30-Day Book Challenge Day 1: Best Book I Read Last Year

I saw this Book Challenge on Tumblr and decided to give it a go. I have a hard time narrowing books down to “favorites” and I’m not sure it’s really necessary to do so, but answering these prompts will probably help me think critically about books that I’ve read, and maybe rediscover some from my past. So here goes!

The first prompt: Best book you read last year.

the book thief cover

Image courtesy of press.huc.edu

While I’m not a big fan of absolutes, I can confidently say that the best book I read last year was The Book Thief. I loved it so much that I read it twice within a few months, and I still think about it often. So what did I love about it?

1. The unique narration. The book is narrated by Death, who is funny, grim, comforting, and confusing. He describes feelings as colors, and colors as tastes, but it works marvelously. The writing made me experience feelings of loss and joy in a new way, which I think is one of the main purposes of literature. It makes sense that the book is narrated by Death, as there is a lot of death in the book, but his careful and poetic voice makes him more of a friend than an enemy, and thus the deaths are a bit easier to handle (but only a bit!).

2. The characters. The book follows a family living in Germany during the Holocaust, and it can get pretty heavy, but the characters are so full of life and determination that there is a certain brightness that shines throughout the text. I could picture every character perfectly in my mind, and hear their voices in my ears. The main character, Liesel, is a young girl who is full of strength and street smarts. Her bravery pulls the reader along through the challenging parts of the text, and her love for her family and friends made me love them, too.

3. The themes. While this World War II-era book obviously has lessons of loving your fellow humans and treating them the way you want to be treated, what I loved most about the book was its promotion of literacy. One of Liesel’s main struggles (and joys) throughout the book is learning to read and write, and this struggle ties her to every single character. It even connects her to Hitler, who she had never met. She learns that words can be a powerful tool to influence people, both for better and worse. And she knows she has to choose how she will use her own words.

I can say that this book was an example of its lessons: its words definitely influenced me for the better.

What’s the best book you read last year?

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