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The Reader
The Reader
Author: Bernhard Schlink, Carol Brown Janeway (Translator)
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 ...  more »
Info icon
ISBN-13: 9780375707971
ISBN-10: 0375707972
Publication Date: 1999
Pages: 218
Rating:
  • Currently 3.4/5 Stars.
 1266

3.4 stars, based on 1266 ratings
Publisher: Vintage
Book Type: Paperback
Other Versions: Hardcover, Audio Cassette, Audio CD
Reviews: Member | Amazon | Write a Review

Top Member Book Reviews

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!
obsidianfire avatar 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.
Ryeth avatar 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.
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LaurieS avatar reviewed The Reader on + 504 more book reviews
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.
colie1718 avatar reviewed The Reader on + 70 more book reviews
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!
reviewed The Reader on + 36 more book reviews
"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."
emeraldfire avatar 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+!
joan13 avatar 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.
bulldoglover22 avatar 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.
cmcav04 avatar reviewed The Reader on + 25 more book reviews
Loved it!! Book is in three parts. Picks up in the Second with unexpected twists and turns. Won't disappoint.
reviewed The Reader on + 16 more book reviews
Good reading.
perryfran avatar reviewed The Reader on + 1159 more book reviews
This was a very hard-hitting and thought-provoking novel that raises questions regarding the atrocities committed by the Nazis during the Holocaust and whether subsequent generations should be held responsible. The protagonist of the novel is Michael Berg who fell ill on his way home from school when he was fifteen. He is rescued and taken home by Hanna Schmitz, a streetcar conductor in her thirties. But when Michael returns a week later to thank her, he and Hanna fall into a passionate love affair. Hanna also wants Michael to read to her which he does for several weeks. Then Hanna mysteriously disappears leaving Michael devastated. Later when Michael is in law school he attends a trial for a hideous Nazi war crime and finds that Hanna is one of the defendants. Hanna was a guard for the SS and served at Auschwitz and she is reluctant to adequately defend herself. As Michael watches the trial he realizes that she is hiding something she considers more humiliating than murder. Hanna is sentenced to prison and Michael must try to reconcile the terrible crimes she is accused of with his love for her.

This was a rather short novel that I was able to read in one afternoon. But it was also a very heart-wrenching and spellbinding story full of love and secrets, horror and compassion. Hanna was someone you feel sorry for even though she has undoubtedly committed some horrendous crimes. The novel really raises some hard issues regarding the responsibilities of blame for the Holocaust. Schlink raises the question of rather subsequent generations should share in this blame. A really thought-provoking read.

Edit: I rewatched the movie after finishing the book. I originally saw it not long after it was released in 2008. Kate Winslet won an Oscar for her performance but I feel the book really explained the details and events much better.
reviewed The Reader on + 17 more book reviews
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?
reviewed The Reader on + 25 more book reviews
I read it just to see what all the hoopla was about. I'm still not sure. Highly disturbing plot.
reviewed The Reader on + 3 more book reviews
This book was very good from front to back- an enormously powerful novel about guilt,justice,betrayal, and shame.
bookcrazychick avatar reviewed The Reader on + 76 more book reviews
Awesome book!
reviewed The Reader on + 6 more book reviews
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.
reviewed The Reader on
It was a very good book, a little disturbing but towards the end very rivoting..
cesprinces avatar reviewed The Reader on + 32 more book reviews
I read this book in less than 24 hours. It was a great story that really pulled you in. A must read! ! !
reviewed The Reader on + 9 more book reviews
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 : )
reviewed The Reader on + 23 more book reviews
Very moving.

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