Wednesday, April 25, 2012

WIAW and The Book Thief

Welcome to another installment of BLWB book reviews! As you may know, I try to participate in a monthly book club that Julie runs on her blog, Peanut Butter Fingers. This month's book was The Book Thief by Markus Zusak; my comments and questions are below in case you have read it, are thinking about it, or need a good book to read. Also, special hello and welcome to PBF fans - thanks for stopping by!

First up, let's do a fun round of today's eats. Today felt super strange, mostly because of the weather: the news predicted rain, we got sun and warmth most of the day. (Then, of course, when I headed outside for a workout, guess what happened? I ran for cover and hope to finish up my cardio tonight after my meeting, especially since yesterday was an unintentional rest day.) Plus my classroom is freeeeezing, so that added to the weird weather. On top of all that, we finished with standardized testing for the students today, so classes only lasted 30 minutes. Odd day, indeed.

So here's my What I Ate Wednesday, which turned out fairly normal given the strange vibes I had.

7:30 Breakfast + Tea
Leftver quiche from Monday night

10:15 Snack - Banana (You don't really need to see a picture of a banana, right? You do? Okay, fine.)
That's what you get!
12:15 Lunch

HUGE salad

Avocado, bell pepper, tomato, corn, 1/2 whole wheat tortilla, cucumber, spinach,  BBQ sauce

4:15 Snack
Unripe and almost tasteless pear

5:40 Dinner

Since I had a meeting after work today, I had to pack up dinner to bring with me. Unfortunately, I always neglect to bring the toppings for my chili - sour cream and cheese. Granted, it's still delicious without it, but not quite as good as it was yesterday. (Perhaps not having my Fat Tire with it caused the problem...)

Leftover chili from last night

But the corn bread needed no toppings and was therefore equally delicious.

One piece tonight :-) 

9:30 pm - Late night baking snack
Last night, I made cupcakes for some coworkers who have birthdays today and tomorrow. But the first batch got claimed before the second coworker got any, so I came home late tonight and baked up another batch. So my baking snack was about 17 finger dips into the frosting (had to test it out, right?) plus a beer and an actual cupcake. Delicious way to end the day!

The Book Thief

We all know I'm a sucker for historical fiction, so I was super excited that this month's selection was set in Germany during World War II. But this book had a few other extremely interesting details, like the fact that it focuses on a little girl and her foster family. The girl, Liesel, her foster family, and most of the people she knows are not Jewish. Very often I've read books from the opposite perspective, and I found it extremely thought-provoking to view the war from the eyes of non-Jewish families.

The most interesting aspect of the book was the narration: The story is told from the omniscient viewpoint of Death. I thought this narration choice was brilliant! Who better to describe a war than Death himself, who has to take the souls of the war's casualties? Even better, the character of Death was at times hilarious, sarcastic, poignant, touching, depressing, and extremely wise.

My favorite quote from Death is when he is describing a bonfire/book burning. He mentions that the enthusiasm of the crowd invited a lot of heil Hitlers, to which he says:
You know, it actually makes me wonder if anyone ever lost an eye or injured a hand or wrist with all of that. You'd only need to be facing the wrong way at the wrong time or stand marginally too close to another person. Perhaps people did get injured. Personally, I can only tell you that no one died from it, or at least, not physically. There was, of course, the matter of forty million people I picked up by the time the whole thing was finished, but that's getting all metaphoric (93).
Honestly, once I had determined the narrator, I expected a grim (ha), unforgiving voice, but this paragraph illustrates that his tone was anything but. Certainly, given that it's a book set during WWII, there are tough moments - I won't spoil it for you! - but Death's voice gave the entire novel a matter-of-fact kind of spunk that really made me think.

If you're considering this book or are looking for a fantastic read, I highly recommend The Book Thief. Yikes, I'm realizing that my reviews are all positive - trust me, I don't love all books (hey, Faulkner, I'm talking to you). For those who have already read it, here are my questions:
  • What were your thoughts on Death's frequent observations of the color of the sky?
  • What did this book make you think about the role of fate in determining someone's death? (Not to give anything away, I'm thinking about those who died because they took someone's place or because they thought they were saving someone.) 
  • What did you think of the fact that Death constantly foreshadowed (or blatantly announced) who was going to die and when? 
  • What did you think of Ilsa Hermann?
  • Who was your favorite character?
Quotes to Consider:
  • (About Papa) "Perhaps Liesel was the one thing he was a true expert at." (200)
  • (Death) "...I am constantly overestimating and underestimating the human race." (419)
  • (Death) "I am haunted by humans." (419)
Thoughts on Theme:
  • Words are a source of power, for good or bad, and how they are used creates a huge domino effect.
  • Fate overrules good intentions.

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