Thoughts on The Book Thief and Colors

the book thiefI kept hearing about The Book Thief. It stayed on my to-read list for a long time, probably because I’d hear it described like this:

It’s about a little girl living in Nazi Germany. Her family hides a Jewish man in their basement and they become friends. The story is narrated by Death.

I thought it sounded too depressing. Strangely though, it’s not.

That’s the basic story, but it’s also about the survival and growth of love in the harshest environments. It’s about the effects of books on our lives, the power of words, and the importance of friendship and hope. More than that even, it’s about colors.

Markus Zusak paints with words and he doesn’t just paint pictures. He paints feelings into those pictures. His father painted houses and that must have influenced his descriptions because the colors come through in such a vibrant and unique way. A sense of wonder and amazement for life can be felt along with the colors and words.

When I read a book, I want to feel and experience everything. Reading The Book Thief feels like this:


Yes, there’s darkness and sadness in it. But there’s also light and so many glowing colors. And the light does have a way of shining through.

40 thoughts on “Thoughts on The Book Thief and Colors

  1. My oldest read this for school. I’ve heard so many wonderful things about it, but I’ve avoided it, because of the heavy subject matter (I’m a wimp; I’ll admit it). But thanks to your thoughts on it, maybe I shouldn’t be so hasty in my avoidance.

    By the way, mailed off your book today. 🙂

    • Thank you for sending that out – I’m excited to read it! I avoided The Book Thief out of wimpiness too, but I’m glad I read it. You wouldn’t think that a book with Death as a character would show such an appreciation for life, but it does. Death can even be kind of funny at times.

    • Carrie, you shouldn’t let the subject turn you away. The book balances the obvious negative facts of war with plenty of hope. For me, it was fascinating because I’ve never read a story about WWII told from the German citizen angle. It’s really, really good.

  2. One of my favorite books of all time. The Book Thief is beautifully and creatively written. I agree…loved how he invoked feelings in colors. You described it perfectly.

    • I think it’s one of my all time favorites too. I’m glad you loved it as much as I did. I just finished it a little while ago and already want to read it again. It also makes me want to look through all the different names for paint colors. 🙂

      • At a writing conference, one of the authors collected paint chip cards. We each picked one and had to choose a color name from the card and work the whole thing or part of the name into a paragraph to read in front of everybody. It was quite fun. Opened my eyes to how many ways to describe things like colors.

      • That’s a great idea! You’d think something like colors would have already been described in every possible way but this book really showed me how many possibilities there are.

  3. I’ll add this to my to-read shelf…I really appreciate stories that I can dive into and feel as I’m reading.

  4. I’ve avoided this one because of the difficult subject matter. I don’t handle such stories well, either in books or films. It’s not that I’m burying my head in the sand—I just see news of too many horrific events in the real world. Reading, for me, is an escape.

  5. Because of your wonderful comments and your visual, I’m looking forward to reading “The Book Thief”. Thanks, Sheila

    • Yes, I’d have to say it’s one of my favorites and my favorites don’t change very often. What did you love most about it? The writing style and descriptions really made me love it, but the story is also a great one. It’s hard to find books that do both so well.

      • What did I love about it? Hmmm…I think it was the writing style and the way the whole book was presented. The topic/story is pretty common but the writer found a unique way of telling his story.

  6. It’s one of those books I need to buy for my bookshelf and reread now and then. I wanted to get to the end, and yet I didn’t want the book to be finished. It’s a beautiful story told from a great angle.

    • I didn’t want it to end either. It is strange that a book about something that sounds like it must be depressing could be so uplifting. I’m glad you enjoyed it as much as I did!

  7. Sounds like a book worth reading.
    I have added it to my wish list.
    Pity we don’t have a well-stocked library here.

    • Hi Amira! Sorry your comment didn’t go through right away. It’s such a great book – I think you’d love it. It can be sad but some of that is foreshadowed so then the reader is prepared for it. Mostly though, the reader comes away with an appreciation for life and friendship. If you email me your address, I’ll try sending it to you because I think you’d really enjoy it.

      • that’s so kind of you. I have in-boxed you my address.
        You are referring to post I assume.
        I guess it could be expensive. Please do not bother if it is expensive. I can wait and see if I can find an alternative way.
        Anyways, thanks for the thought.

      • Yes, I’ll send it that way. It shouldn’t be too bad with a book rate and hopefully that way won’t take too long. I do love sharing books! The only thing is now you’ll have to let me know what you thought of it. 🙂

      • I will hardly be able to restrain myself from writing my style of review of the book 😀
        I am such a book addict – once I start reading something I have to finish it through no matter how boring or how long it takes. If it is a good one, I lose sleep over it 🙂

  8. My son asked me to read it, after he did and although it’s not my cup of tea in subjects, I did, and thought it was a really great book. I would recommend it and I enjoyed your post, Sheila! Hugs to you!

    • That’s great that you and your son read it and could talk about it together. I’m glad you loved it too. Thanks so much and hugs to you!

    • I’m happy to hear that (and now if you get depressed while reading it you can blame me)! But strangely enough, it’s not depressing and it’s worth reading just for the writing style.

  9. I didn’t know much about this book before your great post, Sheila. I love writing that’s filled with prose and imagery, so I think I’d like to try this despite the subject matter. Thanks for a good suggestion to add to my book list!

    • This one is overflowing with really unique prose and imagery so I think you’ll love it. I ended up loving it mostly for the writing style but it’s a good story too.

  10. Thanks for this review, I have this book on my wishlist, so now I am even more excited to read it. I am also a bit of a whimp when it comes to heavy subject matter, but good to hear there is a lot of hope too.

    • I’m guessing you’ll love this because of your love of the classics. It reminds me of some classics because it pays attention to the sound of the language and words. The sad parts are foreshadowed so they’re not too shocking. Really though, that Death character does have a way of making us appreciate life.

  11. Once I got through the first 30 pages I couldn’t put it down, didn’t know alot about the book itself when I read it so I had no expectations and have since recommended it to several people.

    • I’m glad you loved it too! Sometimes I think it’s better not knowing much about a book before reading so that you go into it with no expectations like that. Then a book can be more of a surprise.

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