Tag Archives: the book thief

On the Bookshelf XXVI


The Once and Future King by T.H. White
A classic retelling of the story of King Arthur. Meant to read for school last year and never picked it up. So I just did. If the first paragraph is any indication, this will be tremendously entertaining.
Beyond Good and Evil by Frederic Nietzsche
Nietzsche for the win. (Not really.) First impressions? Dry as the Sahara, cranky as Hades, occasionally very fascinating, often very dull, and rather difficult to take seriously. Thankfully, it’s getting more interesting the deeper I go. More wrong, too – but at least more interesting in its wrongness.
In the Beginning: Great Opening Lines from Your Favorite Books edited by Hans Bauer
Presenting the first sentence to over 700 novels – including many of the good (The Road), some of the bad (Twilight), and every now and then, the very ugly (50 Shades of Grey? Are we for realz?). Anyway, it’s an amusing little read, and as a writer, I enjoyed seeing how various authors approach the all-important first hook. Thanks to brother Eddie for pointing me to it.
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
One of my favorite stories, long overdue for a re-read. It’s been a few years since my first time through, so I’m looking forward to savoring it again. If you have neglected to read it even once, well, what is wrong with you exactly? Get on with it.

What’s on your bookshelf right now?

Book Review: I Am the Messenger

Protect the diamonds. Survive the clubs. Dig deep through the spades. Feel the hearts. I am the messenger.

Ed Kennedy is a loser – a scruffy, 19-year-old cabdriver with no prospects and no motivation. He stinks at playing cards, is hopelessly in love with his best friend, Audrey, and is entirely devoted to his dog, the Doorman (who drinks coffee and “stinks a kind of stink that’s impossible to rid him of”). Ed’s life is one of dull routine and incompetence – until he singlehandedly foils a bank robbery.

That’s when the first ace arrives in his mailbox. That’s when Ed becomes the messenger. But as he makes his way through town – helping, healing, even hurting when necessary – there’s still one question that remains: Who is behind Ed’s mission?

Zusak’s The Book Thief is one my favorite novels, holding a special place on my shelf alongside heavyweights like The Road and Crime and Punishment. Naturally, then, I had high hopes for I Am the Messenger. Very high hopes.

Hopes which remained largely unrealized.

It pains me to say it, but it’s true: I Am the Messenger is nowhere near as good as The Book Thief. Not by a long shot. Almost everything I loved about that novel is absent from this one. Talk about disappointing.

Now c’mon, you say, that’s not entirely fair. Judge the book on its own merits. Well, I did. And it’s still not very impressive. Decent work, perhaps, but nothing truly great. Nothing I’d be tempted to visit again.

Continue reading Book Review: I Am the Messenger

Five Favorite Novels

THE ROAD by Cormac McCarthy
McCarthy is hands-down my favorite novelist. I have yet to read one of his books and come away disappointed. From the blazing morality play in No Country for Old Men, to the violent poetry of Blood Meridian, McCarthy has long since established himself as one of the greats. That said, if I had to choose only one of his works to call my favorite, it would be The Road. It’s a post-apocalyptic saga, both epic and intimate – a tale of survival, depravity, and remarkable courage. Above all that, however, it’s a love story; fierce, beautiful, gritty depiction of the bond between father and son.
“My job is to take care of you. I was appointed to do that by God. I will kill anyone who touches you. Do you understand?”

CRIME AND PUNISHMENT by Fyodor Dostoevsky
My first taste of Dostoevsky, and what a taste it was! Crime and Punishment is one of those classic classics; a book I can’t help but recommend to every single person who crosses my path. It is at once a gut-wrenching morality play, a brilliant psychological study, and a gripping crime thriller  (not to mention a stunning refutation of Frederic Nietzche’s “Superman”). It’s dark and heavy, yes, but also shot through with hope; a story that affirms both the lostness of the human condition and the power of Christ to save.
“We sometimes encounter people, even perfect strangers, who begin to interest us at first sight, somehow suddenly, all at once, before a word has been spoken.”

FAHRENHEIT 451 by Ray Bradbury
Bradbury one of those storytellers I can return to over and over again without tiring. He’s a master wordsmith, a spinner of tales wonderful, wise, and bizarre. And Fahrenheit 451 is his tour de force. It doesn’t revolve around aliens, robots, or mutating viruses. The primary focus is mankind… and the dangers inherent to a society that’s gone almost completely brain-dead. If you haven’t read it, you must. It’s an example science fiction at its very finest: thrilling, chilling, and smart.
“We need not to be let alone. We need to be really bothered once in a while. How long is it since you were really bothered? About something important, about something real?”

THE BOOK THIEF by Markus Zusak
The Book Thief is the literary equivalent of Roman Polanski’s film The Pianist: artful, absorbing, devastating, beautiful. Quite simply, unforgettable. And though it is classified in the Young Adult section of the bookstore, it deserves the consideration, not only of older teens, but of adults as well. It is a story of love and loss, tragedy and hope, wrapped in prose that will take your breath away.
“I’m always finding humans at their best and worst. I see their ugly and their beauty, and I wonder how the same thing can be both.”

This acclaimed novel is ostensibly a courtroom drama, but such a description does not really do this profound and multifaceted book justice. Through the eyes of a child, Lee explores the evils of racial prejudice with subtlety and power, gracing her story with an elegance so unspectacular it’s spectacular. More than once, I had to pause and read passages aloud, just for the pleasure of rolling them off my tongue.
“Before I can live with other folks I’ve got to live with myself. The one thing that doesn’t abide by majority rule is a person’s conscience.”

So I’m curious… what are your favorite novels? Leave a comment below and share your choices with the rest of us!

One Year

It’s official: today, September 29th, 2011, is the one year birthday of the Ink Slinger blog. And you know what? Soli Deo Gloria.

I enjoy writing. I enjoy reading. I enjoy sharing about what I write and what I read. This blog has been a superb outlet for that. I am also a Christian, redeemed by grace, and as such, I am commanded “to do all to the glory of God” (1 Cor. 10:31). That includes writing. So I guess you could say my mission is to bring every ink blot captive to the obedience of Christ. And that, I think, is a pretty awesome assignment – certainly cooler than anything James Bond ever got to do.

But there’s more…

In honor of the fact that I have been able to survive (and thrive) in the blogosphere for one whole year, I’m gonna do what every blogger does: I’m gonna host a giveaway. Sure, I won’t get any points for originality, but hey, it’s a tried and true method for celebrating something special, right? So sit back, relax, and listen up.

To participate in the giveaway, all you have to do is leave a comment on this post, sharing the title of the best book you’ve read so far this year; do that, and your name will automatically be entered for the drawing. Simple, right?

Featured in this giveaway are two of the best books I’ve read so far this year, one fiction and one non-fiction: Markus Zusak’s The Book Thief and Kenneth Meyer’s All God’s Children and Blue Suede Shoes. The winner of the giveaway will receive a copy of both of these books. (Shipping to U.S. addresses only)

The giveaway will end at 12:00 P.M. (Mountain Time) of Thursday, October 6th. Then the winner will be announced.

Losers will be rounded up and shot. Just kidding.

Battered by Words

“Death and life are in the power of
the tongue…” (Proverbs 18:21)

The excerpt below is from Markus Zusak’s The Book Thief (pt. 5, pg. 263). It’s of the most searing word pictures I have ever encountered, in that it paints an unforgettable image of the consequences of wanton verbal abuse; of the wounds an uncontrolled tongue can impart.

After a miscarriaged pause, the mayor’s wife edged forward and picked up the book. She was battered and beaten up, and not from smiling this time. Leisel could see it on her face. Blood leaked from her nose and licked at her lips. Her eyes had blackened. Cuts had opened up and a series of wounds were rising to the surface of her skin. All from the words. From Leisel’s words.