Books in the Book Thief

The Grave Digger’s Handbook:
This book was picked up by Liesel from the burial site of her brother. It was dropped by a gravedigger-in-training. The Grave Digger’s Handbook represents Liesel’s last connection to her brother. It is also the book which taught her to read and sparked her interest in books. When Hans finds out Liesel can’t read, he starts midnight reading classes, reading The Grave Digger’s Handbook. This book also represents her last connection to her old life before the train ride, it is the last connection to her past.

The Shoulder Shrug:
This is the book which Liesel rescued from the burning of the bonfires. It was deemed burnable because it had a Jew protagonist. This may be the reason Liesel was so accepting towards max when he arrived. She took the book from the fire fully understanding the consequences of being caught. She took the book home in her jacket with it still burning which means she cared more about the words which she would read then the burns she would receive. This book represents rebellion against the Nazi rampage against books. They wanted to get rid of anything that didn’t relate to Germany being superior and they burned any reference to Jewish Germans. Connects her to Frau Hermann as she sees Liesel taking the book from the fire.

The Dream Carrier:
This is the first book which Liesel steals from Frau Hermann. After Liesel is given a note from Frau Hermann saying they are sorry they can no longer pay to have their washing done, Frau Hermann gives Liesel this book as a token. Liesel doesn’t want the book because she is so angry at them for cancelling Mama’s last job. She doesn’t want it as a gift she does, however, want to read the book so she decided to steal it. This is her way at getting back at Frau Hermann for cancelling the job, another rebellion. She also wants to be in that library again, but she can’t go in the way offered by Frau Hermann. This is also the book which Liesel read to Max whilst he was sick.

A Song in the Dark:
This is the book which Liesel read during the bombings. When Liesel started reading she brought peace to the shelter. Everyone stopped crying, talking, worrying and just listened. This book became to her what his accordion was to Hans Hubermann, her power to inspire people. Through her reading, people saw how words were destined to be Liesel’s power. It’s fitting that the book was named ‘A song in the dark’ because reading this book was Liesel’s song,  her song in the dark of the bomb shelter. “Out of respect, the adults kept everyone quiet, and Liesel finished chapter one of The Whistler.”

The Standover Man:
This is the book which Max gives Liesel as a late birthday present. He paints over pages of Mein Kampf to write and illustrate it. The book talks about all the people Max has had standing over him in his life, telling him what he should do, where he should go. They have all been bad standover men but “the best standover man I’ve ever known is not a man at all…” Max was scared of all the standover men before Liesel, or when he was hiding he was scared to sleep as he didn’t know who would be standing over him when he woke up. When he woke from sleeping for 3 days, after finding the hubermann’s, he didn’t find a man standing over him but young Liesel. The book shares his fears but also his story of becoming friends with Liesel.

Mein Kampf:
This book was Max’s saviour from getting caught on his way to Himmel street. He uses it to hide the key to the hubermann’s and as a camouflage so people would not think the he was a jew. Despite being his greatest enemy, hitler’s, biography probably talking about the aryan race, ridiculing Jewish people and culture it was used by him to escape the regime. Liesel asks Max if the book is good, “It’s the best book ever, it saved my life.” Max eventually rips pages out of the book, paints them white and writes the Standover Man as a late birthday present for Liesel. So the pages brought joy to a young girl, saved a Jews life and were meant to be propaganda against the Jews.

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