Thursday 27 December 2007

62. The Book Thief

I picked this up last week when I was in Kingston at Novel Idea, my favourite independent bookstore there. I've been meaning to read this for awhile so was pleased to find it, having finished both The Prestige and The Diving Bell and the Butterfly the night before I was meant to return home - I certainly couldn't have survived the train ride back to Toronto without a book in hand!

This is a Young Adult novel about a young girl living in Nazi Germany who figures out at a young age that she likes two things in life very much: stealing and books. Naturally, these things coincide a fair bit and she begins by stealing a book from a cemetery and then, more dangerously, from a pile of books the Nazis were burning in her hometown (Molching).

Really though, the book thievery is secondary to the descriptions of her day-to-day life leading up to her street being bombed flat. The author chose to make Death the narrator of this book, which allows him to make some pretty righteous pronouncements without seeming directly preachy (which I don't think works - it's pretty preachy at points). It is a YA novel, so I suppose I can forgive a little heavy-handedness; on the other hand, I'm not sure kids need to be reminded in a heavy-handed way what the details of World War II (as described in The Book Thief) mean. Not that I know any young teenagers I can poll on the matter, but I don't recall being an oblivious reader as a kid.

I first saw this book prominently displayed at Book City on the Danforth, where I'll be heading later today to pick up a 2008 calendar and maybe one or two books (hopefully cookbooks!) before my 2008 "no more books" policy comes into effect. In anticipation of that famine, Brook and I went a little crazy at Seekers Books last night (Seekers is a weird used/occult bookstore that is opened until midnight and has a very good selection of fiction). When walking by after dinner with a friend, we discovered that their already cheap books were an additional 30% off for Boxing Week. We got 2 new Wodehouses, a Pullman, a Grass, a Neal Stephenson, the Stephen Colbert book, The Moonstone, a Y. Mishima, an R. Mishima, and a Murakami - all for $68. I think I'm pretty much set up until 2010 or so.

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