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The Reader
The Reader
Author: Bernhard Schlink, Carol Brown Janeway (Translator)
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 inexplicably disappears. When Michael next sees her, he is a young law student, and she is on trial for a hideous crime. As he watches her refuse to defend her innocence, Michael gradu...  more »
ISBN-13: 9780307454898
ISBN-10: 0307454894
Publication Date: 11/25/2008
Pages: 224
Edition: Reprint
  • Currently 3.6/5 Stars.

3.6 stars, based on 291 ratings
Publisher: Vintage
Book Type: Paperback
Reviews: Member | Amazon | Write a Review

Top Member Book Reviews

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 + 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 + 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 + 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 + 23 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.
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reviewed The Reader on
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+!
reviewed The Reader on + 47 more book reviews
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.
reviewed The Reader on + 105 more book reviews
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.