Death is objective

book thief

Or is he? Perhaps not in the case of The Book Thief. Although I generally avoid blogging about the same author twice, I reckon that Markus Zusak is the exception to the rule. I decided to reread this amazing story because of the film adaption which was recently released, and was once again struck by the genius of the author. If you have read his other works, you will understand how versatile he is and how he is a wordsmith in the true sense of the term.

The Book Thief tells the story of Liezel Meminger, living in Nazi Germany. Adopted by the Hubermans who live in a small town near Munich, Liezel learns to live, love and most importantly, to read, during the tumultuous period that was World War 2. The genius of this masterpiece is that it is narrated by Death, a very busy “person” at that particular point in history, as he encounters the book thief at several points in her young existence. It is a rich, exquisitely crafted tale that you will never forget, if you haven’t read it yet, what else have you been doing? I once watched an interview with Zusak in which he said he based the story’s events on anecdotes his grandmother used to tell him about the war, and I can’t help wondering if Granny Zusak was Liesel Meminger herself.

I paired this exquisite book with an exquisite wine, just as rich and layered as the story itself. The Clos Malverne Chardonnay is buttery and lingering, and is a worthy match for The Book Thief.

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The other side of the coin

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I very rarely read non-fiction, but if there is one man who can get me to, its Malcolm Gladwell. Most people know the New York Magazine writer best for his novel Outliers, and indeed, that was the first Gladwell book I read. But fans of his will be glad to know that he has just released a new book in a similar vein to Outliers called David and Goliath: underdogs, misfits and the art of battling giants.

In this book (which will take you all of three days to read-that’s just the way Gladwell’s writing style grips you) he turns stereotypes on their heads, and shows the reader that what most of society deems to be a disadvantage, such as dyslexia, death of a parent or a large class at school, can actually set an individual up to become incredibly successful in life.

As usual, Gladwell has thoroughly researched his topic and makes a very strong case for his argument, but I did feel that towards the end of the book (somewhere in Belfast in the 70’s I believe) he starts to lose focus and the point begins to weaken. It seems to taper and doesn’t have the strong finish I’m so fond of in Outliers.

All in all it’s a good book, and you will feel smarter for reading it. I paired this with a Vredenheim Sauvignon Blanc, it’s a simple, unassuming wine that leaves you satisfied without wanting more.