The Reader by Bernhard Schlink

The Reader

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—then she inexplicably disappears. When Michael next sees her, he is a young law s...

Details The Reader

TitleThe Reader
Release DateJun 26th, 1997
GenreFiction, Historical, Historical Fiction, European Literature, German Literature, World War II, Holocaust

Reviews The Reader

  • BlackOxford
    What About the Children?The Reader is a profound exposition of the 'second generation' issues concerning moral guilt for the Holocaust. But it is, I think, also relevant more generally to the way in which human beings get ensnared incrementally into the evils of their society. We are all inevitably involved in this larger problem. And, like the SS guards at a Nazi death camp, we are unaware of the moral peril of our situation, and unwilling to re...
  • karen
    booring. is that a review?? this was just very flat to me. i wasn't offended by the subject matter - i could care less about the "scandalous" elements. but the writing was so clinical and thin. at one point, i blamed the translation, but c'mon - its not that hard to translate german to english (i can't do it, of course, but it's supposed to be one of the easiest translations) i have nothing helpful to say about this except i was bored bored bored...
  • Ahmad Sharabiani
    Der Vorleser = The reader, Bernhard SchlinkThe Reader is a novel by German law professor and judge Bernhard Schlink, published in Germany in 1995. The story is told in three parts by the main character, Michael Berg. Each part takes place in a different time period in the past. Part I begins in a West German city in 1958. After 15-year-old Michael becomes ill on his way home, 36-year-old tram conductor Hanna Schmitz notices him, cleans him up, an...
  • Lavinia
    I have the feeling there's more than one way of looking at this book. On one hand it can be viewed as a bildungsroman, it follows Michael Berg since the age of 15 till full maturity. On the other hand, it's the post-war German generation coming to terms with their past, the Nazi crimes and their parents' guilt. Guilt, actually, is a recurring theme in the novel: Hanna is guilty of war crimes, Michael is guilty for betrayal (plus he feels guilty f...
  • Emily May
    I'm not really sure why this book is considered one of the best books of all time and managed to make into the big 1001 list. Most of the time, even if I don't like a book, I tend to understand why someone else picked it. In this case, I'm rather clueless. Is it, perhaps, that people see in it some message about humanity when Hanna won't purchase her freedom with the secret she has kept hidden for years? Is it the vivid sexual tale of a teenage b...
  • Whitney Atkinson
    This is the deep character development and type of writing that i've been craving. A book that made me think and ask so many questions. Sometimes I felt like I was struggling through really heavy writing, but the actual story itself and the moral questions that arise from its telling were really, really interesting and I surprised myself with how much I found myself contemplating this novel. Someone told me there's a movie with Kate Winslet and s...
  • Hirdesh
    Great book.Wonderful piece and remotely expressed Words flowing like water in oceans.I'd Miss someone with that book.As the Young Lady entangled with teen.Which flows the flawless love between them even when she got life imprisonment, She was turned to old. And Teen was turned to Man.Time had changed, but their love sustained as he gave her recordings of stories.Lovely Book.Also, Watch movie based on this novel, My one of favourite actress, the d...
  • Apokripos
    There are some books you know will stay with you forever, and Bernhard Schlink's The Reader is definitely one of them. It has been highly critically acclaimed, winning the Boston Book Review's Fisk Fiction Prize, and it deserves all the praise it has received. The Holocaust is a difficult, though much covered, subject matter, and this novel has a sure touch and an appealing lack of judgment with it. The story begins in the world of almost-childho...
  • İntellecta
    The book is clearly structured. Also the choice of words is at a normal level and therefore also suitable for beginners in classical, great literature.
  • Anne
    The biggest problem I had with this book was the fact that it made me feel...nothing. I didn't feel connected to the characters or to any part of the plot. This is quite a bummer, as it deals with a pretty heavy topic. I feel like the author intended to write the story this way though, because the writing style in general has a certain type of "coldness" to it, and the true feelings of a character are never really explored. Some people might not ...
  • Lisa
    This novel breaks so many taboos, it is hard to know where to start reflecting on it. And yet, its plot is not unrealistic or uncommon.It is about a sexual relationship between a young man and an older woman.It is about illiteracy and shame.It is about crimes against humanity, committed out of helplessness and an egocentric wish to hide one's own weakness.It is about the Holocaust weighing on the shoulders of post-1945 Germany's population.It is ...
  • PirateSteve
    " " I ... I mean ... so what would you have done? " Hanna meant it as a serious question. She did not know what she should or could have done differently, and therefore wanted to hear from the judge, who seemed to know everything, what he would have done. " This same question is posed in other situations throughout this book. Should Michael, being the only other person to know Hanna's secret, have exposed this secret in order to help her during t...
  • Matt
    It's too simple to say I read any single book because I want to read it. There are dozens of reasons I'll pick up a particular title: I like the author; I like the subject matter; the book is an award winner; the book comes with many trusted recommendations; I was supposed to read the book in high school and I feel guilty because I played Goldeneye on my N64 instead. I will freely admit that I read War and Peace simply to say I read War and Peace...
  • Steven Godin
    There have been many ways over the years in which literature has found a path to deal with the Holocaust and its consequences, but a book about the inability to be able to read might not seem the most obvious. Yet in terms of attracting a mass audience, something that Schlink has clearly done, this German novel with illiteracy at its heart published back in the mid-90's, has been a phenomenon amongst readers. Bernhard Schlink's forth and easily m...
  • Nandakishore Varma
    There are certain books which have an impact on one, without one being able to put one's finger exactly on the reason why. 'The Reader' by Bernhard Schlink is such a book.The experience of reading this book was like taking a train ride through a pleasant landscape: you mosey along comfortably, enjoying the view and the climate, settled and relaxed. The journey is comfortable enough without being anything out of the ordinary. Then suddenly, the tr...
  • Jennifer
    This book just fell short with me, on oh so many levels. One thing that did intrigue me and that I have not yet seen much of is the perspective of Germans after the Holocaust and their views on the Third Reich and Hitler's agenda, especially of the younger generation of that time. That was really the only thing that struck me about this book. The rest was just not enough. For one, the affair between MIchael and Hanna was deplorable. Is it suppose...
  • F
    Just not for me.Hated both characters.I didn't feel sorry for either of them.
  • Manny
    [Before reading: posted late 2009]Haven't read it, but was completely blown away by the movie. Masterpiece! Kate Winslet was even better than I'd expected, and that's saying quite a bit.Maybe I'll finally get serious about improving my German... no question about the appropriateness of the book._______________________[After reading: posted early 2019]It's funny how all the books you read link up inside you and start talking to each other. I finis...
  • Britany
    An Intensely powerful story and I'm still thinking "What do I do with this one??" 15 year old Michael Berg becomes sick and suddenly meets Hanna Schmitz, a much older woman who lives in his neighborhood. She helps him and they begin a relationship. He reads to her, and the intimacy is so strong that I'm not even sure how I should feel about it. It feels real and raw, and dripping in lust, while at the same time, it feels wrong, and I'm left feeli...
  • Maxwell
    I thought this was an interesting (if not somewhat disturbing) story, but not one that particularly blew me away. The questions of morality and complicity are intriguing as well; probably my favorite parts of the story where Michael's recollections of his experiences and trying to make sense of which were good, how he should feel about them in hindsight, etc. Glad I finally read this because it is so famous but not one that I'm in love with.
  • Chloe
    This is not a book that I wanted to read. So many times while reading books about the Holocaust, I feel a disconnectedness from the events. It's a mixture of two things. The first is that the sheer scope of events is just too large, too horrific, for one person's words to do justice to it. The second, and this could partly be due to the first problem, is that I detest being manipulated by my books. With a lot of Holocaust literature the villains ...
  • Priscila Jordão
    If Hanna’s illiteracy was used by the author as a metaphor to portray the ignorance that allowed an entire generation to perpetrate, or, at least, to comply with the crimes of WWII? I’m not so sure about it. After all, the germans were not more ignorant than other people at the time. Far from it. My hypothesis is that Hanna’s illiteracy represents the inability of reading behind daily events and interpreting their possible consequences, whi...
  • Stewart
    Whenever a film is coming out that is based on an acclaimed book, I try to read the book first (knowing that the reverse order almost never happens for me). The Reader is the latest such circumstance, and I'm glad I made the time for this quick read. The book centers on the reflections of a man who, as a teenager in post WW-II Germany, had a passionate love affair with a reticent and mysterious older woman. Mere months later, she disappears from ...
  • Monika
    There will always be some substantial gaps among peoples. This gap, however, is not of caste or class or gender. It is the gap of shallowed empathetic experience. The Reader is about this gap. It is about the mystery of what something must have felt like and this 'something' in the book is Holocaust. Michael Berg, the narrator, is the 'second generation' of the Holocaust. His relationship with an older woman, one of the SS guards at the Nazi camp...
  • Darlene
    **This review contains spoilers since what I have to say about this book can't be expressed without revealing details. If you haven't read this book and wish to, you should stop reading now...**If I had read this book, 'The Reader' by Bernhard Schlink a decade ago, I would have felt much differently about it than I do reading it now. This book, a thin volume at just 218 pages, presents moral situations or dilemmas which invite the reader to consi...
  • Arun Divakar
    The concept of love never ceases to amaze. From the cradle to the grave, a human being is guided,driven, motivated or annihilated because of it. Even when the presence of this feeling is what makes life tick for all humanity, we tend to call the romantic variant as 'falling in' love. This has always seemed ironical to me for if this feeling was as spiritually uplifting as it is believed to be, why don't we call it 'rising in' love ?Ah ! But I dig...
  • Friederike Knabe
    The topic of the Holocaust is raised almost every day in some manner. Many books have been written about the topic. Whether in studies, documentaries or fictional accounts, finger-pointing at the perpetrators of the crimes against millions has been part of the process of coming to terms with the Nazi atrocities. For Imre Kertesz, renowned author and Nobel laureate of 2002, there is no other topic. Yet, when he reflects on the traumatic impact of ...
  • RJ
    A meaningful plot summary would undoubtedly set off spoiler alarms, and one might best enjoy this novel with no preconceived notions, although it seems safe to say the story begins as a relationship forms between a young boy and an older woman, and it ends many years later. The matter-of-fact prose keeps the focus squarely on the story which can be interpreted metaphorically.
  • Vimal Thiagarajan
    Aside from throwing light on lesser known post-war ramifications of the Nazi regime, this short, compact book surprised me with the number of moral, ethical and behavioral conundrums that it posed. These conundrums, if explored do not lead to answers but might lead to a sense of improved understanding - an understanding that is not limited to Nazi crimes, but can be applied to a whole host of mass crimes and post-war genocides where exploration i...
  • Connie G
    "The Reader" focuses on the generation born after World War II in Germany dealing with their knowledge of the horrors of the Holocaust, and realizing that people of their parents' generation had a role in carrying out the atrocities. They may find that they loved or thought highly of people who were part of the Nazi machine.Michael Berg is the narrator of this fictional memoir which opens when he first meets Hanna Schmitz. Michael is 15 years old...