Book Reviews of The Reader

The Reader
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: Amazon | Write a Review

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

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.
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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 + 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.
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.
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 + 3 more book reviews
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 book is really not my taste
reviewed The Reader on + 16 more book reviews
Some what slow, yet very enjoyable. Would read again.
reviewed The Reader on + 26 more book reviews
this was a good read, took me a little while to get through it but i was shockingly surprised at the end!
reviewed The Reader on
Beautifully written, wish it was longer.
reviewed The Reader on + 5 more book reviews
I thought the beginning was a little slow, but then it got pretty good.
reviewed The Reader on + 4 more book reviews
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.
reviewed The Reader on + 16 more book reviews
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.
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 + 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.
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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.
reviewed The Reader on
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.
reviewed The Reader on + 87 more book reviews
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.
reviewed The Reader on
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.
reviewed The Reader on + 9 more book reviews
"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.
reviewed The Reader on + 3 more book reviews
I saw the movie first (which I loved). The book filled in so many questions. Wonderful story--wonderful writing!
reviewed The Reader on + 64 more book reviews
I hope the movie is half as good as the book. Read it before you go see the movie.
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.