Tag: markus zusak

Fun Recent Activities in Utah

It’s no secret that I spend a lot of my life cooped up in doors. Sometimes people will say the weather has been bad but I don’t really know because I’ve been inside all day! So lately for my sanity I’ve been trying to get out and go to more activities- particularly plays and concerts and I thought I would give you a round up of what I’ve seen. Let me know if you’ve seen any of these and what you thought.

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First cool experience is I got to go to the Utah Symphony to hear a concert called An American in Paris which was half Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue and half Schubert’s Symphony No 7 in C Major. I preferred the Gershwin but as Utah has one of the best symphonies in the country it was a great experience.

Next, if you’ve been following my blog you probably know my favorite book is The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. Well, after 13 years he has a new book called Bridge of Clay which I am dying to read. He came to Salt Lake for a lecture and book signing and it was really neat. He autographed my book and I was able to tell him how much his writing meant to me. So cool!

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Then I tried out a new theater in Provo called The Hive.  They were putting on a new original play called The Bookbinders Tale, which I had heard great things about. Unfortunately I found it to be a bit hipstery for me. I think it felt it was being more groundbreaking in its themes and messages than it really was. Still, I like what they are trying to do with the theater and would definitely give them another chance.

Anyone who has been following my blog knows how much I adore Josh Groban. One of the coolest experiences of my life was in 2007 when my friend Camille got bumped from the nosebleeds to down right by the stage! I also love Idina Menzel and have seen her in concert. So I was thrilled to see they were touring together and snatched up a seat (a terrible seat but I was sitting by nice people so it was fun). They did an amazing job and sung all the songs I wanted them to. My only qualm was that the big screen was broken so we could barely see them (the photo of them is from the Deseret News). But other than that a fantastic concert!

I also had the chance to make a new friend named Ashley who is a member of a theater group I follow on facebook. Always good to go out of your comfort zone and meet someone new. 🙂

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As I was driving around in my hometown of Draper I noticed a sign for ‘A Night of Broadway’ by the Draper Philharmonic and Choral Society and decided to give it a try. To my delight it was such a great experience! Everything was so well done with so many different shows covered by talented singers and dancers. There were a few minor hiccups with microphones but other than that it was amazing and I hope to go to many more of their concerts

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I was very excited to see Hale Center Theaters latest version of The Scarlet Pimpernel. I had seen it there once before years ago (at the old Hale of course) and really enjoyed it. Unfortunately this time I left with mixed feelings. It was fun and I enjoyed seeing it with my family I thought some of the casting was a little off (not great chemistry) and the show isn’t very memorable. I couldn’t tell you a single song. Also it doesn’t use the Sink Me and iconic poem very well. The production of the play was very good and great costumes.

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Next I was able to see 3 shows at Hale Center Theater Orem. 2 of them were at a double header of sorts. First I saw The Velveteen Rabbit, which is a play for children written by my former teacher Dave Smith. It was a very sweet little play for kids. Next I saw Anything Goes which is a bright and bubbly play full of Cole Porter songs. Naturally I loved it!

But the greatest surprise was seeing Daddy Long Legs which is a 2 person show based on the classic book (which I’m not high on and I like the movie even less). I went into it with low expectations but I wanted to support Dave and I ended up being delighted. The songs are great! It’s very romantic and I was amazed how they could learn so many lines! Very impressive!

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Finally I went to another ‘Night of Broadway’ this time at the Scera theater in Orem. It was full of talent and they mixed in the standards with some more obscure picks. It was great. My only complaint is the seats in that theater are so small I could barely sit through it and you can’t move the seat arm rest up making it quite uncomfortable. Oh well

So there you have it! It’s been a pretty fun Fall for checking out the arts. There are so many great things to see and do that it can be quite overwhelming. I’m grateful to live in such a artistic and talented place.

What have you been doing lately? Been to any plays or concerts? Any recommendations? Let me know! Thanks!

Book Thief Final Discussion

So this week is the final week for our Book Thief read along.  Check out Sueys books and Kami’s Library

Parts 7- conclusion
“I am haunted by humans.”
I must admit there are tears in my eyes.  I love these characters so much that even on a 5th read through I ache for them.  As I’ve said many times before it is an earned cry.  It is a cry because I care.    The whole theme of The Book Thief is encompassed when Death says the human race can be “so ugly and so glorious,”.  That is this book and what a book!

1. How did you feel when Max had to leave the Hubermanns? What did you expect would happen to him?

Nervous. For sure he was done for and nervous for all involved.  I kept waiting for Liesel to see him in the marches or that Death would tell me another prediction.  When she finally see’s him it is one of the most brutal and sweet scenes of the whole book.  5th time and still made me cry.

2. Why do you think Liesel ran out to Max when they finally did cross paths, even after she had seen what happened to Hans earlier in the book?

True love.  Real friendship.  Love overcoming hate.  Its a perfect moment of so many emotions and yet how could she have not?  There is a limit to how far any human being can be pushed.
3. What did you think of Death spoiling the ending a couple chapters before it actually happened? Did the warning make it easier to handle?

Ugh.  Its so sad.  I cry just thinking about it.  It reminded me of a eulogy at the beginning of a funeral.  Its kind of a summary of the life and then the rest of the service is the meat, the details, the stuff that really matters to creating a meaningful life.

4. Which death impacted you the most?

Ugh.  How do you pick.  Liesel grabbing Hans accordion and weeping over Rosa’s body.  Her kissing Rudy.  My heart breaks.  I guess Rudy but even smaller characters like the Holtzapfels  or Randolph the mysterious soldier are so tragic.  That’s how rich this book is.  You feel deeply for a barely mentioned character.  Its all mankind that’s death impacts me the most.
5. How did your view of Ilsa Herman change over the course of the book?

Ilsa is such a complex character.  Its like she refuses to allow all the pain to confront her and just focuses on one.  I think Zusak does this because he wants to show that the loss of humanity is real and each individual life should be grieved.  Also its interesting that the library is Ilsa’s.  She is a weak human being but she still has power in words like the word shaker

6. The power of words is such a big theme throughout the book. Which instances of powerful words stuck out to you? Or, which quotes from the book stuck out to you?

I already shared some.  A theme of the book is that we are all book thieves.  We all take the words of an author and make them our own.  Make them part of our lives.  That is what the word shaker teaches us that throwing words are the only thing that defeats evil. It also creates evil which is the scary part of the book and why only death could be the narrator.

I love the quote “I have hated words and I have loved them, and I hope I have made them right.”

word shaker
7. In this post Markus Zusak says:
In many ways I felt that the book is about Liesel’s different kind of loves – for Hans, for Rosa, for Rudy and Max, and for books and living in general.
Which of those loves resonated with you most?

I think friendship did.  I guess this is the love that I have the most of in my life. Friendship has saved me time and again.   It is the only love in our lives that is chosen aside from maybe marriage which is perhaps the greatest friendship.  To be someone’s friend is not required or expected where to support a spouse is.  To be a friend takes the ultimate love.  You see this time and again in the story.  Rudy and Liesel.  Liesel and Hans.  Hans and Rosa. Liesel and Max,  Rosa and Liesel.  Ilsa and Liesel.  Max and Hans.  etc.

I love the words of Death:

A DEFINITION NOT FOUND
IN THE DICTIONARY
Not leaving: an act of trust and love,
often deciphered by children

To be a friend is the greatest gift we can give someone and that trust is priceless.

8. Thoughts on Liesel and Death finally meeting?

It felt kind of like God and mankind meeting.  Like a judgement day where someone is admitted into heaven.

9. If this was your first time reading The Book Thief, is it what you expected?
If it was a reread, what did you notice this time around?

I noticed this reread the poetry of the book more than ever before.  I tend to skim books and skip sections of details.  This time I just read.  In many ways the book is an epic poem like Iliad or Odyssey.  Writing such as this is so sublime:

“It amazes me what humans can do, even when streams are flowing down their faces and they stagger on”

Another

“Usually we walk around constantly believing ourselves. “I’m okay” we say. “I’m alright”. But sometimes the truth arrives on you and you can’t get it off. That’s when you realize that sometimes it isn’t even an answer–it’s a question. Even now, I wonder how much of my life is convinced.”

10. Will you see the movie?

Yes.  I’m skeptical but was very pleased with the trailer.  I look forward to seeing it.  Should we get a group of Utahans and all go?

This is really cool. Book Thief mind map
This is really cool. Book Thief mind map

Book Thief Readalong Parts 4-6

book thief2
this is a cool cover

So the readalong of the Book Thief continues and these are the discussion questions for this section with my answers.

To see Suey’s answers go to http://sueysbooks.blogspot.com/2013/09/the-book-thief-read-along-discussion_21.html

Also there is going to be a twitter discussion tonight at 7 pm Mountain time! Hashtag #bookthief.

1. What emotions have you felt while reading? Are they strong emotions?

Worry, fear, anger and love. If fiction can give you strong emotions I certainly felt it from this book

2. Several characters mention similarities between Max and Liesel. What similarities have you noticed, and why do you think the author made these characters relate to each other?

They are both fighters. They both rely on Hans. They are both drawn to books as a survival tactic. They are both hiding and outcasts. They both have nightmares.

3. What do you think of The Standover Man aka the book Max wrote for Liesel.
When I first read the book The Standover Man seemed very adult for a child but let’s be honest Liesel is not able to be a child from the beginning of the story except maybe with Rudy. Its interesting because Max says ‘all my life I’ve been scared of men standing over me’ and then he must hide and he finds the best ‘standover man I’ve ever known is not a man at all’. Does this mean there is a part of Liesel that scares Max? Perhaps the love he feels for her scares him and the knowledge that he could be found and she could be hurt by his presence in the house scares him?

4. How do you feel about knowing who is going to die in the end and what are some of your predictions?
Its tragic but it also helps create anger in the reader. To hear that Rudy ‘didn’t deserve to die the way he did’ makes me upset and yearn for a more just ending for the character, a just ending in life. Anger is an appropriate reaction to this horrible time
It kind of reminds me of the witches in Macbeth. They foreshadow what is going to happen but it just makes the how of the story all the more engrossing.

5. What do you think of Rudy’s rebellious attitude?
He is living in an era where right is wrong and wrong is right. I like when he tells Liesel that he ‘needs a win’. I think that is why he is rebellious. He wants something to make sense. Plus, he’s starving. When he is beaten Franz Deutscher for not reciting Hitler’s birthday it shows how everyone had become a bully and you could either play along or get slaughtered.

6. Is Rosa growing on you?
Yes, there are a couple great scenes that add layers to Rosa’s character. When she is cutting Max’s hair she says ‘I’ll probably make a lot of mistakes on him’. I think Rosa’s anger comes out of a fear that she will make a mistake with Max, someone will find him and they will all suffer.
Also when she refuses to beat Liesel for the Ilsa incident she says ‘It’s not your fault’ and then it says ‘As Liesel left the room, she could hear the wooden spoon clicking back into position in the metal jar that held them. By the time she reached her bedroom, the whole lot of them, the jar included were thrown to the floor’
If Rosa really was the beast she seems at first she wouldn’t have had this moment of sadness for Liesel. I wonder what frustrated her the most? It certainly was more than the loss of a client.

7. What do you think of the relationship between Max and Liesel?
It kind of reminds me of some of my mission companions. We were put together and then found our common interests not the other way around. They are like brother and sister or even father, daughter at times.

8. Why do you think Liesel is so determined to steal from the Mayor’s library?
I think Liesel is angry at Ilsa for grieving. She has so much that others don’t have and yet she grieves. To a child this doesn’t make sense and seems very selfish. Its interesting that her brother is ‘next to her’ when she is yelling at Ilsa and ‘he whispered for her to stop but he too was dead and not worth listening to’. I don’t know what quite to make of that but clearly Liesel was seeing Ilsa with her little girl eyes and not as a spirit with greater understanding as her brother is.

9. What really stands out to you in the story and why?
What always amazes me is how many characters I care deeply about. For example, there could be a whole book about Ilsa. She is such a moving, interesting, layered character. Even a small character like Frau Holtzapfel breaks your heart and you feel for her and her sons.

10. If you were in Hans’ position, would you have helped/hid Max?
I think we all like to think we would but hard to say until you’ve been there. I hope so.

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?