realizing I’m too busy as it is. “Your time will come,” I convince them, and I try not to look back. At times, I wish I could say something like, “Don’t you see I’ve already got enough on my plate?” but I never do. I complain internally as I go about my work, and some years, the souls and bodies don’t add up; they multiply.

I think it’s really interesting that Zusak uses this to frame the history of 1942, piling the deaths up in a way to express how exponentially deadly that period in human history was. He also doesn’t ignore homelessness created by the German bombs, nor does he forget about the forced diaspora of the Jews and the unwanted, scattered from their homes and forced to live on what they can, many times succumbing to death because of it. On top of that, I cannot think of anything ever that has offered up a perspective of the world through the eyes of Death, and Zusak has taken something that could have been incredibly gimmicky and made it into something valuable and ingenuous.

They say that war is death’s best friend, but I must offer you a different point of view on that one. To me, war is like the new boss who expects the impossible. He stands over your shoulder repeating one thing, incessantly: “Get it done, get it done.” So you work harder. You get the job done. The boss, however, does not thank you. He asks for more.

And this gives the sensation of the endless horror of war, the seemingly non-stop flow of death, destruction, and unhappiness that comes along with it. Yet, even in these moments of overwhelming violence, even Death can see the small, beautiful acts that still exist, despite a world that seems to inhabit none of that.

The main one comes from Liesel Meminger.


Liesel, once again, does something that is powerfully sweet and brilliant for Max Vendenburg, this time giving him (and the rest of the family) a Christmas present that, while only physically lasting a few hours, is the best they’ll probably ever see.

On Christmas Eve, Liesel brought down a double handful of snow as a present for Max. “Close your eyes,” she’d said. “Hold out your hands.” As soon as the snow was transferred, Max shivered and laughed, but he still didn’t open his eyes. He only gave the snow a quick taste, allowing it to sink into his lips.

“Is this today’s weather report?”

Liesel stood next to him.

Gently, she touched his arm.

He raised it again to his mouth. “Thanks, Liesel.”

It was the beginning of the greatest Christmas ever. Little food. No presents. But there was a snowman in their basement.

Liesel’s actions just seem so pure in their joy and empathy, and I think that’s what hits me so hard. This is just so natural for Liesel. She doesn’t seem to put an inordinate amount of thought into any of this. She just understands what can cheer Max up.

So…the snowball scene. It’s beautiful. Again, another moment I would love to see on film, though I know at this point that adapting this for the screen is seriously impossible. It’s so fantastic to see the entire group, Rosa especially, act so childish and immature and I mean that entirely as a compliment, too. Instead of dissecting any of that, though, I was interested to see what any of your feelings and experiences are regarding snow. The only reason I’m bringing this up is because I just met someone this month who has never touched snow, and I had forgotten that it’s not a thing for everyone. I spent over seven years in Boise, Idaho, and we had a white Christmas every year, so it was a bit disconcerting to move to Southern California and then not see snow again for TWENTY YEARS. Twenty years holy god. In fact, I haven’t had a white Christmas since I was eight, though I got really, really close in 2009 when I got stuck in Boston during that gigantic blizzard on the east coast that year. (FUCK YEAH FOR AN EXTENDED VACATION IN BOSTON.)

That’s when I realized that, since it had been so long since I spent longer than a few hours in snow, I did not have the same relationship with snow as most people do. People I meet are generally not that excited about it, though they fall on one side of the spectrum in regards to why that is. They either dislike it because they have no experience with it and it’s too cold and you have to wear special clothes and none of this is fun to them, OR they’ve grown up their whole lives with snow and it’s nothing special or to be excited about because it’s just another geographical nuisance. Obviously, people can exist all over this spectrum, but I certainly fall on the side of I LOVE SNOW AT ALL TIMES. I didn’t grow up with it to a point that it would ever become a nuisance to my job or my commute or anything like that. I stopped living around it when I was eight, and when you’re eight, snow is magical Jesus flakes from the sky and that’s about as in-depth as I got in those days. Snowmen! Sleds! Snow forts! Snowball fights! That magical crunch that ever step sends up to your ears, the way it transforms every city block into some ridiculous postcard, the way an untouched snow drift just looks so perfect and smooth…I loved all those things about snow.

I only saw snow twice before that blizzard in 2009, both times in extremely short spurts, so while the city of Boston and New York both groaned and sighed at the news that it would start snowing that winter, my eyes widened in anticipation. WAS I GOING TO PLAY IN THE SNOW? SURELY THIS WOULD HAPPEN AND MY FIRST VACATION EVER AS AN ADULT WOULD INVOLVE SNOW. RIGHT? RIGHT? RIGHT?????

Ok, so seriously, I know this has ABSOLUTELY NOTHING TO DO WITH NAZI GERMANY IN 1942 and might tonally be the most irritating shift in my review ever, but I really need to tell this story because:

1)   It is actually relevant to why I love the snowball scene in The Book Thief.

2)   There is not one second of it that is depressing and I SWEAR MY LIFE IS NOT ENDLESS DOOM AND FUCKERY, YOU ALL.

3)   It involves one of the poorest decisions I have ever made in my entire life and yet, if I had a TARDIS, I would go back just to cross my own time stream to tell my past self to CONTINUE ON THIS PATH TO FOOLISH RIGHTEOUSNESS BECAUSE IT IS ABSOLUTE PERFECTION

4)   Farts.

Ok, let’s establish a few things that are absolutely integral to the story:

  • It is mid-December in 2009. I cannot be arsed to be date specific, despite that a brief trip to Google could easily tell me what day this was.
  • I was working at Buzznet at the time (HEY REMEMBER THAT PLACE? NO? GOOD) and after having been there three and a half years, this was the very first proper vacation I’d ever been allowed to take in my entire time there. OH GOD WORK PLACE OPPRESSION.
  • I spent four days in Boston, three or four in New York City, and then this story takes place when I return to Boston for a couple days to attend a show at the Middle East, which was sort of the whole point of this trip because Fake Problems, Thursday, and the Dillinger Escape Plan were on a bill. THE SAME BILL. Seriously, one of the best shows I have ever been to, but NOT THE POINT.
  • I was staying at my friend Adam’s pad and he lived right down the street from Massachusetts General Hospital. THIS IS INTEGRAL TO THE ENTIRE STORY SO DO NOT FORGET THIS. A map will also be provided for those who are not familiar with this.

I took the MBTA train out to Central Square, fully aware that earlier in the day, as I was onboard a Megabus from NYC to Boston, we had just missed the cutoff for bus departures before the snowstorm that was supposed to bury the East Coast was going to arrive. I wasn’t necessarily underdressed as I stepped off the subway; I’ve always been able to tolerate cold weather far more than warm weather, but, as you’ll soon learn, I should have planned my outing to Cambridge a lot better than I did.

The show was wonderful. You don’t need a review of it because OTHER THINGS ARE MORE IMPORTANT. Covered in sweat, I grabbed my jackets (I do intend for this to be plural to show I was at least moderately prepared for snow) from the coat check and headed outside to find the ground covered in quite a few inches of snow, delicate flakes plunging from the strangest colored sky I’d ever seen in my life, thick clouds hanging ominously above me, reflecting back the lights of downtown Boston. I did what any person who has not been in falling snow since 1991 does: I opened my mouth, letting the snow melt on my tongue, and I began stomping around in the small drifts that had already formed in the three hours I’d been inside the club.

Now, I swear I am not doing this to allow names to drop out of my mouth, but it’s also very important to the story. After the show, I hung out with the guys from Thursday on their bus. I knew them from touring with them at the beginning of 2009 for an editorial feature for Buzznet, and I hadn’t seen them in quite some time. After an hour of so of getting warmed up in the bus, both Dillinger and Thursday (who were sharing the bus) prepared to leave to head to their next destination. And this is why it’s important to include this: knowing that it was below freezing outside and knowing that it was still snowing, Geoff from Thursday asked if he could get the bus driver to drop me off at where I was staying so I wouldn’t have to walk home. “It’s totally not a big deal,” he assured me. “You’re on the way.”

In a moment lacking in all pragmatism, beaming with anticipation and joy, I refused. Nah, it’s totally ok, I announced with an adventurous tone. My friend just lives on the other side of the bridge. I’ll just walk there. It’ll only take twenty minutes or so!

“Are you sure? It’s snowing pretty hard.”

I spelled it out for him. I haven’t been in a snowstorm since I was eight. I’ll be cool.

And with that, I exited the warm, toasty bus, wrapped my scarf around my face, and pulled the hood on my waterproof jacket tight over my head, heading down Green Street towards the next block. I’d checked Google Maps on my iPhone before leaving, and I knew that I had to take the shortcut over to Main Street from Massachusetts so that I would head in the right direction. It seemed simple enough, since it wasn’t that far until the split in the road.

For some reason, when I had looked at the map just moments earlier, the small walkway to Main St was a few blocks down Massachusetts. Allow me to correct this past memory right now and show you what I actually did:

As you can see, I turned up Sidney St and, instead of continuing straight up to Main, I turned right on Massachusetts, wrongly believing that the split was blocks ahead of me. Also:

I just saw this and my brain read it as, “POTATO TOT LOT” and I wondered why I didn’t stop there. Hmmm.

If you’ve already Googled the location of the Middle East Club and pulled out to see where this route is going to take me, I assume that you are shaking your head after having facepalmed. You’ve realized the critical error I’ve made on the night of one of the worst blizzards Boston has received in recent years. If you’ve not figured this out, here’s what I should have done:

Very short and direct, right? Here’s what actually happened:

But merely showing you this map does nothing, because an extra mile added to a walk probably seems like nothing to you. And if you’re a walker like I am, a mile is merely a warm up. It’s peanuts. It’s a nice twenty minutes more to a pleasant walk. And I agree! It’s really not that far at all!

As I plugged along Massachusetts Ave, I realized I was right next to M.I.T. I never had aspirations to attend the university, but it’s fucking M.I.T. You can’t help but feel like you’re important just by walking by it. So I stopped to stomp in a few more growing snow drifts, drifts I should have noticed were now at least a foot higher than the ones outside of the Middle East, but it was snow. Guys, IT WAS FUCKING SNOWING. RIGHT THEN. IT WAS FALLING FROM THE SKY AND EVERYTHING WAS BEAUTIFUL AND NOTHING HURT.

It was just past eleven PM at night and the lights along the street didn’t seem to illuminate my way very well, and I noticed that the snow was falling so thickly that it appeared to actually be blocking the light out. Even though there were bright and proper streetlights lining the avenue, I could only see a few hundred feet in front of me. However, I was in such a state of euphoria about experiencing such ridiculous weather on my last night in Boston that I didn’t care. This was a once in a lifetime thing for me, since Los Angeles certainly wasn’t going to get weather like this any time soon.

As I strutted proudly down the block, I found that Charles River opened up before me, quicker than I expected, and I figured that I must have been so enamored with the snow that I had just walked the correct direction a lot faster than I had allotted myself. I ran up to the edge and looked out into the river, noticing that it had frozen over with a thick block of ice. I snooped around until I found a palm-sized stone and tossed it joyously down to the river and literally giggled as the rock BOUNCED OFF THE SURFACE, not even making a slight crack. OH, THIS IS SO AWESOME, I thought.

A few cars passed every couple minutes, but I was alone on that bridge right then, alone in my foolishness and alone in my abject ecstasy. Sure, it was cold and a bit windy, but I was in Boston, Massachusetts, and I was in the middle of a snowstorm. IT WAS SNOWING!

I decided I wanted to cross over to the eastern side of the bridge to see if there was anything else going on in the river on that side, because that’s how my brain works. I checked for traffic (empty bridge) and quickly crossed over the road (ice covered) to make it to the other side (no difference from the west side.)

Well, there was a huge difference, but nothing that had to do with the weather or the frozen river or the falling snow. There was a bridge. There was a bridge on this side.

I turned to face where I came from and did not see a bridge in the distance like I should have. I pulled out my phone and removed a glove to try and turn it on, but the screen wouldn’t swipe. This had happened to me once before, in New York, on a night where it was below freezing, so my mind went to the obvious explanation: my iPhone had probably frozen. WHICH IS AWESOME. I still don’t even know if they can do that, BUT THAT’S MY STORY.

Perhaps I’m just disoriented, I thought to myself. You’ll probably get to the other side of the bridge and see the hospital and you’ll be fine. Right?

I quickened my pace, my visibility still pretty shit due to the downpour of flurries. I could make out lights at the other end of the bridge, but I’ve always had pour eyesight at night, and the storm was not making it any better. But I didn’t let the confusion damper my mood. I was in a blizzard. I WAS IN A BLIZZARD. Surely this couldn’t be all that bad, right?

As I neared the end of the bridge, it was pretty obvious I’d missed my turn, that I was on the Massachusetts Ave bridge and not the Longfellow Bridge, which would have taken me to within a couple minutes of where I was staying. But the Longfellow Bridge wasn’t that far! It looked like it was just a ten minute walk!

My perception is fun. Generally, I tend to have a fantastic sense of direction, rarely getting lost and able to navigate new cities without much trouble at all. I’ve been nicknamed MarkQuest by friends and sometimes, people will call me specifically to ask for directions, sometimes even in cities I’ve never been to. (I LOVE MAPS, Y’ALL. I REALLY DO.) That night, however, I seemed to have lost all bearing, all sense of which direct was east or south, and I got lost. I got really lost.

But it wasn’t so bad! As I crossed to the other side of the Charles River and started heading up through Beacon Hill to the West End, I was loving the journey. That particular neighborhood was quiet. No one was out walking around like I was, and almost no car seemed to be passing me. I quickly understood that I was in an upscale neighborhood and knew that I shouldn’t make too much of a fuss walking around, since I was an out-of-state brown dude walking through a neighborhood because he was “lost.” I MEAN, LET’S NOT KID OURSELVES, AMIRITE? I was fresh for the picking!

This is not where this story is going, though. The silent houses and driveways stared out at me, most of them covered with nearly two feet of snow. I stuck to the sidewalks, or at least where I thought the sidewalk was, since the snow was rapidly covering up the evidence of the nighttime walks of people who’d traipsed through this neighborhood. I could feel the brisky, chilly air on my cheeks, which burned from the cold, and I simply let myself enjoy the quiet solitude of the street. People were asleep and they’d wake up to drifts and piles and they’d get out their shovels while plows drove down main thoroughfares to clear out the way for traffic, and for them, snow was something in their way, something they expected every year around this time, and schedules would be adjusted and moved to accommodate for the change in surroundings.

I didn’t check my phone to see where I was; every other block, I’d look to my left and I’d see the Charles River looming quietly out in the near distance, and I knew that as long as I kept that on my left side, I was fine. My boots crunched with every step and I kept turning back and smiling at the defined path I was leaving behind me. I was here, those steps told the world. And then the world would cover them up in just a few minutes, my story only temporarily left in the path behind my back.

I came upon a large, wide driveway. At the time, I believed it was a driveway, heading to a large building on Storrow Drive, while I plowed my way down Beacon St. At the end of this “driveway,” I saw a smooth embankment of sorts, created by the wind blowing the snow into a drift that was at three feet high. Knowing in my heart that I wasn’t that far from the West End, I jogged to the other side of the driveway and leapt into the air, planting both of my feet directly into the snow drift. I knew I wouldn’t get another chance to do this before morning, since most of the snow would be shoveled out of the way.

Except it wasn’t a driveway. It was a street. The snow was so thick at this part of the neighborhood that everything blended together, so much so that it was nearly impossible to tell where one corner ended and the next began. My feet, however, found that corner, as they plunged below the snow and landed directly into the gutter, drowning in about half a foot of icy water.

The effect was instantaneous, as I fell over dramatically, yelping to absolutely no one, plunging face first into the snow in front of me. I scrambled on hands and knees a foot or two before standing upright, my breath spilling out of my mouth and condensing rapidly before me.


I could feel this prickly, needle-like sensation all over my foot, especially on the top part of it, and I just started running. I don’t know why. It made no sense to run, but in my head, it would get me to my friend’s house that much quicker. My socks felt like they’d frozen to the soles of my feet and block after block passed by and each one looked exactly the same as the last one. It was like I’d been dropped into a perpetually repeating neighborhood and I was recreating the Sisyphian myth, but I literally didn’t even have a reason to be pushing my own rock up the hill.

And I burst out of Beacon St. on to a park. A park that I’d never seen. A park that could not have been anywhere near my friend’s house.

OH, WHAT THE FUCK, I thought. What have I done? One of these streets had to have a familiar name. I was following Beacon St, so I couldn’t have gone too far in the wrong direction, right? But one…two…three blocks later, I don’t recognize SHIT. Just as I am starting to develop an alternate reality in my head where the police find my body frozen to the sidewalk in the worst pair of boots known to man, my scarf twisting off like a flat noose, I see CHARLES ST. Charles St!!! My friend lives off of Charles St, OH MY GOD, I AM GOING TO SURVIVE.

I started imagining things I don’t even actually like. Like bubble baths and singing Christmas carols with strangers around an open fire or jetting myself into the sun, anything that involved heat and would make my feet stop feeling like they were going to freeze off. As I was thinking quite hard about furnaces and microwaves and hugs from teddy bears, a car honked at me and I nearly peed myself in fright. I turned to my left to discover the brilliant, beautiful sight of a Boston cab alongside the curb. I think I tried to yell thanks as I opened the door, but all that came out was, TRAFGHWGAF, which isn’t even a word in any language that I know of.

I managed to spit out CHARLES ST AND BLOSSOM while I curled up in the back seat, my teeth chattering, laughing at how absolutely foolish I had been that night, not realizing that the driver probably was terrified of the man in his car that’s shivering and laughing in the fetal position in his taxi. But seriously, DID NOT CARE. For a four minute taxi ride, I passed the driver a cold twenty (THE BILL WAS LITERALLY COLD, I HAD NEVER HAD THAT HAPPEN BEFORE) and scrambled out of the car, sprinting to the front door.

My friend Adam had given me his spare key card for his building and I struggled with my wallet, having to remove my gloves to even get the card out, and then I slapped the off-white piece of plastic against the black box that opened the door.

Click. Click.

Each time I put the card in front of the box, the door would click like it was supposed to, but it wouldn’t open. Was it locked after a certain hour? Did the card become demagnetized or something? MARK THIS ISN’T A HOTEL, I thought, and I continued to hit the black box with the card.

Click. Click. Click. Click. Click.

WHAT THE FUCK! I screamed at the door. OPEN OPEN OPEN OPEN OPEN.

No luck. I pulled out my phone, but it wouldn’t turn it. APPARENTLY IT HAD FROZEN ITSELF OFF, which has to be some feature that Apple should remove from all future phones. I couldn’t call Adam and I was stuck outside. I paced from one side of the entry way to the other. Surely there was something I could do besides waiting outside on one of the coldest nights I’ve ever experienced, hoping someone would come down.

I looked to the right of the door and facepalmed so hard it actually hurt. There was an electronic call box, its green light taunting me, as if it was saying, “I was here the whole time. LOL.” I rushed to the box and read the scrolling words.


Oh, sweet! I could definitely do this. I entered his apartment number, hit pound, and heard the comforting sound of the dial tone. As the phone rang, it stopped suddenly. Hello? I said. Adam, it’s Mark.

Silence. A squelch of static. Silence.

Adam? Are you there?

Squelch. A voice, just for a half second, then silence.


Click. Silence. The message scrolls again. Did I dial the wrong apartment? Was the call box broken too? I placed my hands on the glass door and peered inside. No one at the security desk, no one in the lobby. I turned around and didn’t see anyone in the courtyard walking around. I was completely alone.

Turning back to the door, I peeked in again and noticed that an elevator was on its way down. It has to be Adam! I thought. It has to be. Even if it’s not, if I can just get inside the building, I won’t die from exposure in West End. And that was a success to me.

I think I started jumping up and down like a puppy when I saw Adam, clad in pajamas, come walking out of the elevator. I saw him smile and hit the button next to the door that opened it manually.


The door didn’t budge. I watched him hit the button. One. Two. Three. Four times.

Click. Click. Click. Click.

What’s going on, Adam? Why isn’t it opening???

“I don’t know! It’s supposed to! Try the card again.”

Obediently tapped the card to the black box.


No movement.

As Adam continued to press the button on the inside methodically, I checked to see if there was some sort of lock that was engaged by trying to pry apart the sliding doors. When they wouldn’t move and I was just about to give up and let nature take my body, I looked up at the top of the door, right along where it sat in the track.

Ice. The entire outside frame of the door was COATED IN ICE. I yelled at Adam, pointing up. THERE’S ICE KEEPING THE DOOR SHUT!!! I CAN SEE IT!!


It was an identifiable problem to me. I sacrificed a library card to get inside, using it to break the ice around the door jamb, and then they magically parted as they should. Feeling like a wintery Moses, I raced inside and let me tell you, Readers, that shower I took that night was like being hugged by every puppy that has ever existed. If puppies could hug.

The point of all of this is that even against my own sense of comfort, there’s a joy I experience entirely related to snow. Just the mere sight of it can send me into a tizzy of laughter and giggling, and that’s why I just spent like 3,500 words telling you about the terrible decisions I make on a regular basis because SNOW IS REALLY WONDERFUL. I am now, of course, realizing that I took a possibly inopportune moment during the course of The Book Thief to tell this story because everything from here on out is FUCKING DEPRESSING.

Unfortunately, that night signaled a sever downslide in Max’s health. The early signs were innocent enough, and typical. Constant coldness. Swimming hands. Increased visions of boxing with the Führer. It was only when he couldn’t warm up after his push-ups and sit-ups that it truly began to worry him. As close to the fire as he sat, he could not raise himself to any degree of approximate health. Day by day, his weight began to stumble off him. His exercise regimen faltered and fell apart, with his cheek against the surly basement floor.

There’s no mention about what actually makes Max sick anywhere in this chapter, but it’s almost surprising that he hasn’t gotten sick already. It’s not until mid-February that the rest of the household can’t ignore his condition anymore, as he collapses near the fireplace, causing the rest of the family to (understandably) freak out.

Rosa takes charge of the moment, though, and I love what she says to Liesel in her bedroom after putting Max in her bed:

She stepped closer, afraid of the answer. “Is he alive?”

The bun nodded.

Rosa turned then and said something with great assurance. “Now listen to me, Liesel. I didn’t take this man into my house to watch him die. Understand?”

Liesel nodded.

“Now go.”

It’s such a succinct statement, but it speaks volumes to Rosa’s mentality throughout all this. When she took Max in (or, rather, agreed to it), she was agreeing to taking care of him as well, and it’s such a wonderfully selfless attitude to have. Thinking back, even if she was harsh with Liesel in the beginning, she was exactly the same way. It was her brand of “tough love,” I suppose, but it’s love nonetheless.

That night, Liesel sleeps on Max’s old mattress in her parents’ room, where she hears Rosa vocalize her concerns about the snow that Liesel brought in back in December, proposing it was that that got Max sick.

Papa was more philosophical. “Rosa, it started with Adolf.”

It’s interesting how the two of them go with what they know. Rosa’s always been the more practical one, while Hans falls more on the side of being poetic like that. Either way, it ultimately doesn’t matter to Liesel, who now gets it into her head that she made Max sick.

“Why did I have to bring all that snow down?” she asked. “It started all of this, didn’t it, Papa?” She clenched her hands, as if to pray. “Why did I have to build that snowman?”

Papa, to his enduring credit, was adamant. “Liesel,” he said, you had to.”

Ugh, HOW DOES HE ALWAYS KNOW THE RIGHT THING TO SAY? I get the feeling that he might impart some of this on Liesel, inspiring her to write so that she can have the right thing to say when she needs to.

For hours, she sat with him as he shivered and slept.

“Don’t die,” she whispered. “Please, Max, just don’t die.”

He was the second snowman to be melting away before her eyes, only this one was different. It was a paradox.

The colder he became, the more he melted.

God, I hate ending at this moment, because I’m completely worried that Max is going to die, and I really don’t want to read about that. It’s going to destroy Liesel. But I have to stop because I’m rapidly approaching 6,000 words and SERIOUSLY, I HAVE TO STOP.

About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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67 Responses to Mark Reads ‘The Book Thief’: Chapter 45-46

  1. cait0716 says:

    Oh, Mark, I would have done that, too. Snow is fucking magical. Even if you see it all the time. I love snow. So many people don't understand. They complain about the hassle and inconvenience. But there is nothing about snow that I don't love. It cleans up the world and tucks it in with a nice white blanket. And if you just slow down and remember to get snow tires, it really isn't that bad to drive in.

    I've mentioned this before, but I grew up in the mountains of Colorado. It starts snowing in September and continues through April or May. I haven't seen a white Christmas in the longest time, but white Easters and white Halloweens are par for the course. My friends and I took to dressing up as Christmas Carolers to go trick or treating because it was the best way to stay warm. I've been snowed out of my cousin's graduation party in May and a 4th of July BBQ. And I love all of it.

    Snow just sort of hits the pause button on life. In 2003, we got 5 1/2 feet of snow and my mom and I were stuck in our house for 7 days. It was perfect. We hung out and read and cuddled up in blankets (and used a battery powered AM radio to find out whether or not we had declared war on Iraq). I love when it snows so much that you can't even leave the house, because it lifts all the responsibilities off you. Sorry, I can't get to school/the office, I'll just sit here and read all day long. Those are perfect days.

    I moved to DC this year and spent the entire winter complaining that there wasn't enough snow. It just didn't feel like a real winter without several blizzards. I also laughed when we did get half an inch of snow and everyone freaked out.

    In conclusion, snow is wonderful!

    Liesel is wonderful, too. The snowball fight made me so happy, especially when Rosa joined in. And I think it might even be worth Max getting sick to have such a perfect Christmas.

    I'm so scared for Max. I had to keep reading to find out what happened, because that was just such a cruel place to stop. I don't want any more bad things to happen to these people! And I know it's just going to get worse. 🙁

    • barnswallowkate says:

      If you'd moved a year earlier you could have had three blizzards in one winter, including 2 in one week (The Snowpocalypes of February 2010!). Of course the last time we had a blizzard like that was in the mid-90s so you might have to wait a while for the next one. At least we usually get more than this last winter of only dustings.

      • monkeybutter says:

        Hey, we got some decent snow in 2003, but nothing like last year. There isn't a "usual" winter in the DC area. It's different every year. Sigh.

  2. Andrea says:

    Mark, I love your story about Boston and the snow! I am from Maine, and even though I see snow at least 5 months out of the year, I still get giddy and overly excited for the first big snow storm of the year. I love the cold numbness that my legs get from being outside in below freezing temperatures and I love the feeling of warming up next to a fire after being outside in the snow.

    Basically, I just really loved this chapter. I can't imagine how it must be for Max to be unable to go outdoors for months on end. As it is, I need to take a walk everyday on my lunch break at work just to get through the day! Poor Max 🙁

  3. potlid007 says:

    Oh Boston, you and your crazy streets. I live there and I get lost all the time. NOT PLEASANT BUT AT LEAST SNOW IS PRETTY.

    and Max, please don't die!!!! I WRUV YOU SO.

  4. barnswallowkate says:

    I would pay money to have your snow story illustrated by Hyberbole and a Half.

    • cait0716 says:

      That would be awesome! Blog crossover!

    • anonymous says:

      Oh my goodness what have you done. All throughout The Scariest Story I was unsuccessfully stifling my laughter, seriously I'm still bursting out little tiny laughs just thinking about it. I desperately want to read more but I have papers and presentations due very soon… Crap. I just looked at the About page. There was a unicorn. I think I may love this person. Thanks for introducing me to something new. I have it bookmarked to check out during summer.

      • barnswallowkate says:

        Allie is awesome! I've previously introduced a few posters here to Cleolinda, so I guess I can't be addicted to something on the internet without wanting other people addicted too? I'm a pusher, Anon.

    • Rachel says:

      That's exactly what Mark's story made me think of…I kept waiting for a drawing to pop up of a joyous Mark with rainbows behind him, plowing through the snow-filled streets of Boston. We should get Allie on that, stat.

      If you're new to Hyperbole and a Half, try the God of Cake…pure genius.

  5. barnswallowkate says:

    It would crack me up more if I had spelled it correctly! I am failing at typing lately. My other favorite was Snowtorious B.I.G.

    Snow really is the end of the world in DC. Remember a few months ago when we got ~6 inches and people took 8+ hours to get home (hopefully you weren't one of them)?

    • cait0716 says:

      Yes! It only took me an extra hour, since the bulk of my commute is on the metro. But there were a few people who just slept at the office to avoid it. Hopefully you made it home in a timely matter, too

      • monkeybutter says:

        THANK GOD FOR METRO. I was going to tease you about missing last year's snowfall, but she beat me to it! The abandoned buses and cars were ridiculous; the people who slept at the office were smart.

      • barnswallowkate says:

        I had a doctor's appointment that morning and knew I'd have to leave early before the snow so I just worked from home. I was so incredibly glad that I did!

  6. monkeybutter says:

    Phew, was this your longest review ever? I loved your snow story. Seriously, everything that could go wrong did, but since everything worked out okay, it's a fun adventure! I've made wrong turns walking around at night, and I've stupidly jumped into snow only to soak my feet with the cold, melted water below, and I've gotten locked out (not by ICE, though I have had to use my keys to chip my car door open FUN), but never all at once. You deserve an award. And puppy hugs. And yeah, iPhones/iPods/LCDs in general have an operating temp of >32 degrees, which is unfortunate, because that's when you need them the most! I try to keep those things close to my body during the winter, but you don't really have to worry about that where you live!

    I also love snow. I grew up in the DC snow hole, and winters here are pretty hit or miss, so I'm still struck by childlike glee whenever it snows. I LOVE the smell of snow. The only snow grinchyness I have is directed toward other drivers, and I tend to avoid my car on snowy days — more opportunity for fun outside. I also love walking through snow, and then seeing the smooth furrows the next day. It's like I was the only one to experience that particular patch of snow. Oh, and like Hans, I learned how to just miss someone with a snowball! It's a talent, I assure you.

    Hans always has the perfect response. I think it's because he sees the bigger picture, unlike Rosa who apportions blame for her problems to whatever's in her immediate vicinity. It's a lot easier to confront the things you have control over than the things you don't. Rosa sees her house, then Himmel Street, then Molching; Hans sees the world in it's entirety — perhaps because he's actually seen more of it than his wife? I guess that's what makes Hans wise.

    As for the * * *A SMALL PIECE OF TRUTH* * * at the beginning, I read it to mean that Death has everything to do with being human. Death, be it our own or someone else's, sits waiting in all of us.

  7. Emily Crnk says:

    Mark, that was one of the most gorgeously written things I've ever read. Seriously, you descriptions are spot on, they made me miss the snow, which is difficult to do in the middle of April. That was almost 6000 words well spent.

    I also love the description of Max as an oxymoronic snowman, it's so clever and accurate.

  8. elusivebreath says:

    Mark, I think this is my favorite review of yours EVER (and I have read every. single. one.). Those maps are the BEST and have brought joy into an otherwise long and tedious day at work, so thank you for that!

    I personally am one of those people who has a love/hate relationship with snow, lol. It’s so beautiful to look at, but then there’s the extra clothes and the cold and blah I don’t like those things. The last time I was in snow, in Canada, and I was oh around 13? My cousins and I were walking home from somewhere and it was SO COLD I swear I thought my ears were going to freeze off!! And then when we finally, blessedly, got to the house, the house key was frozen into my cousin’s wallet so we couldn’t get in! We had to walk another mile to this shop where we could thaw the keys out … and that was pretty much the experience that made me decide that I wasn’t a huge fan of snow.

    Also, I too am a fan of maps, but only because I am literally TERRIFIED of getting lost. If I am going anywhere remotely unfamiliar, I study maps like I’m planning a heist!

  9. mugglemomof2 says:

    Sorry- tears! I have tears from trying not to laugh out loud reading your story about Boston (I am from there btw). HYSTERICAL! Sorry- I know this chapter ends on brutal depression- but that story just delighted way more than it should have.
    Thanks for laugh.

    **Side note- MAAAXXXX! :(- sad faces forever***

  10. ravenclawgirl says:

    Thank you for making my awful day better. I definitely fall on the not-liking-snow end of the spectrum, the one that has to do with growing up with it and finding out that it's a pain to shovel and drive in, and that, though it will never give you a snow day on that day you could really use an extra day to study or finish that paper, it will invariably give you a snow day on the day of the class party (though I wouldn't feel like it's Christmas without snow… I have Australian friends who GO TO THE BEACH on Christmas. That's just wrong.) but even so, reading your joy at being stuck in a blizzard was so much fun. Even as I was going, Mark, this isn't going to end well, just accept a ride and go make snowballs once you're someplace familiar, I was smiling like an idiot because you were so giddy about it..

    • monkeybutter says:

      Christmas at the beach just seems unwholesome. We spent a few winter breaks at my grandparents' in Florida when I was a kid, and even though I loved swimming constantly while down there, it just seemed wrong to jump in the pool on Christmas Day. Just the thought of wearing a tee shirt and shorts is weird. It reminds me of Home Alone 2 (what is wrong with my brain).

      • suspicious cookie says:

        nah, the beach at christmas is the best! What else are you supposed to do in December? Some people do live in the southern hemisphere y’know 😛

        • stellaaaaakris says:

          WARNING: I'm going to ask what I realize to be a very stupid question; judge away. Only in the past year or so did my brain make the connection that, for some people, Christmas isn't snowy magical time due to geographic locations (hello, logics, where have you been for the past 20 years?). Are there warm, sunny Christmas carols that I don't know about? Most of the songs I know involve snow or cold or religious symbols that are admittedly good for all weather, but, it's not Christmas to me unless I've been hearing "Baby it's Cold Outside" or "Let it Snow" on the radio or in Starbucks since early November.

          • suspicious cookie says:

            Well, despite Christmas being boiling hot down here, we still have Christmas cards covered in snow and the like. Though we do have a few ‘Aussie Christmas’ carols, we mostly sing the normal ones. Yeah, even ‘I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas’ and ‘Jingle Bells’. Guess we’re allowed to dream..oh, there’s one where Santa can’t ride his sleigh down under ’cause of the lack of snow, so he rides a kangaroo instead. XD

  11. Inseriousity. says:

    I love walking. If I realised I was going the wrong way, I'd be like you, wouldn't panic, would just try and find a practical solution to get to where I needed to be. But I can not stand snow. Apart from the fact it gives chavs a weapon they don't get to use too often, it does 'get in the way.' It's lovely looking at it from inside a nice warm house but outside, I don't like it!

    PS. Love Rosa, reminds me of my auntie. tough, strict, high standards for everyone but she does have her heart in the right place even if she doesn't show it too often. She never moans about Max, about the extra pressure this puts on her with food supplies etc. She gets on with it.

  12. feminerdist says:

    Oh good lord your snow story is horrific/amazing. See I'm from South Louisiana, we don't really do snow. It might snow every couple of years, and by "snow" I mean maybe one random night/morning we might get an inch of snow, some ice, and a few flakes. And the state SHUTS THE FUCK DOWN. School is cancelled, people stay home from work, and we all go crazy. We make 3 inch tall snowmen, cause we can, go run out in the snow for a few minutes, again, cause we can. So what you just described, I have never experienced. But it sounds horrific/amazing. Cold is bad. I could never live like that on a normal basis.

    The last time it snowed, I had to go to work instead of staying home and making a snowman, sadly. I lived across town, and instead of taking the interstate, I took a different route. It was 7am, and the route I took is a two lane road, that winds through a bunch of seriously rich houses. It was the most beautiful drive I've ever taken. All these huges houses were snow-covered, the yards were all covered with snow, and it looked like one huge christmas greeting card. That was two years ago, and it hasn't snowed since.

    • Lindsey says:

      Haha I love near Houston and it’s the same for is whenever it snows. If there’s like a 30% chance of snow even the weathermen get excited, and everyone at school gets SUPER excited. I’ve only had one white Christmas, about four or so years ago. I was on the way home from Church on Christmas Eve and all of a sudden my siblings and I noticed little white flurries in the light of the streetlights. My cousins came over, and we had a little snowball fight with the snow from on top of our cars. It was perfect. 🙂 the next morning we drove out to my grandma’s house. She lived SE of us, but they got a whole foot of snow. She lived out in the country and raised miniature horses (why am I using the past tense, she still does this) and seeing the horses trot through the snow was so strange and beautiful to me. It was then that I made my first snow angel (in my nice pair of jeans, to my mother’s dismay) and I helped my older cousin build a pathetic two-and-a-half-foot snowman. That was one of the best Christmases I’ve ever had.

    • heystaceykay says:

      *waves* I was about to leave a comment saying essentially the exact same thing about my experiences with snow since I, too, am from South Louisiana! I live in Lafayette.

      I still have a tiny container of snow in my freezer from last time it snowed. Even though it was the week of finals, my friends and I had a snow party and signed our names on the container of snow before we called it a night. We had a "snowball fight" which didn't work exceptionally well because the snow doesn't exactly stick together properly. But it was truly wonderful and it felt like a magic night that belonged to someone else. I remember more about that night than almost any other night during college.

      Nice to meet you!

  13. shortstack930 says:

    I'm from New York so I definitely have experience with snow, but the first snowfall each year is still magical to me. Last year I got stuck on my way home from my coworker's surprise birthday party. It was a serious blizzard here and the car got completely stuck on the way home and it took us about 2 hours in the freezing cold snow to dig it out. It was definitely a bad idea to wear heels that night but a good idea to stick some shovels in the trunk. So all in all, we got home nearly frozen but safe and I had an interesting story to tell. I definitely understand your fascination with snow though, it can do some crazy things.

  14. affableevil says:

    Oh my god, I love snow! Last year's Snowpocalypse was AMAZING. I do see it pretty much every year (admittedly, not that much – Maryland usually gets a few bouts with a foot or so at most). What's really strange is that Maryland drivers CANNOT HANDLE SNOW AT ALL. Every year people here freak out and react as if they've never seen it before. Two inches? CLOSE ALL THE SCHOOLS. Which I always loved because, hey, what kid doesn't love a good school day?

    The Book Thief continues to break everyone's heart and have them come crawling back for more :'(

    • monkeybutter says:

      I loved Maryland's inability to deal with snow when I was a kid (hey, there are a lot of people from other parts of the country and traffic is terrible anyway). Even if we only got a dusting, we could hope that the northern part of the county would get half a foot, meaning no school! I had at least one snow day for rain — regular old rain — because of our weird-ass snow disparity.

  15. kohlrabi says:

    As much as I love snow, I'm so glad to be rid of it (not listening to weather reports of 2 new inches tonight) but you *almost* made me miss it with that story. I have definitely done similar things, though not quite so severe as that. Too funny! I have lived in Minnesota for my entire life and still get so giddy when there is a beautiful snow fall. I sit at my window and just gaze out in awe.

    This last December we had I believe our 17th biggest blizzard in the twin cities. I was supposed to drive 35 miles north that day to visit my dad for his birthday. Unfortunately we have a small car and while we spent A LOT of time on the road that day, we never went farther than a block! I learned so much about pushing cars that day. I was freezing, soaked to the bone, but still I was in a good mood. The whole neighborhood was filled with people pushing each other through the roads and it was rather magical!

    A couple months later we had another pretty large storm while I was at work. As I walked to the bus stop I could see that traffic was a nightmare. The buses were packed and I hate standing on them, plus they weren't even moving! So, I made a genius decision similar to yours and walked the 2 miles home! Unfortunately I was stupid and was wearing casual style dress shoes that had holes all the way through. But I did manage to outpace the buses and made it home in mostly one piece and loved every minute of it.

    Thanks for sharing such a wonderful story Mark. *totally ignores sick Max*

  16. redheadedgirl says:

    Oh, Mark. Mark, Mark, Mark. I go to school on Charles St, on the other side of the Common from you. That route you walked? I've done that. Not in the middle of the night in a blizzard, but I have do equally ill-advised things in Boston blizzards before. Usually involving me being so totally stir crazy that dying during an ill-advised adventure is preferrable to staying in the house for ONE MORE MINUTE.

  17. ldwy says:

    LOVE MAPS. Speaking of my love of maps, your love of maps, Mark's love of maps, and Boston…We have a gorgeous historical map of Boston harbor framed at my house. So pretty and cool. I love looking at maps of the same place at different times, it's fascinating.

  18. Coni says:

    Mark, I adored reading about your experience with snow. I live in a place where it snows every year. Sometimes a little, sometimes a lot. It's just a nuisance here because we don't get enough of it to be totally used to it, but it happens enough that it completely disrupts everything. School children are always excited because it means no school, then they realize that there isn't a whole lot they can do. Especially if it's like snowpacolypse 2011. There were drifts taller than me. Even the kids in my parents neighborhood didn't go outside at all. A couple years ago snow and ice knocked out power in my entire town for a week. Here snow means you can't get to work so you don't make money or it means you have to put yourself in danger to get to work AND, if they're young, you have to figure out what the hell to do with your kids and how to get them there. The point I'm trying to make is I often forget how gorgeous and magical the snow is and the fact that if I never experienced it again, I would probably miss it even though when I talk about snow, I never have anything nice to say. I, and I'm sure other people in snowy areas, take it for granted. It's really interesting to hear somebody who hasn't experienced it in the same way I have talk about it. You have a totally different relationship with the snow. It's refreshing.

  19. monkeybutter says:

    +1 for reminding me of Steak 'n Shake. We don't have those here.

  20. Marie says:

    I've never seen snow in my life. =(
    I live in a tropical country (Brazil!) and, even if I live in the southernmost part of the country, it never gets cold enough to snow substantially, and not in the valley where I live. It sometimes snows in the mountains, but only an inch at most. I have a tendency to miss the snow – I go every other time to the mountains, wait for the snow like every other person of my state, but I'm never there at the right time. I think I have a knack for going to places a week before it snows, as I left New York exactly a week before the 2009 Snowpocalypse began.

  21. Thiamalonee says:

    I'm from Chicago, and we're pretty well known for our terrible weather. That's because we get the "OMG! People are dying of heatstroke in 10 minutes!" Summers, and the "OMG! Where did my car go, is it under that six-foot snowbank?" Winters. This year, we had a special experience known as Snowpocalypse. Yes, it deserved that title. 3 days of cancelled classes, and it took my 5 housemates and I four hours to dig out our driveway. We nearly killed each other out of cabin fever.

    So- the Chicago take on snow? Oh, that's pretty for about three weeks, now I wish you'd go away, because I know that it will still be snowing for the next 5 months… Also, Great, now all the people who moved here from somewhere else are going to freak out and not know how to drive. Sigh.

  22. lindseytinsey says:

    I live in Cape Town, South Africa. Never been in a snow storm, never looked out the window and said "hey look, it's snowing", never touched snow. The coldest we get is medium sized hail stones. I have seen snow at the very tops of the higher mountains here though. And I visited Mt Cook in New Zealand… during summer. So, ja… poor me? lol

    I am hoping that Max doesn't get worse… this is awful!

  23. Marie says:

    That story was wonderful! It really brought the review up! Even though I'm a canadian, the corner of the country where I live gets snow very rarely – and yet people gets so annoyed by it even so! The whole city gets shut down (often even the schools) with just a couple inches, and people COMPLAIN. I can sort of see where they're coming from, but I don't understand, they refuse to see how beautiful and magical snow is and instead focus on it negatively.
    I love it though (actually – all the reasons you listed are the reasons for me too! plus I love how it looks when you look strait up at the sky and how it smells and how it makes EVERYTHING beautiful). I always wish and hope for snow whenever its brought up as a possibility

  24. @GalFawkes says:

    I'm sorry, after reading your personal story, I can't stop snorting with giggles. And yeah, Rosa really really grew on me during the chapters you reviewed this week.

  25. Gabbie says:

    Last sentences, of course, are absolutely perfect. D: I have such a literary crush on Zusak right now.

  26. Joanie says:

    magical Jesus flakes from the sky

    Hahahaha, to think that was all I thought you'd be saying on the subject!
    Mark, you have a way with words. I didn't think someone could write about snow, a piece longer than the ENTIRE REVIEW, and make it funny, but you did it! I've always grown up with white Christmases, and even though I'm growing up, I still look forward to the first snowfall every year. Everything just looks so perfect! What isn't cool is freezing rain, which is just a way of ruining everything. That's the one thing I dread about winter. I feel comforted when I'm bundled up and walking outside while it's snowing, my cheeks pink from the wind. Having moved to a different city with less snow, I even miss shovelling the driveway sometimes!

  27. ldwy says:

    That is absolutely amazing. (I'm from RI!)

    I've never quite known how to feel about snowball fights. The idea is fun, and running around in the snow is fun, and making snowballs is fun. But they're hard. They hurt when you get hit. As soon as I ever got hit, the fun was usually over and I wanted to do something else. But I guess maybe I'm just a total wuss, haha.

    Anyway, I love the image of your childhood art project, but it has a tinge of fear for me too! Whole snowballs falling down from above? That's like a snowball fight you can NEVER WIN.

  28. canyonoflight says:

    I live in southeastern TN and we get snow every year, but it rarely sticks around for more than a day. Last year, however, we had a white Christmas and it was glorious. I had a snowball fight with my nephews and built a snowman with them. It was the first Christmas since my dad died that I felt completely carefree. Then, in January, the first week of classes, we had something like 8-10 inches of snow and IT STUCK AROUND ALL WEEK. It was fucking magical. Then it snowed a few more times and I got used to it and was annoyed by it, but those first two times were brilliant. So, I totally understand you. I probably would have taken the ride, though. As a woman I just wouldn't feel safe walking alone in a strange city during a balmy summer night let alone a blizzard.

  29. gunslingerpadme says:

    Snow is amazing in the fact that it makes us want to be children when we see the first few flakes, even if it's only for a few moments. I live in Kentucky, and we only get a "bothersome" amount of snow maybe once a year. As a kid, snow was a magical treat to go put on the ski jacket ( I have pictures. It was the 80's, and this thing was bright blue with red and yellow trim and it was horrible) and build forts and have battles. One year, we built a dragon. Seriously. A green dragon. It was taller than I was, and we added green food coloring to some water, put it into a spray bottle, and colored it green. I loved that thing.

    As a person who has been in therapy since I was 8, I think it's amazing how Hans sums up Max's condition so well. It's true… while Rosa might be correct in thinking that his physical symptoms might have started by sleeping in a damp location, fighting something like this… it's in the mind. And it starts with Hitler. Hans doesn't have the access to our handy dandy therapists.. and he nails it in one.

    Thanks for the awesome snow story. It makes the SAD STORY OF ALL THE SADS a bit better.

  30. SecretGirl127 says:

    Snow, first, then death…I'm from NYC but the family moved to El Paso, Texas when I was seven. That first Thanksgiving my sisters and I were watching the Macy's Thanksgiving parade on TV, talking about how we wished we were in NYC with the snow. My mother comes out of her bedroom, walks over to the huge picture window in the living room, opens the drapes, and announces, "you are watching the downtown El Paso parade, look outside!" SNOW. We all ran out, made a snowman, then my parents joined in for a snowball fight. Good times.

    1. The desperate Jews – their spirits in my lap as we sat on the roof, next to the steaming chimneys…"
    I just love the way Death presents this image. It didn't make me sad. It made me feel, well, not happy, but comforted that they were handled so tenderly.

  31. Inessa says:

    I loved your snow story. But, I read it through twice to make sure, and there was no mention of farts!
    Also, I did start getting scared when the doors wouldn't open. I thought you had gone to a completely wrong builing from being in a frozen delirium, so I also felt very relieved when it turned out the ice wedged the doors. I moved from Moscow at 9 years old to Australia, and the last winter in Russia, the temperatures were down to -40 C. I remember snow, but not with too much fondness. Perhaps it's all mixed up with a time period that was kind of grim. So, I have never been able to warm to the idea of snow (pardon the pun) and I just don't miss it. I don't mind cold but I don't like wet. We visited my sister in law in Toronto 6 years ago, and it was already spring, but still rainy and miserable, and they showed us a massive shovel they use to plow the snow, or they can't open the garage. I wanted to tell them that in Australia, we drive to the snow in winter, frolic, ski and come home to a warm home after; much more civilised.

  32. I've been to the snow once, on a school trip. I wasn't a huge fan of it. It was cold and hard to touch. The whole world was uncomfortably bright and I was sweating because it was a sunny day and I was rugged up in all this bulky slippery padded stuff. But I couldn't take the bulky stuff off because the wind was cold and biting. The only up side to the trip was the heated pool at the hotel we all got to swim in when we got back.

    Although… I am well aware that was mountain snow, not city snow and it wasn't fresh. Fresh city snow might be less windy, bright and hard..? I have never been *in* the snow, as in had snow fall from the sky while I was there to witness it. I imagine that could be charming. However, I just don't like the cold. I'm from Australia, and a fairly moderate to warm part of it.

    To take your tangent and make my own from it. Last Christmas I got a little sick of being wished a happy winter holidays by everyone online and being bombarded with a whole lot of winter themes on websites in the modern attempt to downplay the whole Christmas/religion thing and be inclusive of everyone during the holidays. Which is awesome and all. But y'know, I'm pretty partial to my hot summer Christmases. So I went looking for a term which would wish someone joy during that time of the year no matter any factor at all which may differ from place to place and person to person. I was thinking maybe Happy Holidays, or Happy December. There may be issues I'm unaware of with a modern country which does not use the same months as us? Or a person who does not get a holiday at Christmas? Being 100% inclusive is hard! Does anyone have any suggestions or input?

    *Just a note I don't mean that everyone would then have to use this term all the time or that saying happy winter is not a perfectly fine term which is mostly inclusive, I just want to provide something for myself and anyone who wants to be totally inclusive and/or happens to celebrate Christmas during the summer, or is at any point talking to someone who does to use if they chose to.

  33. stellaaaaakris says:

    I love that everybody is sharing their snow storm stories! I have two.

    I know people have already mentioned the snowpocalypse in DC. It was SO MUCH FUN. Afternoon Friday classes were canceled in anticipation of the snow and we didn't have school again until the following Friday. I arranged my schedule so I don't have class on Fridays, which means I unexpectedly had a 10 DAY WEEKEND. It was amazing. We had a big dinner party at my friends place, about 300 yards from where I live. We made tacos and got drunk and went sledding. Across from her apartment is a small hill with a decent slope. We all used plastic bags and just flew down the hill and into the street, but since there were no cars, it didn't matter. I was using shoes that were too big for me (I don't own rain boots or snow shoes so I borrowed since I was the one trekking through the end of the world) and drunk, so I kept falling while trying to climb up the hill and taking out the people behind me when I slipped. Good times. When I walked back home, I was so tired from trying to lift my legs over the snow, I had to sit down in the snow and rest. And take pictures of people who wrote "Assholes" on the Department of Homeland Security sign in the snow dust. The snow also broke part of my school. A walkway cover collapsed under the weight, but nobody was hurt.

    Story number 2: I'm from New York and am used to dealing with snow. (That's why moving to DC for college really threw me when we'd have class canceled for the day with an inch or so of snow. Back home, we got two feet one night and high school didn't even have a delayed opening the next day.) I was in the city when that snow storm hit the east coast. The trains and things were shutting down and I had to get home (I live an hour away by train). I sprinted through the train station and just managed to get in the train. All is going well for about 40 minutes until we hit something. I was on the train for an extra 2 hours, which would have been fine except they left the train doors open for the police investigation. IT WAS SNOWING INSIDE THE TRAIN. That wasn't too fun, but it's still a story that's fun to tell!

  34. Ida says:

    I always get a little excited at winter's first snow. To clarify: I live very, very, very far up North in Sweden. Wintertimes it gets down at minus 30 degrees Celsius (which would be about -22 Fahrenheit, if my cellphone is correct) and there's a LOT of snow. This year, it came in the beginning of November and it started melting away last week (it's almost gone now!). I am a little sick of snow now, to say the least, but I bet you, next year when the first snow falls, I will be out running in it and so on. I always become a little child at that time of year. It's always magical. (When I was younger, I could not understand how there were people in the world that literally did not know what snow was, and had never even seen it. Also, I could not understand why anyone would think the midnight sun a big deal; I saw it every summer, and the first time I remember being up at night in Gothenburg, down south, I was a little shocked that the night actually was DARK – in the middle of summer! I still prefer our warm, bright summer nights up here, but it's nice to be able to go outside to watch the stars without freezing your ass off.)

    Oh, Max, please don't die!!!!!!!!!!

  35. Ellalalalala says:

    This review ROCKS. I adored your story (every bit apart from the I was an out-of-state brown dude walking through a neighborhood because he was “lost” – I hate that that even has to cross your mind (and hate that it had never ever crossed mine that it would have to cross yours – oh hi privilege, you suck)) and approve your bad choices and want to send you handfuls of snow every day of the year! (If I only had access to some.)

    We don't get much snow in Edinburgh, but we definitely get enough to mock London for SHUTTING DOWN COMPLETELY if it gets any at all.

    I can't get my brain around not having experienced snow either. (It's like the sea – nowhere in Britain is more than a three hour drive from the sea, and I just can't get my head around the concept of the sea-less Midwest.) We don't get much snow, and it's always a bit exciting when it happens (I'm in the shrieking brigade; others are more "meh, novelty white stuff"), but I remember being so touched to witness the first time a new girl at school experienced it. She had come from Jamaica, and she just wouldn't come inside after lunch break because she was so thrilled. It was lovely.

    The snowball chapter made my heart sing.

    And then the horror. Oh god, Max. Rosa being awesome. Hans being wise and wonderful. Liesel blaming herself. Why can't we have nice things?

  36. Roonil Wazlib says:

    I grew up with snow (I live in NH) and I still absolutely love snow. It's magical and beautiful and peaceful and I love everything about it. (except shoveling.)

  37. Dayana says:

    I got so engrossed with your story that I actually believed for a second this had happened like, yesterday and that i would go outside and ther would be 10 feet of snow and I started grumbling to myself until I remembered, oh yeah, SNAP OUT OF IT. Lol!

    Also, to a canadian like me, more specifically someone who lived in Montreal, QC for 12 years – you sound ABNORMAL for likeing snow so damn much. We just grumble about it every year because it fucks with EVERYTHING and we will never get used to it and Jesus Christ why the fuck does it have to be so fucking COLD.

    Montreal Ice Storm of '98.

    Look it up.

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