Tag: death

Book Thief

book thief

I’ve mentioned several times on this blog how much I love The Book Thief by Markus Zusak.  I can confidently say it is the best book published in my lifetime.  I can’t think of anything that even comes close.  My favorite book is still North and South but this one is a very close second.

The reason why I wanted to profile it today is because my blogger friend over at Suey’s Books also loves this novel and is doing a read-along in September.  There will be insight posted daily with discussion questions, twitter chatting etc.  I will be participating and I thought some of you might enjoy it also http://sueysbooks.blogspot.com/2013/08/announcing-book-thief-read-along.html

The other news on the Book Thief front is the trailer for the upcoming movie came out.  In some ways I’m optimistic (I really felt it was an unfilmable book) but in other ways very skeptical (how can you not have death in the trailer!).  Those who’ve read it what do you think?

If you are one of the few people who haven’t read The Book Thief let me tell you why it is so spectacular.  It is set in WWII Nazi Germany but it is not a Holocaust book; although that certainly plays into the story.  That alone makes it unique.  Then it is narrated by death as a sarcastic, scary, biting, politically neutral force.  It is a brilliant choice as narrator not simply a gimmick.  Who else could be neutral about WWII?

Then you have a little girl, Liesel, who’s parents are communists so she and her brother are smuggled onto a train where the brother dies and Liesel stumbles upon her first book.  Unable to read she takes it anyway and shows it to her new foster parents The Hubermans.

Rosa and Hans Huberman are quite the couple.  Hans is all loving and sweetness; while Rosa is somewhat of a tyrant.  However, you know that she is helping this girl and a Jewish man named Max who hides in the basement so she can’t be all bad.  Later Liesel becomes friends with a little boy named Rudy who adores her and the mayor’s wife Ilsa who has a whole library for her to explore.

WWII unfolds for these characters with all kinds of moral challenges, sweet moments and tragedy.  You have to read it.  The thing that amazes me about The Book Thief is how many well developed characters there are.  Most books are lucky if you have two dynamic characters.  This book has at least 6 maybe more.  There are characters that only appear for a page or two and yet you see a whole story arc and feel for them.  It’s amazing.

Then the book has so much to say.  First, its a commentary on war and the baseness but also grandeur of human nature.  Death teaches the reader about all he has learned about mankind at his job, especially in the busy season of WWII.  A character like Rudy shows the innocent and loving side.  Rosa shows the complex but deeply human side.  Hans shows the brave side.  Everything around them shows the horrible side.

The Book Thief also has something to say about books and the power of words.  Liesel is a book thief but in a way aren’t we all.  We take the inner most thoughts of the author, absorb it and then make it our own.  In the book-within-a-book that Max writes for Liesel, The Word Shaker, we learn about a group of people who have the power to throw words at people. One particular girl climbs a tree and the fuhrer tries to chop it down but despite trying multiple axes he cannot cut the tree or destroy the word shaker.

(See why I think this movie is unfilmable).  Anyway, Zusak’s point is that words create evil and have the power to save humanity.  We should in the end all be book thieves like the word shaker. Maybe such tragedy shown in the book wouldn’t happen if we did.

I hope that isn’t any spoilers.  I tried.  Its such a great book.  I’ve read it 4 or 5 times and each time I have a full spectrum of emotions including weeping.  Not a small tear but actual flooding. And its a good kind of crying.  A crying where you have been truly moved, not manipulated. Second to last time I read it I was listening to it (a great audiobook btw) on a greyhound coming home from a swim in Vegas and at certain point I started to cry.  I couldn’t help myself.  I wonder what those bus riders thought of me!

Anyway, take this chance with Suey’s read along and read The Book Thief.  You won’t regret it.  I’m reading it again and I look forward to being dazzled all over again.  Happy Reading!

Please put in the comments what you think of the trailer.  Hopeful? Skeptical?

 

3 Conference Sessions and a Funeral

So I’ve had an interesting weekend, full of highs and lows.  It started out yesterday with the first 2 sessions of General Conference for my church.  This is where the leadership speak and give us guidance.  I really felt I needed this conference as the gay marriage debate had been kind of draining and I needed nourishment.

2 talks I loved on Saturday were.

The Savior Wants to Forgive by Elder Cardon

and

I also loved Elder Bednar’s bold teachings on the family, chastity and the sanctity of marriage.  I think it will be a standard for years to come on this topic.

How I watch Conference
How I watch Conference

I had the great experience of tweeting my thoughts along with the LDS twitter community during Conference and found it an enriching, wonderful experience.  I have always benefited from using multiple senses to absorb knowledge and reading, writing, viewing and listening to Conference help me.   This was the first conference where they actually listed the hashtag #LDSConf at the beginning of each session!

Saturday my Mom came into town for my cousin’s funeral and my sister came up to see me.  It’s for a sad reason but it’s still fun to see my family.

mom and sis

Sunday I enjoyed another great session with President Uchtdorf’s talk on hope really comforting me and giving peace.

Finally as my sister, Mom and I were driving to the funeral we heard this amazing address by Elder Holland:

This includes one of my favorite stories in the scriptures where the man hoping for healing for his son says ‘I believe’ and then adds ‘help thou my unbelief’.  Elder Holland used the story to show that starting with what we do know and what we do believe is important and should give us encouragement for the things we do not know.  He said to hold on to those truths and never forget what you have been taught by the Lord.  I was very moved and if I hadn’t been driving I would have probably burst into tears.  The Lord does know and He teaches us line upon line, precept upon precept.

The last few years there have been some tests but I can honestly say I am stronger in my faith than ever before.  No man or woman can take that away from me and I loved Elder Holland’s words of peace and assurity.

So after listening to Elder Holland’s talk I got to hear Elder Oaks and then spent the rest of the day with my family.  I hope to catch up quickly on the speakers I missed.

I’m so beyond grateful to have a living prophet to guide and direct me.  I am so grateful to be a Mormon.  I am so grateful to know the Gospel has been restored.  I love my church!

The rest of the night was spent at my cousin’s viewing.  I have a hard time with viewings and seeing the body.  It’s always felt like they are not there and seeing the shell of the person makes me sad.  I wasn’t particularly close to my cousin but you’d have to be made of stone to not be moved to compassion for her family.  She has 2 little boys who don’t have a mother now and her father and mother have lost both of their children to drug-related problems.  It is tragic.

I was thinking today about my brother and what if his two precious children were to die at young ages.  I can’t even imagine how hard that would be.

Thankfully we believe in eternal families and chances for exaltation for those that choose to follow Christ, even if it is in the spirit world.  This knowledge provides solace for the pain that grief causes in most of our hearts.  That said, the pang of missing a loved one is still there and can be overwhelming.  Eternity can feel like a long way away.

Life is certainly full of surprises and lessons.  Please pray for my family.  Thank you, Rachel.

ps.  The funeral is actually tomorrow.  Not exactly the day off I had hoped for but I’m sure I will learn a lot.  A time to ponder.