Wednesday, July 7, 2010

#20 The Reader

If I stick to my schedule, I have 3 weeks left of Moby Dick and 4 weeks left of Les Miserables and I've been getting a bit antsy about not completing anything lately. I don't know what's wrong with me but despite having completed more than half of Moby Dick, I still feel like I'm not doing anything, like I'm slacking because I haven't finished anything in over a week and a half. I decided that I needed to get my hands on some smaller, less epic, books to knock off my list while finishing the big ones. (I'm realizing, now, that I am quite strange) I still don't have a job and so money is still quite lacking, so off I went, last night, to the public library. Thank God for the library.  I walked out with 4 for me to sink my teeth into.

The Reader (Movie Tie-in Edition) (Vintage International)Being antsy to accomplish something, I started with the smallest one. The Reader by Bernhard Schlink. OK, I'll admit that it wasn't just the length that caused me to pick it up. I heard a lot about the film with the Oscar buzz but never saw it. Of course, this all goes back to my "read the book before seeing the movie" rule. Add in the fact that I'm a big sucker for books that have been made into movies and I was more than a little intrigued by this book in particular.

I was totally sucked in by this book. It's only 218 pages and I read 163 of them in an hour or two last night. In fact, the only reason I didn't devour the entire book last night was that I prefer to write up these posts as soon after finishing the book as I can, while the feelings are still fresh. It was late and I'd already shut down the laptop so I put off Part Three until this morning.

The book is about a young man named Michael Berg. Michael is 15 when he gets sick on his way home from school. He is helped by a woman named Hanna, who is twice his age. Michael and Hanna end up becoming lovers and he becomes enthralled with her. The relationship lasts for several months before she leaves town, suddenly and without warning. Michael is hurt and confused but goes on with life, eventually attending law school. He doesn't see her again until he attends a trial for Nazi war criminals as a school assignment. Hanna is one of the defendants.

As he watches the trial, Michael is stunned that she makes no real effort to defends herself or her actions. Eventually he realizes that she may be hiding something else, a secret that she is willing to go to prison to keep.

I was definitely pulled into the story right from the beginning. There is a little mystery and intrigue but at heart it's a romance. It's a little disturbing to think of a relationship between a 15 year old and a thirty-something as romantic, but it was. Through his whole life and future relationships, Michael can't achieve the feelings he had with Hanna. She is the one relationship that shook him to his core and changed him as a person. No one else can compare or live up to her, even after being accused of a heinous crime. In the end this book is just a beautiful love story. I found it to be touching, sad, romantic and totally engrossing. I wasn't expecting to be sucked in but I was, completely. I highly recommend it.

*Off Topic* Is blogger being a bit slow for anyone else? There is a major lag when trying to type and it's incredibly frustrating. I ended up having to type elsewhere and copy and paste to keep from pulling all my hair out. 


Helen Smith said...

I read this a couple of years ago on someone's recommendation - it's just not the type of book I would ever normally pick up. But I agree with you - it draws you in. It's disturbing and involving. Definitely recommended! And I love short books.

Brenna said...

Ok two things. One I want to read The Reader and have yet to get around to it. But your review is fantastic thank you. Two, yesterday my comments on blogger weren't showing up but after I clicked on my comments they were there, if that makes sense. Basically it said "0" comments but really there were like 5. I think blogger has been being odd lately. You aren't the only one.

Carin S. said...

I loved this book! Read it probably in 1998 or 1999 - around when it was a Oprah book. In fact it's always the example I use when people accuse Oprah books of being lightweight ("it's translated from the German..." is usually all I have to say to win that argument!) I was surprised to read a really different angle on WWII when you think everything's already written about it.

Becky (Page Turners) said...

This is a great great book isn't it?! I read it in one sitting, i think it took about an hour and a half to read it all, and it was an hour and a half well spent. I really loved the story, and it made me think so much about the reality of living in those times. Its that old issue isn't - good people doing bad things and how do you reconcile it?

Reading Rachel said...

So glad that so many others enjoyed it as well. I highly recommend it to anyone.

Brenna- thanks for letting me know that I'm not alone. I was worried it may be on my end. I've had some issues with comments as well. The dashboard says I have some to be moderated but when I click it there are none. Now with the typing lag while posting I'm reading to scream. Hope they fix it soon.

Knox said...

I listened to this one on Cd after repeatedly not buying it. It picked it up several times after the whole movie thing. But listening I just wasn't that impressed. Kinda felt like the story never got very in depth. After reading your thoughts, maybe I'll actually read the book sometime and see if I like it better.

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