Five Star Book: The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

A part of me does not even want to write about this book.  As if my attempts at describing it will reduce it down somehow, simplify it too much. The Book Thief is in some ways deceptively simple, written originally for young adults, the language and style are uncomplicated and the plot – the story of a young German girl who moves to a town on the outside of Munich to live with foster parents right before World War II – is very easy to follow. But from the first chapter I could tell that this book wasn’t like anything I had ever read before. For one thing it’s narrated by Death.

This choice, to have a supernatural being, whom is never fully described or explained, narrate the highly politically charged (obviously given the time and setting) novel, could read as a gimmick, a cheapening somehow of the real pain and suffering of the German people (both Jewish and not) under Hitler’s regime, but instead it allows Zusak distance from his characters that may have seemed cold otherwise. And more importantly it allows him to make grand statements about the horror and beauty of humanity without seeming overly bombastic. I got the sense that, just like the twelve-year-old protagonist Liesel, Death was really trying to reconcile how people could be both so awful and so wonderful to each other.

More than just a novel about war, though it’s one of the best of those that I’ve ever read, it’s also a testament to the power, and the limitations of words. Especially through the thoughts of Max Vadenberg, a Jewish prize-fighter on the run, Zusak illustrates very well way that the Nazi’s used words to bring people on to their side. But through Liesel and deep drive to learn to read and write, even when it means stealing banned books from Nazi bonfires, he also shows the redemptive power of stories.

Ok I’m going to stop before I gush even more. But seriously you guys, read this book, but if you are a crier like me, maybe not on the train. You’ll get some looks.

The Book Thief is this fall’s official selection for “One Book One Chicago” click here for more info

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Award Show Round Up: Emmys 2012

Again, my browser last night decided it was anti-Wordpress, so I’m going to recap something you either watched or don’t care about a day after everyone else already recapped it, but I already wrote this so it’s being posted anyway.

As previously discussed, I love award shows, of all kinds (though I tend to skip the Grammy’s – they always seem to be the same night as the BAFTAs and movies just mean more to me than music on the radio.) Anyway the Emmy’s are always an odd show for me, because though I love TV, there are only so many hours in my week so I can’t have seen even close to everything nominated (which I try to do with the movie awards in the winter). But I love Glamour and acceptance speeches so here were my favorite things from Sunday night:

  1. Many Patinkin, holla” – a line from the lovely Claire Dane’s acceptance speech for Outstanding Actress in a Leading Role – Drama for Homeland,  as I said to my friends/cable enablers Justin and Kristin, I’m going to start inserting Many Patinkin into conversations just so I have an excuse to quote this.

2.  I’m going to say this: Modern Family is overrated. I like it, but c’mon. I’m happy for Louis though, and I think Lena’s new hair is adorable.


Jason Merritt / WireImage

3. Holy Homeland, Batman! – I admit that I have not seen nearly enough of this Showtime drama, but I really was not expecting it to sweep the way that it did! But both Danes and Damien Lewis were really charming, and their writers that got played off before they could thank their wives were adorable when they got called back up for Best Drama.

Dan MacMedan, USA TODAY

4. Speaking of adorable – I thought Jimmy Kimmel did a very good job, his bit with his parents was really great. Though the Tracy Morgan passing out thing went on a bit too long for me. But can we talk about how it seemed that no one had explained the bit to Connie Britton and Hayden Panettiere?

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5. Jon Stewart is amazing, and so were Colbert and Jimmy Fallon tackling him to the ground.

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6. Also there were some pretty dresses:

Steve Granitz/WireImage

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Also at an after party – this apparently happened: