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The Reader

A novel by Bernhard Schlink

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Thought provoking and disturbing

  • Mar 5, 1999
This is an interesting book in that it reads as a simple novel of a young man's first sexual experience with an older woman, and yet we all know it is so much more than that. Like all stories relating to the holocaust it is disturbing and I found myself thinking of the story long after I finished reading it. But I also wanted more - I wanted to know more about both of the major characters, and what drove them both. I wanted more of the history, horrifying and disturbing though it is. I wanted to identify with them both because what makes a truly great book is the ability to absorb the reader into the story. It is a very good book, but it just falls short of being a great book.

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More The Reader reviews
Quick Tip by . June 16, 2010
A unique story. I think this was recently made into a movie.
Quick Tip by . June 14, 2010
although i only read half way, i did not understand it and found it really complicated and long in that the events take along time to happen
review by . June 10, 2010
What was your emotional reaction as you read? Why?       Slightly dissapointed by the outcome, Kinda sad, not the ending I expected Who would you recommend this reading to and why?       Yes, you will learn about relationships, and their capabilities especially during waretime stress and recession Consider the setting.       Post-WWII Germany Consider the story/plot.       Love, War, and Law …
review by . June 16, 2009
Having already reviewed the film version of "The Reader" I won't go into much detail about the storyline, other then to say it's pretty much the same basic thing.  This is the book that started it all.  A German book that was translated into English, which was then selected as part of Oprah's Book Club, which then became a best seller, is nothing more then a bit of a snore.  The idea is there but not the execution.  The book is barely more then 200 pages, and the words don't …
review by . June 12, 2009
For those of us who still grapple with the unfathomable question of the extent of man's inhumanity to man - whether that be past and/or present wars, hate crimes, racism, bigotry - this small novel is a stunning experience. Schlink has created at least two unforgetable characters in his tale of the coming of age of Michael Berg with an experienced woman of more years. How he evolves a beautifully honed description of sexual awakening into the nightmare of realization and then leads us to an understanding …
review by . December 19, 2008
Book cover
When Michael was fifteen, he began an affair with a middle-aged woman named Hanna. They shared little beyond the physical relationship; she was not a talker or a thinker as he was, but she did seem to enjoy it when he read to her. One day she disappeared without a word, only to surface years later when she was on trial for crimes against humanity.     The writing style of this book is similar to Albert Camus' The Stranger, where the main character narrates the events of his life …
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Lesley West ()
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Bibliomanic, Beatlemaniac
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About this book


 Oprah Book Club® Selection, February 1999:Originally published in Switzerland, and gracefully translated into English by Carol Brown Janeway,The Readeris a brief tale about sex, love, reading, and shame in postwar Germany. Michael Berg is 15 when he begins a long, obsessive affair with Hanna, an enigmatic older woman. He never learns very much about her, and when she disappears one day, he expects never to see her again. But, to his horror, he does. Hanna is a defendant in a trial related to Germany's Nazi past, and it soon becomes clear that she is guilty of an unspeakable crime. As Michael follows the trial, he struggles with an overwhelming question: What should his generation do with its knowledge of the Holocaust? "We should not believe we can comprehend the incomprehensible, we may not compare the incomparable.... Should we only fall silent in revulsion, shame, and guilt? To what purpose?"

The Reader, which won the Boston Book Review's Fisk Fiction Prize, wrestles with many more demons in its few, remarkably lucid pages. What does it mean to love those people--parents, grandparents, even lovers--who committed the worst atrocities the world has ever known? And is any atonement possible through literature? Schlink's prose is clean and pared down, stripped of unnecessary imagery, dialogue, and excess in any form. What remains is an austerely beautiful narrative of the attempt to breach the gap between Germany's pre- and postwar ...

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ISBN-10: 0375707972
ISBN-13: 978-0375707971
Author: Bernhard Schlink
Publisher: Vintage Books

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