On learning how to read

Every so often I wish for a book. Of late I’ve been losing the focus to read. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – when I read I don’t really read. The words and plot plays out like a drama in my head and I lose myself in the book. It has been a disturbingly long time since I experienced this and I was hoping for a book that would successfully pull me out of the rut. 

I didn’t think the Book Thief would do it. How wrong I was and how glad! I didn’t think that there was another way to tell a holocaust story, that we’d really seen and read every variation. So I opened the book and the first few pages left me very confused. I didn’t understand the narrative voice, the timeline seemed blurred and it simply wasn’t making sense. So the first night I went to sleep disheartened. The following night I tried again and this time I paid attention. There is one key aspect to remember throughout the narrative and everything falls into place beautifully.

The style is unconventional to say the least and I hope that the author writes more. It is refreshing to read a book that makes you think, read lines twice and then marvel at the sheet brilliance of words. Each page had a line that left me contemplating long after I had passed it. The only other book that I can compare it to is ‘The Little Prince’ – another book which took me a while to understand. 

I was amazed to realise that after thirty one years I had learned something new about book-reading. That it’s not just about what you read but also about how you read. 

A review of The Book Thief would be bland because the story can be summarised in two lines of morose prose – a young girl Liesel in Nazi Germany and books! This book has to be experienced. The words savoured, the imagery imagined and the lines repeated over and over. The last line took my breath away. I too am haunted!


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