The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

12 of 52 in my 2011 book blogging challenge.

Outstanding! 5 out of 5 stars without hesitation. The Book Thief is simply a great book.

The narrator is Death. The setting is Nazi Germany during World War II. The main character is a young girl who steals books.

I knew all of this before I started it. Still, I had it sitting in my “to read” pile for months before I got to it. I kept thinking, “Death is the narrator? Really? Am I sure I want to read that?” It was highly recommended, though, so I finally plunged in. I’m so glad I did. Death is the perfect narrator for this book. What we get in the war story told through the voice of death is the perfect blending of the realistic and the fantastical. We get something that is spectacularly Gothic in the best literary sense of the word. We get something that brings home all of the very real horrors of war while still allowing us to drift off in a kind of dreamy hopefulness for the power of humanity to prevail against the horrors.

I love Death in this book. I love the voice of Death. This voice is lyrical and wise.

You might think that the fantastical element in the choice of narrator pigeonholes the book as Young Adult literature. You might think the teenage main character pigeonholes it as well. Certainly, this book is appropriate reading material for teenagers, and it might be legitimately classified as YA. However, I see it more as the kind of book that transcends the lines of distinctions between younger readers and older readers. This isn’t just a YA book that will appeal to adults. It’s for anyone of any age, and it’s a great read no matter who you are.

Have I mentioned yet that I love this book?

Liesel Meminger steals her first book at her brother’s graveside. She takes it with her to her new home where her interest in the book inspires her foster father to teach her to read. We see all of the war then through Liesel’s perspective and Death’s voice — the rationing, the cruelty, the bombing, the death. We see the war as experienced by the German family as they hide a Jew in their basement. We see the war as experienced by a working class street where everyone has more reason to fear the Nazi Party than to join it.

And through each major turning point, Liesel has a new book. She isn’t greedy, you understand. She doesn’t take two books when she only needs one. She doesn’t steal a new book while she is still trying to finish the previous book. She just does what she has to do to keep words alive in her life.

She is the Word Shaker. This is the name that Max, her Jewish friend, gives her because she reads to him while he is sick, and she reads to others while they are waiting out air raids in bomb shelters. There is so much attention to the power of words, in fact, that words themselves nearly become their own character. They have physical presence. They perch on shoulders, creep across rooms, fall with thunks to the ground. They are world changers, and through them Liesel carves out her own place in the world. Through tragedy after tragedy after tragedy, she comes back to the words to see her through.

This is a must read. Go out now and grab the first available copy. Pour a cup of your beverage of choice and prepare to savor.

Alice’s Restaurant #photoaday #project365

Day 82:  Alice's Restaurant

82 of 365. Our Daily Challenge — Vintage.

You can get anything you want at Alice’s Restaurant
You can get anything you want at Alice’s Restaurant
Walk right in it’s around the back
Just a half a mile from the railroad track
You can get anything you want at Alice’s Restaurant.

Arlo Guthrie

www.youtube.com/watch?v=5_7C0QGkiVo

This is certainly a vintage building, and I tried to highlight that by adding a vintage effect to the image. I used cross processing and vignetting from Picnik.com.

My alternate shot today…

Need a cut?

The barber shop has a vintage look to it, and I’m sure you can get a vintage cut there. The pickup truck reflected in the window, however, is pure vintage Mississippi. I’m guessing it would be nearly impossible to take a picture of this building without a pickup truck reflected in the window.

Everthing is Beautiful #photoaday #project365

Day 81:  Everything is Beautiful

81 of 365. Our Daily Challenge — Ugly.

I’m not sure what this is. Some sort of rusted out electrical box thingie? Anyhow, it doesn’t look like much until you really look.

Alternate shot…

Ugly Habits

Ugly Habits

This is a trashcan, and I believe some of those lumps are prehistoric pieces of gum. Others are just gifts from random birds. This shot probably better suits the prompt of “ugly.” The one I chose is ugly on the surface but pretties up fairly well for a photograph. Turns out cigarette butts, old gum, and bird poop are still unattractive no matter what angle you put on it. At least they are still unattractive here. I have no doubt, though, a pretty photograph could be taken of them.

I do believe that everything is beautiful. It’s only up to us to discover where the beauty is.

2nd alternate shot…

Ugly Back Pain

Ugly Back Pain

She appears to be suffering some severely ugly back pain. To say nothing of the wrist.

Wide Open Goals #photoaday #project365

Day 80:  Wide Open Goals

80 of 365. Our Daily Challenge — Wide Open.

My lesson of the day for myself…

No matter how discouraged you may sometimes feel, if you just show up for a new day, you get a clean scoreboard and wide open opportunities to set and meet new goals.

Plus, I would like to enter this as official evidence that I do know where my school’s sports complex is. This was the only open field I could find. 🙂

And since I know you want some Dixie Chicks to go with an image called Wide Open Goals, I’ll just go ahead and share.

Moonshadow #photo #supermoon

Moonshadow

Did it take long to find me?
I ask the faithful light.
Oh, did it take long to find me?
And are you going to stay the night?

Cat Stevens, “Moonshadow”

I’ve been wanting to photograph this water tank for some time. I intended to try to catch it at sunset with lots of colors behind it. Instead I caught it at “moonset” very early this morning. Lucky for me, it was the super moon setting beside the water tank.

As a side note, the moon shot and this sunrise shot were taken in the same location as part of the same shoot.

Day 79:  While the World is Waiting

I was in a parking lot behind a medical plaza. I only had to turn in one direction for the moon and the opposite direction for the sunrise. It’s amazing what difference a mere 180 turn can make in the color of a morning.

While the World is Waiting #photoaday #project365

Day 79:  While the World is Waiting

79 of 365. Our Daily Challenge — Hope (for Japan and others)

One thing I learned from Hurricane Katrina is that no matter how much destruction surrounds you, the sun keeps rising, and out of the rubble rises new life and new friendships. Our brightest hope through our worst disaster came in the form of people who came to our aid and who came to watch the new day rise with us.

My heart goes out to Japan and other places in the world that have recently suffered great devastation. I wait for the sunrise with you.

The caption on the photo is from “The World is Waiting on the Sunrise,” written by Eugene Lockhart and Earnest Seitz. It’s been recorded by everyone from Chet Atkins to The Beatles.

Here’s a rendition from the Les Paul and Mary Ford show that is pretty funny.

Also, in case you missed it earlier in the week, here’s another that I did for Japan.

Prayers for Japan