In September and October, I will be leading two discussions of The Book Thief by Markus Zusak for Sandusky District Library‘s One Book, One Community program. The following is a passage in which I found particularly powerful:

(p. 134)
“Jesus, Mary…”

She said it out loud, the words distributed into a room that was full of cold air and books. Books everywhere! Each wall was armed with overcrowded yet immaculate shelving. It was barely possible to see the paintwork. There were all different styles and sizes of lettering on the spines of the black, the red, the every-colored books. It was one of the most beautiful things Liesel Meminger had ever seen.

With wonder, she smiled.

That such a room existed!

Even when she tried to wipe the smile away with her forearm, she realized instantly that it was a pointless exercise. She could feel the eyes of the woman traveling her body, and when she looked at her, they had rested on her face.

There was more silence than she ever though possible. It extended like an elastic, dying to break. The girl broke it.

“Can I?”

The two words stood among acres and acres of vacant, wooden-floored land. The books were miles away.

The woman nodded.

Yes, you can.