Book Reviews of The Reader

The Reader
ISBN-13: 9780679781301
ISBN-10: 0679781307
Publication Date: 1998
Pages: 218
Rating:
  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.
 86

3.5 stars, based on 86 ratings
Publisher: Random House Inc
Book Type: Paperback
Reviews: Amazon | Write a Review

220 Book Reviews submitted by our Members...sorted by voted most helpful

reviewed The Reader on + 4 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 16
I just finished this book, and thoroughly enjoyed it. It is about a 15 year old boy who had an affair with a woman in her mid-30's. Later, years after the affair ended, he runs across her again while he is a law student. He is observing a trial for which she is the defendant charged with Nazi war crimes. The book brings up a lot of ethical questions - not just about the affair, but about the crimes for which she is accused. It would be a great book club read. Wish I had read it that way, as I'd love to have someone to discuss it with. I think it would be a good book to read in tandem with Lolita for a book club and then discuss the comparisons of the affiar the boy has with the woman and the obsession Humbert has with Lolita. The ending was a surprise to me!
reviewed The Reader on + 133 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 11
Couldn't put this one down. Read it in one day. I was totally thrown for what she was in court for, and what her secrete was, though I did figure it out before it was written in the book. Great read, but definately a sad tale.
reviewed The Reader on + 2 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 9
Shocking relationship, shocking turn of events. Very captivating. Simple and compelling. Makes one think. Recommend if you can deal with descriptions of intimacy.
reviewed The Reader on + 82 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 8
A quick read that was very well written. You develop a relationship with the charecters. It starts off with some fairly blatent erotic parts, but develops into a fully story. I'd recommend it.
reviewed The Reader on + 2 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 8
I LOVED this book, couldn't put it down. One of the best books I have read in a long, long time. A short read, but very fulfilling. The writing is excellent and so insightful. This book reminded me that there is always more than one way to look at a situation and that things are not always what they seem (don't be quick to judge). I thought about the book long after I finished reading it.
reviewed The Reader on + 3 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 5
I thought that this book was awful. It was written in a way to keep you reading, making it a quick read, but I was just so bored with the whole thing. The "big twist" is so predictable, I knew it within the first two chapters. I read the whole thing through just hoping that there was some other twist. A waste of time. I hated it. Don't believe the hype. But then again, that's just my opinion.
reviewed The Reader on + 11 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 5
Well written, and thus, translated, story told from the narrator's memories. Many ties to classical literature and philosophy. I was at once enjoying the unraveling mystery and trying to make sense of ideas of right & wrong.
reviewed The Reader on + 20 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 4
From the very beginning of this book, I could tell that I wasn't going to like it. For me, there was no hooking point, that would draw me into the book, and keep my nose there until it was done. It was a simple book that should have only taken me days to read, but I found myself forcing myself to keep reading, just because I never like to leave a book I've started reading unfinished. I guess it could have been a good story, but the way in which it was written just wasn't right for me. The author asked too many questions, that were left unanswered. And I was left sitting there wondering what the answers could have been. I really wouldn't have minded a little more detail in the story.
reviewed The Reader on
Helpful Score: 3
Wanted to read this book from the time I heard about it but unfortunately I had to force myself to finish it. I can't place my finger on why it didn't sit right with me. This is a book that you either love it our hate it.
reviewed The Reader on + 84 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 3
Michael Berg is a 15 year old German boy, who falls ill from hepatitis and literally collapses in front of Hanna Schmitz, a woman in her early 30s who tends to him and sends him home. Later she becomes his lover, and then she vanishes. Years later when he sees her next, Michael is a law student and she is on trial for war crimes.

The Reader is an amazing work on so many levels - romantic, historic, psychological, philosophical, morality, even criminal justice, to name a few. The day I started reading this my aunt Harriet sent me an article she wrote about my Jewish great-grandmother having escaped Germany for America prior to the Holocaust, and about her family who perished in the camps. Harriet had an exchange student "sister" from Germany in highschool, and combined a visit to Grandma Sophie's birth home in 1975 with a reunion with her homestay sister. The two had a heated discussion about Harriet wanting to visit the concentration camps in Dachau, "Ika begged her not to go (her generation had not caused World War II and didn't want to be blamed for or even reminded of it)."

For me, this book really gives the Holocaust scale. I can clearly see how subsequent generations have been affected. And as an illustration as to how power of the written word can affect someone! I'm so glad I read this before seeing the movie, loved this book, love that it's written by a German judge.
reviewed The Reader on + 35 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 3
One of my favorite things to do is read a book and then watch the movie version of it. This time around, I actually didn't know it was a book until after I had seen the movie. Well, this is the very first time that I can actually say I thought the movie was better than the book. I thought the movie was so powerful and passionate. There was an intensity to the movie that I just didn't get from the book. Maybe I would feel differently if I had read it first.

But, it was a great story. Even though the main character was a 15 year old boy (and towards the end, much older), I felt like I could relate to him, and I was really drawn into his experiences. I thought the story was an original concept, and as always, I love anything related to WW2.
reviewed The Reader on + 468 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 3
This book sat on my bookshelf for years until I saw the trailer for the movie and it piqued my interest. It is a spare book which takes place in post-war Germany and is about love, sex, reading, loss and shame and gives the reader much to think about - the Holocaust, the sexual relationship between a very young boy and a woman, how much we reveal to others in relationships, and the shame and guilt of post-war Germany. But it's not a book that begs keeping and re-reading. I will likely see the movie to watch Kate Winslet bring Hanna to life on the screen.
reviewed The Reader on + 34 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 3
I read this book because I am a big Kate Winslet fan and wanted to read the novel for the new movie she is in. I can see how this book is going to translate well to film. Mostly because this book does not give a lot of descriptions to things that are going on save for a few elemental things that the narrator held on to from his youth so when it's translated to film you don't loose a lot of that details that books tend to loose. I found it a very easy read but it didn't captivate me like I hoped it would.
reviewed The Reader on
Helpful Score: 3
Excellent read that challenges on so many levels. Pretty true to the blockbuster hit movie, but provides insight into character's thoughts and emotional states that are hard to dramatize on film.
reviewed The Reader on + 32 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 3
This book was very odd. I only finished it because it was short and I wanted to know how it ended. The author kept asking questions over and over, it got so annoying I wanted to say "I dont know!! You are supposed to tell me that!!" If you cut the questions out, the book would have been 2/3 shorter.
reviewed The Reader on
Helpful Score: 3
Sick, sick book. I couldn't get past the first few chapters. An adult woman seduces an adolescent boy. If this book were about an adult man seducing an adolescent girl, no one would have read it. Everyone would agree the guy should be in prison. But since it's the other way around suddenly its a becoming of age story. Made me want to barf.
reviewed The Reader on + 175 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
The Reader
by Bernhard Schlink and Carol Brown Janeway

The editorial reviews about this book do a great disservice to the novel. (Sometimes I wonder if the reviewers actually read the book.
I don't consider this in any way a YA novel -- the themes are way too adult and the introspection and examination of conscience of the adult writer aren't reflective of that young adult point of view.)

That said, this is a fantastic novel. I was glued to the pages, examining my own reactions to what was happening and trying to summon the outrage one should feel when a 15 year old boy is having a sexual affair with a 30 something woman. He should be viewed as a victim. I couldn't summon that assessment.

This is a beautiful and haunting story of a 15 year old boy named Michael, whom she called "Kid", who has an intense love affair with a 30 something woman named Hanna -- a streetcar conductor. He knows nothing of her past, and their relationship is mostly physical. She disappears suddenly once day and Michael next sees her when he's a law student in 1965 Germany as the war trials of the Nazi criminals are getting underway.

He is both stunned and repulsed when seeing his former paramour as an SS guard criminal. He can't reconcile his love of her to what she had done during the war. Michael is in a state of suspended ambiguity. Should he feel guilty for having loved her -- a reviled and heinous war criminal with the worst of reputations? A quote at the end of Chapter one in Part 2 sums up how Michael faces the truth of his lover and how he responds to it: "I adopted a posture of arrogant superiority...this juxtaposition of callousness and extreme sensitivity seemed suspicious even to me."

The book is divided into 3 parts and deals mostly with Micheal's feelings about his relationship with Hanna, his reaction to her trial, and the final chapter as he comes to terms with all that has happened.
This is a novel that is not to be missed. One that can be discussed at length in book groups everywhere or just between friends. I can't get it out of my mind.

The reason for the title becomes clear midway through the novel.

Highly recommended.
reviewed The Reader on
Helpful Score: 2
Wonderful and sensitive book - post WWII. A love story or abuse? The story was disturbing but so thought-provoking and so beautifully written - really a must read. Another classic..
reviewed The Reader on + 5426 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
A quick read, relatively simple book.
reviewed The Reader on + 13 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
Does a lack of education justify immorality? This thought inspiring novel left me with my first concept of the WWII aftermath for the Nazi's themselves. The victims of the horror may well have included the offspring of the Nazi terrorists. Who were these people who inflicted horrific acts and what became of them? Clearly this novel does not answer these questions, but more correctly . .inspires them. Thought provoking at it's finest.
reviewed The Reader on + 111 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
I felt mainly luke-warm about this book as I was reading it. Compelling to read, but really not quite sure what I thought of it. I was surprised at just how much the ending moved me. Overall, a powerful story that conveys the devastation of a secret relationship, secrets between lovers, and the damage that a relationship between an older adult with a teenager can wreak. A difficult but powerful book. For all of the luke-warm feelings I had while reading it, I am so glad I stuck through to the end.
reviewed The Reader on + 4 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
I was very anxious to read this book before seeing the movie. Both have such wonderful reviews. I must say, I could not put it down once I got started. The prose is very well written. Schlink has a beautiful turn of phrase. However, I must say I didn't connect to either of the main character. I suspect that is not uncommon for the female lead, Hannah, but I wanted to like the young male character. I just couldn't bring myself to. But to have a great read despite that? Impressive.
reviewed The Reader on + 11 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
Good book? Sure...worthy of the unbelievable level of praise? I'm not sure. I didn't think the "surprise" of the book was a surprise at all, as it seemed obvious to me about 1/2 way through. Interesting and worth reading but not a MUST read.
reviewed The Reader on
Helpful Score: 1
twisted and shocking read- can'y wait to rent the movie
reviewed The Reader on + 157 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
I thought this book was all right. The "big secret" wasn't a surprise to me at all, it was obvious near the beginning of the book. The ending was predictable as well. Not that I disliked the book, I did like it. It was just a much more easy fast read than I was expecting. But hey, we all need an easy fast read sometime, don't we?
reviewed The Reader on + 7 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
Excellent book, makes you really think about the human mind and soul, read it in one day, would highly recommend it.
reviewed The Reader on + 10 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
I found this book so easy to get through and it was a little distrubing in some aspects . I got through it in a few days and I did like it and did not expect the ending it had . I did like it .
reviewed The Reader on
Helpful Score: 1
I enjoyed the movie and decided to pick up the book. A short read but a thoughtful, intense one. I loved the description and the psychological exploration of the narrator's adolescence. Highly recommended!
reviewed The Reader on + 5 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
I Was very eager to read this book and ended up beng slightly disappointed. I thought that the story was fascinating, but found the writing to be too simple for the content and I didn't feel the emotion that the protagonist was trying to display. I guess I prefer more descriptive writing. Maybe it just didn't come through in the translation.
reviewed The Reader on + 4 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
I read this book a while back and just reviewed it before watching the new Movie with Kate Winslet. It was a very thought provoking story. I found myself thinking about it for several days afterwards.
reviewed The Reader on + 12 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
A rather erotic tale of a 15-year-old German school boy who has an affair with a woman old enough to be his mother. It's full of love and secrets mixed with horror and compassion. Set in postwar Germany.
reviewed The Reader on + 35 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
Great book. A little differant then the movie, but didn't stray very far. It is a quick read, I guess that is what made it such an excellent movie. Really good book.
reviewed The Reader on + 4 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
About a young man who has an affair with a woman in her mid-thirties. The tale intertwines his adult life with memories of their affair. You really become attached to the characters. I couldn't put it down; read it in 2 days.
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Helpful Score: 1
Terrific. Just terrific!
reviewed The Reader on
Helpful Score: 1
As I read this book I wondered where it was going...but the ending pulled it all together and I felt sorry for the guy!
reviewed The Reader on + 28 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
I loved this book - short, different, moral challenge
reviewed The Reader on + 2 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
Pretty heavy topics but very good, a lot of moral searching went on for me when I read this.
reviewed The Reader on + 6 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
This was an amazing book. Haunting and taboo, beautiful and hideous. Te movie does it no justice, but whats new?
reviewed The Reader on + 19 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
I really enjoyed this book. It was rather short and a quick read, I finished it in only a day and a half. I liked the parts between Hanna and Michael. Early on I guessed at Hanna's secret from several hints the author provided. I was surprised by the ending though. I would recommend this book. I now want to see the movie version although the book is almost always better.
reviewed The Reader on
Helpful Score: 1
Amazing book, it sucked me in right away. Had it not been for the fact that Oprah did an episode on the new movie I probably wouldn't have read this book. Boy, am I glad I did! Definitely worth the read.
reviewed The Reader on + 636 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
This was a very interesting book. I saw the movie first and I had hoped that there would be more to the characters in the book. I admit that I was almost a little disappointed at how good of an adaptation the movie was from the book. There were no surprises in the book, and it was a very fast read. The book was very interesting, but something was lacking from both the film and the book - a better sense of the characters, details... just that certain something...
reviewed The Reader on + 9 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
An intriguing story that makes you want to keep reading. It also had a clever ending, which is always important to me.
reviewed The Reader on + 31 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
Ugh.

Not my thing. Very boring read. Could not get into this. The description sounds so exciting, but the actual reading is not like that.

Could not finish this book to see if the ending was worth it. Just moved on.

And they made this into a movie? I hated it so much, I don't even care to watch the movie.
reviewed The Reader on + 22 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
This book had such a hold on me that I finished it in one day. The author captured my heart and made me feel empathy for Hanna despite the fact of her henious crimes. I, also, felt angry that she carried a secret that killed innocent people. I cannot wait to see the movie and how Kate Winslet brings to life this wonderful literary character and how the director brought to life this now beloved book.
reviewed The Reader on + 7 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
I can't say more than it was one of the best books I've read.
reviewed The Reader on + 7 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
I really, really enjoyed this book. There are so many layers to the characters and it portrayed the issues very realistically. I have a very close German friend and the main character and his battle in dealing with Germany's history are very true to today's German middle-aged population (at least from my experiences). I have read the other reviews and I can see how this book can be taken either way. If you are interested and know about the effects of World War II on current German culture, you will probably get a lot out of this book. If you don't, there are still so many layers to the characters that I think you can still enjoy it. It is definitely a very deep and serious book, though, so if you are looking for a light and happy read, this is not it.
reviewed The Reader on + 77 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
This book is one from Oprah's Book Club. It took me awhile to get into it, but once I did, I enjoyed reading it. It's mostly about a boy growing up and learning about love and relationships. After his love affair ends, he discovers that the woman he loves is on trial for being a guard at one of the Germanany's concentration camps.
reviewed The Reader on + 29 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
Engrossing. Compelling. Can a Nazi war criminal be sympathetic? In the postmodern world is there any morality - any right or wrong? This postmodern novel addresses victim and perpetrator in a psychological novel of seduction. Michael Berg is a 15 year-old German student when he falls in love with 36 year-old Hanna Schmitz. Their relationship is tender, and haunting. I found this novel a juxtaposition of victim/perpetrator, love/hate and a Germany struggling to deal with the second generation and survivors of the Holocaust.
reviewed The Reader on + 289 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
Sometimes it is risking disappointment to re-engage an enjoyable work in another medium. No so for The Reader. Reading the book was equally pleasurable but with a different feel. Michael Berg narrates a retrospective bildungsroman which can stand for the entire German second generation. Michael was helped by a much older Hanna Schmitz when he fell ill at age 15; his visit to thank her led to a secret affair which ends when she suddenly leaves. Years later as a law student he encounters her again when she is on trial for her role in the war. Both characters are strongly portrayed, flawed people; the story is decidedly Michael's in the book version. Without the visual details, the simple, elegant prose more easily invites serious reflection on moral questions of love, betrayal, guilt, responsibility, and shame. It also made me think about who fits the title role, and the active vs. passive nature of reading. I'd recommend this novel to someone looking for a poignant, mind-engaging read.
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Helpful Score: 1
Serious but easy read. Compelling and hard to put down. Makes you think!
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Helpful Score: 1
Great story, I loved it in fact. I felt the author could be a little long winded and I felt a little unfulfilled when all was said and done. I really wish that Michael had moved on from Hanna, I wish that he had written her in the end, but I guess not every story has a perfect ending. The big "secret" wasn't so hard to figure out, but again over all it was a good book, and I found it to be quite educational.
reviewed The Reader on + 2 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
Interesting account of how a boy becomes a man through a relationship with a much older woman.
reviewed The Reader on + 28 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
the book was very down to earth and factual. Plot was very interesting.
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Helpful Score: 1
Overall, this was a powerful and interesting book to read but I found it difficult to get through and slow at times.
reviewed The Reader on + 58 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
I didn't know what to expect when I started this book and was about to put it away when I skipped back a few pages and found out what was to come. I couldn't put it down after that. It was difficult to have sympathy for or understand the characters at times but it was so simply written with a directness that was powerful.
reviewed The Reader on
Helpful Score: 1
This book was great. It combined the passion and love or lust between two people and what war does to people. It was interesting to me how Hanna, in her guilt over what happened, allowed most of the blame to fall on her in the trial, unwilling to hide anything and willing to take the blame. There was a time when she took the blame for writing a falsified report, even though she couldnt because she was illiterate, because she blamed herself so much that she wanted to be severly punished. While the true main perpetrators got small prison sentences, she got life, but in the end, she succeded and used her experiences bless others lives.
reviewed The Reader on + 16 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
Oprah's book club choice..did not think I would like this book, but once I picked it up, couldn't put it down...the story starts with a 15 year old boy and goes into adulthood....good...
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Helpful Score: 1
I didn't know quite to make of this story at first. Older women, really young "kid" just didn't seem like something I'd want to read. But as the story progressed I became fascinated with both characters and wanted very much to find out what was going to happen. This is not a love story that one expects but it is a love story nonetheless--and a beautiful one at that. I haven't seen the movie and I'm not sure now that I want to; I think whatever was put on film would ruin it for me. I'll put it back up for swap but I'll hate to see it go.
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Helpful Score: 1
"a formally beautiful, disturbing and finally morally devastating novel" is the review by the Los Angeles Times and I couldn't have said it better myself. I promise you'll want to discuss this book with others when you've finished reading it. Simply haunting.
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Amazing book for me. I read this book many years ago and felt so saddened by the tragedy of circumstances and situations all through this book. I haven't seen the movie yet, but I doubt it can be as good as the book.
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The book was a very quick read. The chapters are very short, and the story captures the reader's interest right away. The story is set in Post Nazi Germany which was very interesting. The characters are distinct and you find yourself wondering what you would do if you were in a similar situation.
reviewed The Reader on
Could not put this one down! Read it on one day. Easy to read. Interesting moral issues. Very good book.
reviewed The Reader on
It was a very good book, a little disturbing but towards the end very rivoting..
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Good story, but sad ending. Got kinda lost during the trial, but it was worth sticking with.
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A book about the things we are capable of, the things we hide, and the consequences of both. Easily read in a day or two and yet a very deep book.
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I really enjoyed this book, but definatly not one of my favorites. It does not take very long to read and I thought is was very intersting. It ended on a bittersweet note. Overall I would reccomend this book to read.
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This was a good book, but not as good as I expected. It did not keep me spellbound, and at times seemed slow.
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Great book -- very compelling.
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Boring, maybe the movie will be better.
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Good book and a very interesting subject.
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Loved it but it left some to the imagination, and I need to go a see the movie now to fill in the gaps hopefully!
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I tried to read this book more than once. I just can't do it. It's very boring. The movie may be great but the book is not.
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One of the best books I have ever read.
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I thought this was great. Very thought provoking.
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Startling in both the moral implications and courtroom drama. I couldnt put it down; it was that good. A good book club read !!!
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I read the first 59 pages of this book, put down and walked away, rather disappointed. The next day, I turned to page 60 and fell deep into a touching story. I didn't exactly enjoy it, but it resonated with me and I deeply respect it. Definitely worth the read, even if just for the questions about right an wrong that the author asks.
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If you are looking for a great book club selection, this is it. "The Reader" provided a rollicking discussion for everyone in our book club. It was wonderful to hear what others thought about the characters and what they thought motivated the characters' actions. This book is a quick read which is another plus for busy book club members; no one need show up having not read the book. :-)
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Again, just wanted to read the book before I watched the movie. I liked the idea of the story, but honestly thought it was a tough read. I had to force myself to finish it.
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Author is Bernhard Schlink. This is one from Oprah's Book Club!
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Very interesting book. It was very different from anything that I have ever read. It really makes you think about things and how you feel about what happens in the book. Is it right, or is it wrong?
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interesting story
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Hailed for its coiled eroticism and the moral claims it makes upon the reader, this mesmerizing novel is a story of love and secrets, horror and compassion, unfolding against the haunted landscape of postwar Germany.

When he falls ill on his way home from school, fifteen-year-old Michael Berg is rescued by Hanna, a woman twice his age. In time she becomes his lover. She enthralls him with her passion, but puzzles him with her odd silences. Then she inexplicably disappears.

When Michael next sees her, he is a young law student and Hanna is on trial for a hideous crime. But as he watches her refuse to defend herself, Michael gradually realizes that his former lover may be gaurding a secret she considers more shameful than murder.
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Awesome book!
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This book was very good from front to back- an enormously powerful novel about guilt,justice,betrayal, and shame.
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I wanted to read this book before watching the movie. I guess my expectations were too high, I did not even finish it. I lost interest in the characters.
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Finally, a book that lived up to the hype. Story so vivid, I wondered if were factual. Erotic in places, sad in others, always insightful. Definitely recommend
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This was such a good read. I recommend it to anyone, whether they take interest in Holocaust related lit or not.
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Easy read, excellent story line. For mature audiences.
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A 'coming of age' story of a boy in post-war Germany. Never finished it.
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a wondeful book, a quick read and i found it to be very interesting..
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I have seen this book listed in a new book entitled "100 books to read before you die". Personally, I didn't care for it but supposedly it is a national bestseller and an "Oprah book".
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Story of a lover affair between a young man and an older woman in postwar Germany. Very different.
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Simply Amazing. I loved every page of this book and I could not put it down. It is such a captivating story that you wouldn't expect to be so intresting, but it is. A definite read. 5 Stars : )
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I read it just to see what all the hoopla was about. I'm still not sure. Highly disturbing plot.
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The holocaust is one of the most interesting and terrifying events in history. However, this book is more of a romance than a fictional historical account. Although this is not necessarily a bad thing, it is not really the type of book I am interested in. I will say, the book is much more interesting than the movie.
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This book was beautifully written and, even though a sad story, I found it very easy to read.
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This book is a page turner and quick read. I found the story secondary to the moral dilemma Michael struggled with in regard to his feelings for Hannah, her crimes, his communication with her in prison, his lack of communication with her in prison...such an interesting story to look at many different ways.
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I thought this was an ok book. It was a quick read (I read it in one sitting) but at the same time it was a little boring and mundane. It is a "small" story--not many characters to keep track of, not much action going on, etc. I am glad that I read it though and I am looking forward to seeing the movie--I bet Kate Winslet did a wonderful job playing Hanna.
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Easy and fast read and the author describes a lot of the situations in detail but it makes you understand the emotion between the characters.
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A small story told in vivid detail - which becomes a little larger as time goes on. Engaging, heartfelt. One of the best books I've read this year.
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I read this book in less than 24 hours. It was a great story that really pulled you in. A must read! ! !
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I enjoyed the book completly. The story held my interest all the way through. I would recommend it highly.A certain sadness to it...
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Interesting, provacative and philosophically intruiging book.
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This was a thoroughly riveting book from beginning to end. This seemingly simple story about the relationship between a 15 year old boy and his 30-something lover raises numerous ethical questions and is sad and heart-wrenching.
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Very interesting subject and story. I enjoyed the mystery very much.
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This is a classic book that is part of "Oprah's Book Club." I gave it three stars because I do see some merit in the book. It has been translated from the original German text. It is well written yet the plot seems vague and loosely formed. The style of the author somewhat reminds me of the style of The Virgin Suicides. I know that this book is being turned into a movie, probably thanks to Oprah. The author gives the reader some play in how we will interpret the book. The style is different that what I'm used to but I definitely see the merit of The Reader.
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Great read!!!!
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This novel, along with the film version that earned actress Kate Winslet her first Oscar, is a devastating read that asks important questions about humanity, love, and moral responsibility, set against the viscious backdrop of Holocaust-era Germany. The characters in this book are written truthfully, and the horrors of the plot are revealed gently but disturbingly, and by the end of the novel the reader finds him or herself at a moral and ethical crossroads with no direction as to where to go from there. A lyrically-written peice of prose with timeless truths and deeply dramatic character archs, "The Reader" is a story not to be missed!
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Fantastic Book! Always one of my favorites.
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I really liked the writing style. The day to day life and worries were examined well, I just didn't like the subject matter I guess. It is beautifully written with a wonderful flow. Characters not as clear as I would have liked.
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A wonderful read!
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Once I started reading it, I couldn't put it down. One of the best books I have read recently. It really gives you something to think about. Obviously there are some moral issues (a young boy in an secret reationship with a woman twice his age, plus another moral/legal issue in the second half of the book). It makes you question your own standing and consider a fine line of wrong and right or whether theres a grey area there.
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Troubling, esp. if you're a mother of boys. Very well written and interesting, if not disturbing.
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One day fifteen year old Michael is on his way home from school when he becomes violently ill. A 36 year old woman named Hanna spots his distress, cleans him up and walks him home. Michael lands in bed with hepatitis for several weeks and when he recovers his mom asks him to personally thank Hannah for her kindness. And boy does she ever . . .

The two become bed-mates for a time and she enjoys listening to Michael read to her. Michael fancies himself a little in love with Hanna despite her odd, aloof behavior. He also struggles with keeping the affair a secret and behaving like a normal teenager. The affair comes to an end when Hanna spots Michael swimming with friends and doesn't acknowledge her. Hanna then disappears.

Years later Michael is a law student sitting in a courtroom and learns that Hanna is on trial for murder and that she spent time as a concentration camp guard for the Nazi's. As the trial continues Michael realizes he knows a secret that can significantly reduce her sentence. But it's a secret that Hanna has kept to herself entire life and he's unsure if he should speak out when she refuses to defend herself.

This is a story with some heavy moral dilemma's but it's ultimately a story of regret of wasted lives. It's a quick read but not one, I think, I will easily forget.
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This book was boring to me. I kept waiting to see where it went and it never went anywhere good.
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From Oprah's Book Club.
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This is a parable, addressing the challenges post-war German generations have had understanding the Holocaust. The Reader examines how the post-war generations should approach those who participated in or witnessed the atrocities.
A tale of 15-year-old Michael Berg, who has an affair with Hanna, a woman more than twice his age. She disappears one day, and he anticipates he will never see her again. However, after many years, their paths cross again at a trial where she is accused of a Nazi crime. Michael must then struggle with the implications of their relationship and what, if anything, he may owe Hanna.
A story of story of love, betrayal, war, and reading aloud.
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Good reading.
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Loved it!! Book is in three parts. Picks up in the Second with unexpected twists and turns. Won't disappoint.
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Enthralling and engaging, I read it from cover to cover on a transatlantic flight, and I was sorry when it was over.
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this is a wonderful love story of forbidden set in Germany.read it, you will be glad you did
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ONE OF OPRAH'S FIRST BOOKS!!!
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A sadly touching story,it made me think about myself and the roles we all choose to play. A quick read!
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When he falls ill on his way home from school, fifteen year old Michael Berg is rescued by Hanna, a woman twice his age. In time she becomes his lover. She enthralls him with her passion, but puzzles him with her odd silences. Then she inexplicably disappears.
When Michael next sees her, he is a young law student and Hanna is on trial for a hideous crime. But as he watches her refuse to defend herself, Michael gradually realizes that his former lover may be guarding a secret she considers more shameful than murder.
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A somber, thought provoking story of love, betrayal, horror and compassion, set in postwar Germany.
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Some what slow, yet very enjoyable. Would read again.
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Once you pick up this book you will be hard pressed to put it down. It is a very easy book to read and the author really takes you into the minds of his two main characters.
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An interesting book...I would definitely read again!
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I really enjoyed this book for its questions about morality coupled with eroticism. It is an intelligent book, and the characters are unusual and passionate. Even mystery is addressed in this novel, a guarded secret even more shameful than murder, in one of the characters' eyes. A very good read.
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Great Book. Better than I thought from reading the back of the book.
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Wow, a powerfully compelling novel about relationships and moral judgements. A very quick read that stays with you for quite sometime.
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A story of love and secrets, horror and compassion, unfolding against the haunted landscape of postware Germany. A May/December (male/female) romance unfolds
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Unusual and thought provoking. From the back cover "When he falls illon his way home from school, fifteen-year-old Michael Berg is rescued by Hanna, a woman twice his age. In time she becomes his lover. She enthralls him with her passion, but puzzles him with her odd silences. Then she inexplicably disappears." The subsequent meeting years later reveals " . . . a secret she considers more shameful than murder."
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A haunting story. I really enjoyed this book.
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This book is really not my taste
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this was a good read, took me a little while to get through it but i was shockingly surprised at the end!
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** International Best Seller
** Oprah's Book Club
** New York Times Notable Book of the Year
** Los Angeles Times Book of the Year
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The book was somewhat interesting in certain points of the story. There wasn't enough of Hanna's character. Hanna seemed interesting, but the author did not bring her out more. The story seemed lacking, it did not draw me in. There were too many details of Michael's mundane experiences. The mystery of Hanna, her demeanor, stature, and her view of the world was more interesting.
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I liked this book, I did see the movie.(movie was more erotic than the book.) It was very original and a bit strange, but good. This is the story of a love affair that a fifteen year old boy has with a woman. The woman then disappears. Later in life he sees her again, this time she is on trial for a crime. This was a good story, there were some slow parts but it was entertaining and a good read. It was unique and like nothing I have read before which I liked that about this book. About coming of age, sex, love, and holocaust.
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Surprisingly a very good book. I had seen the film before hand so I knew the outcome but even still the author had me turning the pages to finish. It was that good!
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A good read.
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I enjoyed this book a lot. It was different from anything I have ever read, but it was an awesome book.
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"When young Michael Berg falls ill on his way home fro school, he is rescued by Hanna, a woman twice his age. In time she becomes his lover, entralling him with her passion, but puzzling him with her odd silences. Then she disappears. Michael next sees Hanna when she is on trial for a hideous crime, refusing to defend herself. As he watches, he begins to realize that Hanna may be guarding a secret she considers more shamful than murder."
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I did not enjoy the book as much as I thought I would. I thought the story would be more dramatic.
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I saw the movie first (which I loved). The book filled in so many questions. Wonderful story--wonderful writing!
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"A novel of emotional awakening that you'll never forget."
I found this a very interesting book, A small view of post war Germany from the generation conceived and born during WWII. I found this a compelling story. There is a question.. "what would you do?" I felt that was a serious question I had to ask myself throughout the book.
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I hope the movie is half as good as the book. Read it before you go see the movie.
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Beautifully written, wish it was longer.
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I read this book over a few days (it was easy to put down) and while I enjoyed it, I felt guilty that I didn't enjoy it more, as it's clearly a really good book. Perhaps it just wasn't to my tastes. It's definitely unlike anything I have ever read before, but I didn't find myself getting invested in the characters or particularly caring about them. Again, perhaps it's just me. To summarize - a 15-year old German boy finds himself seduced by an older woman, and carries on an affair with her. The affair ends when she mysteriously disappears, and the boy (as an adult) attends the trial which may hold the key to why she disappeared. Meanwhile, he has a secret that could set her free, but will he share it? I can see why lots of people enjoyed this book, but I thought it was just okay.
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I was surprised by the fact that I really was drawn into this book. I was not aware of the fact that the book was written in German and translated into English. It gives a look at post war Germany. I did not see the movie and and not sure I really want a movie to change the images I have. Sometimes, the movie is a disappointment, after reading the book.
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I thought this book was okay...not great. I haven't seen the movie, maybe I will now since I finished the book. I wanted to read it first due to all the great reviews I read about it. But I was disappointed, it wasn't that great a read as I hoped. I felt that the story kind of dragged towards the end, and left me somewhat confused.

I wish the writer could have explained more about Hanna and her feelings about being a Nazi guard. It is an interesting story, but I felt it was lacking in substance.
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I heard so many good things about this book has been given a lot of positive reviews. However, I just did not like the book. I found it to be dull and not a "page turner" at all. I think it lacks substance and it did not hold my attention. I did finish the book, as it is not very long, but I was disappointed overall.
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Walking home from school one day, fifteen-year-old Michael Berg becomes seriously ill. He is rescued by Hanna Schmitz, a woman twice his age. Hanna, a bus conductor, tends to Michael and then takes him back to his home. Over time, Michael and Hanna form a relationship, and she becomes his lover - then she inexplicably disappears from Michael's life.

When Michael next sees Hanna, he is a young law student, sitting in on a trial in which Hanna is a defendant. She is accused of a hideous crime, but inexplicably refuses to defend herself. As he watches her refuse to defend her innocence, Michael is at first perplexed by her actions. However, as the trial continues, he gradually realizes that Hanna may be guarding a secret which she considers more shameful than murder.

I absolutely loved this book. I was drawn into the plot very quickly; and by about two pages in, I was completely engrossed in the story. This was a translation from the original German, but it was a very well-written, understandable, and easy read for me. In my opinion, the story flowed along easily and I avidly wanted to know what happened next.

This was an unusual book to begin with - and while I haven't seen the 2008 movie adaption starring Kate Winslett and Ralph Fiennes - I enjoyed the book very much. I give this book an A+!
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The book is a lot like the movie...though there were a lot of little details I did not get in the movie that I got from the book. The movie left me with a lot of unanswered questions....why didn't he do anything to get her out of jail? Why didn't she want people to know her disability? The movie left me with so many questions and reading this book after watching the movie helped to answer those for me. Hope you will enjoy it as much as I did!
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This novel is so entirely moving. It haunts you until the very last page. You will not be able to put this done- it is THAT amazing! Beautifully written as well.
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I thought the beginning was a little slow, but then it got pretty good.
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This is a former Oprah's Book Club selection. Good novel. Worth the read.
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While the idea of the book was excellent, I found it a bit difficult to get interested. I wasn't drawn to any of the main characters and had to force myself to pick it up at times to read it. It wasn't horrible, but it wasn't the best.
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Unbelieveable! You will be pulled into this book from the first few pages. The dynamic of history, passion and mystery makes this book amazing. I couldn't put it down. If you enjoy Oprah books, this is one of the best.
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a beautiful, disturbing but romantic book.
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An Oprah Book Club book and a New York Times Notable Book Of The Year. A story of love and secrets, horror and compassion, enfolding against the haunted landscape of postwar Germany. When he falls ill on his way home from school, fifteen year old Michael Berg is rescued by Hanna, a woman twice his age. In time she becomes his lover. Then she disappears. Michael meets up with her later when he is a lawyer and Hanna is on trial for a hideous murder.
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Very good book- got me interested in the history of the time of the book.
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The Reader is both a literary surprise and a moral challenge: a riveting, provocative, and deeply moving novel about a young boy's erotic awakening in a passionate, clandestine love affair with an older woman, and what happens to them both when the secrets in her past are revealed. Fifteen-year-old Michael Berg becomes ill on the way home from school. A woman takes care of him. Later, the boy arrives at her home with a bunch of flowers to thank her. And then comes back again. Hanna is the first woman he has ever desired. But there is something slightly off-key about her. His questions about her family and her life go unanswered. One day Hanna simply disappears. Michael's life goes on, but he can't forget her. Years later, as a law student observing a trial in Germany, Michael is shocked to realize that the person in the dock is Hanna. The woman he had loved so passionately is a criminal. Much about her behavior during the trial makes no sense. But then, suddenly and terribly, it does Hanna is not only obliged to answer for a horrible crime, she is also desperately concealing an even deeper secret. As the past erupts into the present both Michael's past with Hanna, and the past of Germany itself Michael must accept that he will never be free of either of them.
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A very moving read. A young man recollects his past and how it shapes who he is. "Michael falls ill on his way home from school" Hanna is twice his age but becomes his lover. Later in life she is on trial for horrendous crimes but she refuses to defend herself. Michael knows that she is hiding something she considers more shameful.
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Disturbing, thought provoking fictional "memoir" of postwar Germany.
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I loved the relationships in this book. This one is a lot bigger than it appears.
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An enthralling book.
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A very deep morality book that will stay with you. Gut-wrenching
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A very sad and haunting love story. I loved it!
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Great read; absolutely mesmerizing.
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Love this book. Have reread it three times already.
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This book was so much more than I expected it to be! Read it!
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This book really touched me - it appealed to both my heart and my mind. Set in the desolate lanscape of postwar Germany, 15 year old Michael becomes involved with Hannah, a woman twice his age. Her secretive nature puzzles Michael. One day she inexplicably disappears. When Michael next sees Hannah he is a law student and she is on trial for some terrible crimes. Though other women are on trial for the same crimes, Hannah stays silent, taking almost the full brunt of the guilt and sentence. At first, Michael is puzzled at Hannah's silence but then figures out the other secret she's keeping. The book ends tragically and despite Hannah's alleged crimes and pride, you can't help but feel compassion for her. A must read for anyone who struggles with moral dilemmas or anyone who just wants a good, erotic, mystery to read.
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Wonderful book,Fast read, Moving story.
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This is a moving story about a fifteen year old boy, his affair with a beautiful older woman, and how it affects his life when she disappears.
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NY Times best seller and Oprah club selection
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Good enough for Oprah's Book Club.
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Thought-provoking. Good read.
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Not my usual type of book, but I loved it!
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"The Reader" is both a literary surprise and a moral challenge: a riveting, provocative, and deeply moving novel about a young boy's erotic awakening in a passionate, clandestine love affair with an older woman, and what happens to them both when the secrets in her past are revealed. Fifteen-year-old Michael Berg becomes ill on the way home from school. A woman takes care of him. Later, the boy arrives at her home with a bunch of flowers to thank her. And then comes back again. Hanna is the first woman he has ever desired. But there is something slightly off-key about her. His questions about her family and her life go unanswered. One day Hanna simply disappears. Michael's life goes on, but he can't forget her. Years later, as a law student observing a trial in Germany, Michael is shocked to realize that the person in the dock is Hanna. The woman he had loved so passionately is a criminal. Much about her behavior during the trial makes no sense. But then, suddenly and terribly, it does; Hanna is not only obliged to answer for a horrible crime, she is also desperately concealing an even deeper secret. As the past erupts into the present; both Michael's past with Hanna, and the past of Germany itself; Michael must accept that he will never be free of either of them.
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Oprah Book Club® Selection, February 1999: Originally published in Switzerland, and gracefully translated into English by Carol Brown Janeway, The Reader is 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 generations, between the guilty and the innocent, and between words and silence.
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I almost gave up on this, thinking it was just about a love affair, but then, with the turn of one page I couldn't put it down.
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Strange and off
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Oprah's Book Club
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An Oprah Book Club book. A book you can really read into but don't necessary need to for the gist of it. A good read.
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Haunting and disturbing story. Beautifully written.
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The book follows the relationship between a young man named Michael Berg and a woman, Hanna, who is twice his age. They develop an odd friendship until her disappearance. When they meet again, Hanna reveals a powerful secret.
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After reading this (I never saw the movie) I couldn't understand what all the hub-bub was about over this story . . . much less why anyone would make it into a movie . . . wouldn't necessarily search this author out again.
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Rather 'Noir'. On Oprahs list
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Overrated.
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Ugh, this book was not very good at all. It had been recommended to me by a friend and I had to give it back. I only read 3 chapters and all I can say is BOOOORRRINNGG!!
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I read this book several years ago and thought it well written with an intriguing story line. I recently ordered the pbs copy for my daughter in law, who is reading more literary fiction.
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I remember when this book (maybe another version) had about 300 copies on PBS, then the movie came out and it went to being a wish list book. I think that's the only time that has happened.
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Brilliant book. I enjoyed every minute of it!
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I thought this book was so boring! I read the whole thing hoping it would get better! No Luck!
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I read this years ago and passed it on, but it was a good read.
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When he falls ill on his way home from school, fifteen-year-old Michael Berg is rescued by Hanna, a woman twice his age. In time she becomes his lover, enthralling him with her passion but puzzling him with her odd silences. Then she disappears. He doesn't see her again until he is a young law student and Hanna is on trial for a hiedous crime. This book is different but beautifully written.
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VEry good book.
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I read this book too quickly and will have to reread it before our bookclub discusses it. It was truly thought provoking and left me thinking deeply about the many issues that were brought up.I highly recommend it.
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i had this book on my TBR and i was at the library and it was on cd. campbell scott read the book, what a nice voice to listen to. the book was very thought provoking, and moving.i thought about it as i was woking and wondering what was going to happen. enjoyed this book.
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Well Done. Disturbing book about horrific times.
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What a disappointing book. It def. did not live up to its hype. I guess you were supposed to be shocked by the weakness of someone who appeared so strong but isn't that the way things always are? The only reason this book got published is because the main character has the shock value of being a guard in a Nazi prison camp. Other then that, nothing stood out about either character or helped you feel connected to them. Overall, I was so glad when this book ended and i could move on.
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One day fifteen year old Michael is on his way home from school when he becomes violently ill. A 36 year old woman named Hanna spots his distress, cleans him up and walks him home. Michael lands in bed with hepatitis for several weeks and when he recovers his mom asks him to personally thank Hannah for her kindness. And boy does she ever . . .

The two become bed-mates for a time and she enjoys listening to Michael read to her. Michael fancies himself a little in love with Hanna despite her odd, aloof behavior. He also struggles with keeping the affair a secret and behaving like a normal teenager. The affair comes to an end when Hanna spots Michael swimming with friends and doesn't acknowledge her. Hanna then disappears.

Years later Michael is a law student sitting in a courtroom and learns that Hanna is on trial for murder and that she spent time as a concentration camp guard for the Nazi's. As the trial continues Michael realizes he knows a secret that can significantly reduce her sentence. But it's a secret that Hanna has kept to herself entire life and he's unsure if he should speak out when she refuses to defend herself.

This is a story with some heavy moral dilemma's but it's ultimately a story of regret of wasted lives. It's a quick read but not one, I think, I will easily forget.
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Overall I liked it, got a little lost & bored during the trial...wanted more detail of her time at the Nazi camp. she was a sympathetic character I thought, but the "big reveal" about her was no surprise, I figured it out very early on. Was over exagerrated by all the hype. Still will probably see the movie, love Kate Winslet.
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Excellent. This is a brilliant book.
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the Cover says "disturbing".....That is the truth. But very worth reading.
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This book is an Oprah's Book club book. Michael Berg, 15 years old has an affair with an older woman. She is a German lady and later disappears. He becomes a law student and later finds her on trial for murder.
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How to get inside a very different mind
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Excellent book, can't wait to see the movie. We need to remember what a horrible time that was for the Jews.
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For anyone who enjoys Oprah's Book Club - this was on her list a couple of years ago.
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When he falls ill on his way home from school, fifteen-year-old Michael Berg is rescued by Hanna, a woman twice his age. In time she becomes his lover. She enthralls him with her passion, but puzzles him with her odd silences. Then she inexplicably disappears.

When Michael next sees her, he is a young law student and Hanna is on trial for a hideous crome. But as he watches her refuse to defend herself, Michael gradually realizes that his former lover may be guarding a secret she considers more shameful than murder.

Oprah's Book Club book
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One day fifteen year old Michael is on his way home from school when he becomes violently ill. A 36 year old woman named Hanna spots his distress, cleans him up and walks him home. Michael lands in bed with hepatitis for several weeks and when he recovers his mom asks him to personally thank Hannah for her kindness. And boy does she ever . . .

The two become bed-mates for a time and she enjoys listening to Michael read to her. Michael fancies himself a little in love with Hanna despite her odd, aloof behavior. He also struggles with keeping the affair a secret and behaving like a normal teenager. The affair comes to an end when Hanna spots Michael swimming with friends and doesn't acknowledge her. Hanna then disappears.

Years later Michael is a law student sitting in a courtroom and learns that Hanna is on trial for murder and that she spent time as a concentration camp guard for the Nazi's. As the trial continues Michael realizes he knows a secret that can significantly reduce her sentence. But it's a secret that Hanna has kept to herself entire life and he's unsure if he should speak out when she refuses to defend herself.

This is a story with some heavy moral dilemma's but it's ultimately a story of regret of wasted lives. It's a quick read but not one, I think, I will easily forget.
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This book changed my life.
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FROM THE PUBLISHER
The Reader is both a literary surprise and a moral challenge: a riveting, provocative, and deeply moving novel about a young boy's erotic awakening in a passionate, clandestine love affair with an older woman, and what happens to them both when the secrets in her past are revealed. Fifteen-year-old Michael Berg becomes ill on the way home from school. A woman takes care of him. Later, the boy arrives at her home with a bunch of flowers to thank her. And then comes back again. Hanna is the first woman he has ever desired. But there is something slightly off-key about her. His questions about her family and her life go unanswered. One day Hanna simply disappears. Michael's life goes on, but he can't forget her. Years later, as a law student observing a trial in Germany, Michael is shocked to realize that the person in the dock is Hanna. The woman he had loved so passionately is a criminal. Much about her behavior during the trial makes no sense. But then, suddenly and terribly, it does Hanna is not only obliged to answer for a horrible crime, she is also desperately concealing an even deeper secret. As the past erupts into the present both Michael's past with Hanna, and the past of Germany itself Michael must accept that he will never be free of either of them.
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Very entertaining!
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Oprah Book Club Book - pretty good.
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Oprah's book club pick!
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from Oprah's book club
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As always, a good Oprah's Book Club choice
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"Born and raised in Saratoga, NY, the three Saperstone siblings are scattered throughout the country leading very separate lives. But when their proud spirited mother dies, they are drawn back home. Here, her children discover they have inherited a stunning legacy: long-term investments bequeathed by Henry Ford, Harvy Firestone, and Thomas Edison - who called themselves 'the vagabonds' - to the Saperstone's grandmother. Hush money for a night of indiscretion and held in trust for generations, this unexpected windfall is about to utterly transform their lives." (from the back cover's description)