The Book Thief
I can see why this has been such a publishing success. It's very effective at what it does; even though it's not my sort of thing, I definitely wanted to know what happened and found myself caught up in the story. And I quite understand how a book so thoroughly in favour of books should win such reader loyalty!
My major gripe with the language is the know-it-all narrator. I appreciate that this is appropriate since the narrator is a world-weary Death, but it still grates with me because I find it unduly doom-laden (even when done in other books without this one's excuse!). Just a personal bug-bear of mine, I'm afraid!
I found some parts very moving, usually involving Hans or Max. Hans' inability to stop himself helping the hungry Jew, against all sense. And his horrified realisation at the danger he's put the hidden Jew in. Similarly Liesel or Hans realises part way into a mistake what they've done and has the bitter taste of it on their tongue, but still have to flounder on. How many times have I felt that?
And it certainly gave me an insight into the daily reality for ordinary German people, especially the fear of being reported. Which makes me think of a highly recommended book called "Nothing to envy" about North Korea. Factual, about a handful of real life stories there. Will show you at our lunch as one option...