A little while ago, I decided to start a little mini-series on the blog. Have y’all noticed the little “recommended for” blurbs at the end of my reviews? I always recommend a few books for people who like the book that I reviewed. I started doing this on my Twitter as well, where I’d name a book title and name a few books to read if you enjoyed that title.
I know a lot of people really love The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak. I have multiple people tell me it marks among their favorites. Between the gutting historical context and the engrossing perspective, and a thousand other things, it just all falls together so well. I read it for the first time this year and it took me a really long time to finish it but I didn’t want to do so. It’s one of those books that affects you. Not necessarily obviously, but it’s one that burrows its way in and tells you you’re a different person now that you know this story. It’s subtle, funny, sad, everything that makes an excellent read.
THE BOOK THIEF by Marcus Zusak
It is 1939. Nazi Germany. The country is holding its breath. Death has never been busier, and will become busier still.
Liesel Meminger is a foster girl living outside of Munich, who scratches out a meager existence for herself by stealing when she encounters something she can’t resist–books. With the help of her accordion-playing foster father, she learns to read and shares her stolen books with her neighbors during bombing raids as well as with the Jewish man hidden in her basement.
In superbly crafted writing that burns with intensity, award-winning author Markus Zusak, author of I Am the Messenger, has given us one of the most enduring stories of our time.
It’s hard to pinpoint exactly what makes The Book Thief so distinct and enthralling but I’m going to try and round up a few reads y’all might like if you loved it.
So here goes:
if you liked the heart-wrenching history and atmospheric details
Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly | Goodreads
It’s been three years since I first read this (it was actually one of the first books I ever reviewed on the blog) but it’s still my number one, unequivocal favorite book. The lyrical writing somehow manages to incorporate little tidbits of history rooted in such elaborate, well-plotted research that I physically have no idea how one person could craft such a book. In addition, complex characters who will break your heart and multiple side-stories weaving through and everything else lead to utter perfection in a book. I don’t use it lightly, but this book has everything that I could possibly ever want in a book and I have serious doubts about how I could ever find another book to take its place. It’s a story that’s affected me deeply.
Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein | Goodreads
This is one that took me a few attempts to get through, simply because I didn’t have the time to read it in one sitting and by the time I’d pick it up again, I forgot some key details. It’s a little slow to get going but the brutality of the circumstances mixed with the hilarious, poignant narration of the main character lead to a stunning read. This book left me sobbing. It took so many turns and the plotting was marvelously put together. I actually had a quiz on WWII the day after I read this book and I completely ignored my notes and read this instead to call it “studying” – not quite sure how well I did on that but the thoughtful details woven into the narrative are fascinating for any history buff. I loved this book and it’s one that tugged at the heartstrings.
if you liked the slow-building intensity with strong foundations of character/plot
The Fifth Wave by Rick Yancey | Goodreads
This book is long, so exhaustively engaging in the best possible way. It’s stressful and well-written, dark with a plot twist around every other corner. The intensity is constantly ratcheted up a notch with an excellent overall arch to it. The characters are strong with a healthy complexity that keeps the story mainly plot-based but with a connection to each. It’s a book that made a splash last year, and for good reason.
When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead | Goodreads
While it’s a middle grade – and wildly different from the subject matter – this book is a “quiet” book, one that excels in the subtlety that makes The Book Thief so distinct and intimate. It’s been a while since I’ve read it but the details are still vivid. The characters mesh together and grow so steadily throughout the book. The plot is smart, snappy, and loops together magnificently at the end. Throughout, the slow pacing keeps it languid, not boring. It’s thoughtful and heartwarming and also a little sad – profound in a way that’s rare to discover.
if you want to take a risk on a book that’s different but with a similar style
The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas | Goodreads
I’m not a huge classics fan although I’d like to be, but this is by far the best book that my class had to read in eighth grade. The pure genius behind it makes it so easy to get over the initial shock of the older language, and the characters are so fascinating. Between the betrayal, intrigue, and overall timbre of the words, it’s a really wonderful book. It’s so clever and solid that I immediately thought of this one when reading The Book Thief, although there are no immediate parallels.
Tiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Anderson | Goodreads
A reason why The Book Thief was so successful was also because Death’s narration still allowed you to connect with the characters and forge these unbreakable bonds of caring about them. In a similar fashion, Tiger Lily is narrated by Tinker Bell but forces you to become so invested in the stories buried within this book. It’s emotional. It takes a well-loved story and turns it upside down, with tragic characters and lovely writing and a story that will stay with you. This is one of my favorite books.
Graceling by Kristen Cashore | Goodreads
In a high-fantasy world gracefully built from the ground up, Graceling takes solid characters and an interesting writing style and creates a long but well-paced masterpiece. If you’re looking for a wonderful series or world to delve into next, this one comes highly recommended for fantasy lovers. It reminded me of The Book Thief because of the protagonists’ similar ways of thinking and the lush details that constantly add to the story.