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3.8 458
by Bernhard Schlink

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ISBN-10: 0307473465

ISBN-13: 2900307473461

Pub. Date: 12/30/2008

Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group

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


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 she 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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Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
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Vintage International Series
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The Reader 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 458 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is possibly one of the most entrhalling translated pieces I've read. It bypasses The Stranger by miles. Very hartwarming and, yet, disturbing. If you have ever taken the simple skill of reading for granted this novel will force you to think upon it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very easy read. the first half of the book is sensual, sexual, and lulls you into a very comfortable exploration of forbidden love reminiscent of The Graduate. The characters could have been any two people in any country or time, sharing intimate encounters and a love of literature. Then the heartbreak of losing his first lover unexplainably seems to fit right into the assumed genre. But the second half of the book had me spellbound, trying to balance the inhumane horror of the woman on trial with the woman previously in love. I won't spoil the ending for anyone who hasn't read it or seen the movie. But the author reveals the woman's motivations slowly while highlighting the boy's and societies' inability to separate the whats from the whys. I was especially impressed with the author's exploration of the generational blame of a country humiliated by the horrors of genocide.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I read the book in a day. I though it was extremly well written. I kept thinking about this book even after I had finished it. I felt really close to Michael. When he hurt, so did I. I loved his views on Frau Schmitz. I really really enjoyed this boosk. It was reaaly a beautiful story....
PierreRadulescu More than 1 year ago
What makes it so impressive, this novel? It's presented as largely autobiographic, and it is really written with passion, as the author wanted to get finally free of his obsessions. Of course, it is impossible to get the real autobiographical elements, and, after all, once a book is written it becomes a fiction: it is about its own universe, different from the universe of the author. What is this book about? Is it mainly about Hanna, the woman who had become an SS criminal because she was trying to cover her illiteracy? Well, no. It is mainly about him, about The Reader, Der Vorleser (the German language is here more exact: The One Who Reads Aloud, more precisely The One Who Reads Aloud To Be Listened). He is the main character, the book is about his reactions toward Hanna. It is about him discovering through Hanna his erotic awakening, then about him discovering the secret of Hanna (her illiteracy), and so, through Hanna, discovering the banality of evil. Let's make here a short break: it is a book about the problematic of the Holocaust; what makes it original is maybe not the fact that Hanna is not a victim but a perpetrator; what makes it a great book is that it speaks forcefully about the banality of evil. Hanna did not commit her crimes because she was hating Jews, or because she was believing in any of Nazi ideas; she was simply trying to cover her illiteracy and any other aspect was unimportant for her. As simple as that! But this is not the only greatness. There is another one, overwhelming: his coming to terms with Hanna. You see, a complex of love/hate/guilt is crossing the whole story, from the beginning to the end. He loves Hanna, he hates her, as he is horrified by the evil. So love/hate, while the guilt, I mean his guilt, is ever present. At the beginning an unclear Freudian complex, at the trial the guilt that he loves a criminal, in the end the guilt that he cannot stand firmly on her side! The solution the hero finds in himself, to read aloud book after book and to send the cassettes to the prison, to be listened there by Hanna, this is really overwhelming: someone could be a horrible criminal, but she or he remains a human being and keeps always the right for human dignity. Someone could be a horrible criminal but she or he remains a human being, and a human being is fragile; so she or he always needs someone else to protect this fragility.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was one of the best books I've ever read. So easy to read but it holds this sense of complexity. Would recommend this to anyone who just needs a good book to read in a short amount of time. I finished it in about 3 hours. I would love to read more by this author.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I read The Reader and was so excited to see another title out by Schlink. I read it in one day, just could not put it down. The stories are real and in some ways very ironic. The stories read like novels in the sense that they have very well developed characters and plot yet it's easy and a real treat to read. Much like the Reader these stories are full of surprises that'll keep you talking about them for months to come. In my opinion Schlink is fast becoming one of the most important writers of the 21st century.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a good read. On one hand you have historical accounts of the holocaust. If you were looking for erotica, you are on the wrong shelf. On the other hand is the parallel message of our daily lives. Empty characters for you to define. And moral dilemmas, again within our daily lives. Well written.
Guest More than 1 year ago
From the beguining to the end I was engage with the lecture of this book,I was able to feel his strugle, her lonelyness, the whole story is amazing, is been a long time since a book touch my heart like this one did, is definily a most read!!! I must admit that I could'n control my tears at the end, becouse I wanted to keep reading honestly I didn't wanted to end...
Guest More than 1 year ago
I read this book many years ago, I was still in high school. I would suggest this book to anyone, not only does it bring real life issues to light but also teaches us about unknowns. Anyone who didn't love this book should go back and read it again, and maybe think of reading more enlighting books themselves.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The Reader is the best book I read so far! I love the descrition of every detail.....described. It was amazing,I couldnt put it down!!!! I recommend this book TO EVERYONE!.....READ IT!
detroit_tiger More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed the author's style, and especially enjoyed the realistic conclusions- which I find to be often missing in most novels. This novel is definately not a "disney" novel- which I welcomed and enjoyed. The details the author used for descriptions helped me to paint a very clear picture in my head of the places, actions, and people. I also feel like there are political and intellectual messages for the time that may be intersting to discuss in book clubs. It was a very fast read and I would recommend it to mature readers only due to some graphic sexual nature. The Reader was translated into 'layman' terms that made it easy to read.
amber_duckie_2000 More than 1 year ago
Greetings B and N customers. I recently read The Reader and was so surprised by the simplistic writing style of Mr. Schlink. It was difficult to get thru the emotional roller-coaster of the main character- Hanna, but once you realize why her emotions are leaving little to be desired, you will fully understand the depth at to which she had to hide her "true" self. I had a disappointing experience reading this, mainly because the main character, Michael, reveals so much about himself, whereas Hanna holds so much back- you feel like lterally throwing the book across the room. Very frustrating read overall, yet when her secret is eventually revealed, you can kind of see why Hanna was such a tortured soul, so to speak. I hated how he was treated by her. And yes it's true, in the end, he wound up truly understanding what an embarassment it would be for her to admit her illiteracy than it was for her to go on trail to admit her crimes of tourturing people in Nazi germany. Wow, how messed up is that?!?!?! The writing is simplistic, but the subject matter is very deep. Please, watch the movie as well, and make your own decisions. It was a quick yet VERY FRUSTRATING read, mainly toward the characters emotions. Other than that, definately not for the faint of heart, but yes, the sex scenes were pretty nice. I hope this review was helpful. Take care and happy reading!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was a quick read, no substance. I felt like I never got enough information about the woman character & the "secret" was painfully obvious. I don't know why anyone would make this into a movie?!
afr More than 1 year ago
I had high expectations of this book since it was an international best seller, whoever was disappointed did not find it as good as expected.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
too much of a drawn out middle and too depresing.
SandyM0928 More than 1 year ago
This was possibly the most depressing, awful book I have ever read
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I don't read Holocaust novels or see Holocaust movies, but wanted to read this novel written by a German. Cool as to how it handles the Holocaust, it is a remarkable tale, asking how long guilt should last (from our point of view), and how much sympathy one is entitled to expect (from the perpertrator's point of view).
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
When I chose this book, my choice was based on the movie ads running. While it looked good, I was somewhat suspicious that it was another older woman/ younger man story. While it was, the secret caught me by surprise. The translation was well done and it left as many clues as I could ask for, but I remained surprised in the courtroom when her now adult young lover sat listening to her testimony.
How much we give up to keep our secrets is where this book left me. In the end, her decision seemed logical as it relates to how she lived her life. The reader was a great book that I had finished in record time.
MaGicAllyGeNuisJ More than 1 year ago
The Reader is an award-winning novel by German law professor and judge Bernhard Schlink. It was published in Germany in 1995 and in the United States (translated into English by Carol Brown Janeway) in 1997. It deals with the difficulties of subsequent generations to comprehend the Holocaust.

The first part of the book begins in West Germany in 1958.The main character Micheal Berg who is 15 years old, becomes ill on his way home and meets a lady name Hanna Schmitz who is 36 years old. Hanna takes Micheal under wing and gets him clean up before he heads home to his parents.

That's when the love affair begins. I found this book very interesting, its like when you begin to read you can't put it down. Its so much that goes on in this book, that its mind-blowing.

It took me a day and half to read this book, and during the time that I was reading. Nothing else matter lol. Everything else just dissipates. If your looking for a book for a gift, or a book club read. This is it...YOU HAVE FOUND WHAT YOUR LOOKING FOR!!!
avid_readerBW More than 1 year ago
This is the most thought provoking and emotional novel I have ever read. Yes, it is a novel that deals with what happened to former Nazis after the war, but there is a much deeper meaning that deals with whether one should keep their dignity, or be seen as a criminal. One of the best novels I have ever read!!!
sugargirl84 More than 1 year ago
I wasn's sure how to feel about this book. There was a combination of good and bad writing in the book. I felt like the characters did't connect as much as I had hoped they would. The author went on about to many subjects that were boring or weren't relevant. He should have gone into great depth about the relationship.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Before reading, I thought I had seen this plot before...older woman, young boy, forbidden and taboo love...but this novel is a story so far beyond what I expected. Such a fantastic read. I would recommend to all.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I really liked the book! But I didn't like how in the beginning, about the relationship with the woman and boy was not explained well. In the end, when he said he was about to cry, I couldn't believe it because I didn't think he was that emotionally attached to her because the beginning I didn't think the relationship was like that. But overall I really liked the book and would recommend it to anyone.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is one of the five best books I've ever read. It was gripping and fascinating. I read it close to ten years ago, but it still stays with me as one of the best.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I found this book very interesting because it offers a look at German as a nation tried to rebuild after WW11. The issue of dealing with generational guilt is one that is rarely dealt with in contemporary literature about the war. I don't necessarily agree with all of the authors conclusions but it definitely gave me a lot to think about!