Monday, July 5, 2010


derivative of Rudolph: a famous wolf

I’ve read a lot of books in my life. A few because I was required to read them, many more because I wanted to. It’s hard to choose a favorite book of all time, in part because I continue to read. How can I say this or that book is my favorite when I’m constantly adding new data to the pool? But if I am honest with myself, I do have a favorite book. I came to realize that I could admit this book was my favorite after mentioning it to two people recently and having them say, "I didn't just like it.  It's the best book I've ever read."

I'm not jumping on a best book bandwagon here.  I can tell it’s my favorite because I’ve read it three times (the only book I have ever read that many times), have suggested it to countless people and my eyes tear up just thinking about it. If you haven’t read The Book Thief, I think you should.

There are many, many things I love about this book, but foremost are the characters that populate its pages. They live and breathe on the page and in my mind. So in an effort to pay homage to the beauty that is The Book Thief, I’d like to use this post (and possibly a few subsequent ones) to introduce you to these characters.

The second time I read The Book Thief, I told my husband, “It’s a good thing Rudy Steiner is fictional because if he wasn’t, I might have to marry him.” Rudy is easy to fall in love with. He’s a German teenager who wants nothing so much as to be Jesse Owens. He’s a foul mouthed boy who stands up for his friends when it costs him everything. He has a kind heart and hair the color of lemons.

Here is what I love about Rudy most of all: he falls in love with Liesel, the titular Book Thief, the moment he meets her. But he is content to be her friend. Even at the young age of twelve, Liesel’s had a rough life. She’s ended up on Himmel Street with her foster parents Max and Rosa after a tortuous train ride that left her more alone than a person has a right to be. So when Rudy falls in love with Liesel, she can’t love him back. She’s far too broken for that.  Love requires vulnerability and Liesel is fresh out of that.

Rudy, wise beyond his years or just the kind of boy so good at heart that we only find them in novels, knows this about Liesel. So he plays soccer with her. He covers for her at school, even if it means taking a lashing from a nun. He walks with her, talks with her, lives life with her. He accepts what she can offer him, even if it’s not what he wants most: her heart. That will, of course, come to him in due time.

As I write this, I am sitting on the bathroom floor of a hotel room – victim of insomnia and an unhealthy love of books in general and The Book Thief in particular. There are tears streaking down my face as I think about Rudy. If that’s not enough to convince you to read The Book Thief, check back in a few days and I’ll introduce you to another character who might be more to your liking. There are plenty of good ones to choose from.


aimee Guest said...

Your insomnia is bad news for me, I can't match your posts on my blog, you're getting them out way too quick. I do like this book as well of course though I confess there was no crying. Though I haven't read it 3 times yet, maybe that's the catch. I also can't believe you haven't read other books that many times! Time Traveler's Wife, the Harry Potter Books, Lengle Books, Tolkein Series, Jane Eyre, that's just the beginning of the list that I reread and reread and reread. Is it considered insomnia when it's only 10pm? Bedtime isn't until midnight. Watch some free Glee online.
miss you friend. I always love your bookish heart, so glad you found fiction again.

WordGirl said...

No, 10 PM doesn't count as insomnia, but this was penned last night between midnight and 1 AM. I just couldn't post because I didn't have free WI FI and wasn't willing to dress and go to the lobby to post it last night! :-)

Clearly, I don't do a lot of re-reading. I read it once and I'm done with it. Although I think I'm going to revisit this fave once we're home again.

RBM said...

Hmm, isn't Rudolph actually a famous reindeer??

(Sorry, I just could NOT resist :)

WordGirl said...

Rebecca, you are funny. Can I say I was so wrapped up in Rudy while I wrote this that I didn't even think about famous wolf vs. famous reindeer. Think that's how they came up with the name? :-)

Chris and Tiana said...

Aw, now I'm crying while thinking about Rudy! I love that boy.