When I heard there was going to be a film made of The Book Thief, I knew I had to read it again before it came out...
The First Time
I first read The Book Thief long before I had started this blog, so there is no review to link you back to... however, I remember loving the altered perspective of reading from Death's POV, I remember loving Liesel and Hans and seeing every character and scene so very clearly. I enjoy novels that document events in WW2 and this book was possibly one of the first I read on the subject. It showed German life under Hitler's rule very honestly - even innocently.
I remember wanting to illustrate the side-notes and anecdotes. I think I might have done, with a couple...!
Most of all, I remember the shattering finale; sobbing heavily into the pages and walking around in a bit of a daze once the novel had been closed.
Despite this, I didn't find the book to be gripping. I easily dipped in and out of it, enjoying it when I was in it, but not longing for the next free minute to delve in again.
The Second Time
Having read a number of WW2 fiction since The Book Thief, I wondered whether it would have the same emotional effect the second time round. Then, I realised Death tells you what is going to happen very early on in the book anyway - was I forewarned as much before?
Once again I found myself instantly warming to Liesel and Hans - their relationship is just beautiful. However, this time I found I had more of an understanding for Rosa, Liesel's foster mother. I think I saw more of the subtleties in her moods, and began to empathise with her character better than before.
Death was a surprise for me. I had such memories of Death's observations - of his gift for describing colour so uniquely and for his attention to small things. I remembered his way of describing souls as tangible senses. On the second reading, I actually found Death to be a bit... pretentious! Some of his phrases sounded cliche more than profound. Perhaps this is due to "copy cat" novels having come afterwards, but I was not expecting such a reversal in my opinion of a character.
Emotionally, I found I was tearing up at points I didn't before. New characters and situations were stirring me. The ending still had me going, but it wasn't a gasping-for-breath cry that I remember!
Similarly to the first time, I still found I could easily stop reading at the end of chapters. However, this time I think I understood why. Death tells you what's coming. All the time! There is no mystery to keep you gripped, only the enjoyment of the experience of knowing these wonderful characters.
Will there be a Third Time?
I don't doubt that there will be. Perhaps a few years down the line, once I have watched the film and have been either horrified or elated at it's adaptation! I actually look forward to the third reading, to see how far my reactions and opinions will have changed once again!
I was not expecting such a difference in my reading experience of The Book Thief, but I enjoyed it just as much the second time around, if for different reasons!
Revisited || The Book Thief
Emma is a designer living in Bristol, UK. A self-confessed stationery addict, book lover and TV sci-fi geek, she enjoys sketching zombie-eyed women and finding her next source of inspiration in the pages on the bookshelf.