We are proud to announce that BookBrowse has won Platinum in the 2024 Modern Library Awards.

What readers think of The Reader, plus links to write your own review.

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reading Guide |  Reviews |  Read-Alikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

The Reader

by Bernhard Schlink

The Reader by Bernhard Schlink X
The Reader by Bernhard Schlink
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Mar 1999, 218 pages

    Mar 1999, 218 pages


  • Rate this book

Buy This Book

About this Book


Page 1 of 4
There are currently 30 reader reviews for The Reader
Order Reviews by:

Write your own review!


The hidden symbolism in The Reader
Marvelous book! Interesting that no review picked up on the incredible symbolism that the author wove into the story. If Hanna was first generation Germany, and Michael represented the second generation, post-war children, it fits very well. Hanna committed a heinous crime by abusing an underage child, one that was seriously sick at that. She was self centered, indulgent and yet was ashamed of being illiterate, not of murdering innocent people or taking advantage of a child sexually. This story had nothing to do with love!

Michael's continual references to Hanna's back as the key feature that attracted him----strong and reliable, broad----said that he was a child looking for more than sex, he was looking for protection and dependability from adults. At the trial, he describes how he sat behind Hanna and decoded her back, i.e., she sat straight, pulled her shoulders up around her neck (protectively), and never shook her head at accusations, never flinched.

Because of Germany's continual pride, the World never heard her ask the Jews for forgiveness for the massive crime in which they were complicit. Germans even allowed the SS guards and magistrates to live among them after 1945 when the War was over and the concentration camps began unfolding their excruciating secrets. The author did the most provocative thing he could do when he called Hanna (Germany) illiterate; after all UNESCO defined Germany as the most literate, cultured modern society of their day because of the origins of the printing press and printing of the first Bible, giving their country the advantage of available reading material long before the rest of the World.

And so when Hanna says to the judge at her trial, "what would you have done?", we hear Germany still saying today that they didn't know what was going on around them in the camps----"after all, there was a war going on"----but the second generation Michaels in that very country are numb and ruined because they were violated by grown adults who wouldn't stand up in the midst of the horror. Bravo, Mr. Schlink!
Dakota Shelton

This book is great
This book is great!! I am a sophomore on high school and my teacher recommenced it to me. And I am glad that she did, because it is the best book I have ever read. The boy Micheal is the greatest kid lots of manners and all. And Hanna is a nice Woman with a lot of character. I love this book and I recommend it to anyone who likes to read. It will keep you interested you will not want to put it down.

The Reader
This is one of the best books I have ever read. My friend told me to read it. At first I was getting confused, but then I fell in love with it!!

I found "The Reader" to be fascinating.There were several themes in the storyline. Obviously, postwar Germany and the retributions of the Holocaust. Older woman having a sexual relationship with a young teenager. A teenage life affected by a secret relationship.

Hannah has a secret past and disability which cripples her to the point where she tries to keep an emotional distance from her lover and the people around her

The teenager has this love affair with Hannah which he must keep secret from everyone. He keeps himself at a distance from his contemporary friends and later with his wife and daughter. He divorces his wife and never marries again.

The ending seemed so real. It was perfect.

Gave readers a lot to think about in terms of relationships.
Karmell Spreng

The Reader Review by Karmell Spreng
The Reader, by Bernhard Schlink, is a contemporary fiction novel. It is basically an autobiographical novel about a teenager who is with an older woman who suddenly just goes away but they meet again years later when the boy is a law student visiting a trial about war crimes.

This novel has a couple different themes such as love, betrayal, and guilt. The theme of love and betrayal is between many of the characters through out the novel. I also feel that guilt is between several characters as well, which makes it a good book. Having themes such as love, betrayal, and guilt kind of makes it easier to get you into the book because it makes you wonder what will come of certain instances in the novel and how things will turn out in the end.

At first this book seems to be just a book about two people in love and things that could occur to anyone. The further you get into the book, and after knowing that it is taken place in post war Germany, you start to get the Holocaust twist of this book and it gets really good.

The character’s personalities throughout the book are very interesting and very easy to follow and what they do and say kind of leads to what comes of the rest of the book. Also how the author wrote this novel and how he made the characters made the whole book itself very easy to read and I liked how the writing style was in this book.

If you enjoy a good book you will like reading this novel. If you enjoy stories about the Holocaust I think you would love this novel. And lastly if you enjoy a book that has truth and real life events that is so suspenseful you can not put it down I hope you choose to read this novel. Before I read this book I was told that it was good and that I would like it. Now I would like to tell others to read it because I feel that it was a very good book and I would definitely recommend it to others and I would read it again myself.
Chelsey Slusser

The Reader
There are several themes corresponding in the book. The first theme the reader picks up on is love and betrayal between Hanna and Michael. The second is guilt which is seen through out the entire book. Last is illiteracy which is brought up in the beginning but the reader doesn’t figure it out until the trial.

The novel’s genre is like a mystery of Hanna’s life, an adventure through Michael’s life and a romance due to their affair. The book is like a mystery because the reader, along with Michael, wonders why Hanna went away and what her secret and her past is.

I really enjoyed the book and would definitely read it again. If you enjoy learning about the Holocaust, you will like this book even though its fiction. The Reader is a great read and keeps you thinking. I hope you enjoy it as much as I!
[This review has been edited to remove plot spoilers]

The Reader-Final Review
You would think that because I have grown up in a small farm town in Ohio, it would be difficult to envision what life looked like in a shabby German city years after the Holocaust. Not while reading The Reader. The way that Bernard Schlink wrote this book made me feel like I was seeing everything through the eyes of main characters Michael Berg and Hanna Schmidt. I saw in my mind the growing love connection of two unlike people and felt the disappointment and heartbreak that both experienced as secrets were unveiled in a surprising manner.

What I loved most about his book is the fact that even though it was set in Germany- a place whose history is packed with betrayal, hate, war and unforgiving acts- the connection between Hanna and Michael somehow still lingers underneath everything.

In a situation where two characters have been deeply hurt by each other and by past experiences, the question of whether their connection can be re-kindled is totally up in the air. If you want to feel the connection between these characters and see how they end up at the end of The Reader, then you definitely need to read the book!

[This review has been edited for length and to remove plot spoilers]

The book was AMAZING. So simple but yet the issues raised are complex. Also the ideas of the first genration and the second genration after the war...how the war made the people of both genration suffer. Eventhough the second generation wasn't in the war but it sufferned iin differnt ways. Quite amazing...the ideas raised in here are no where found. This book can really take you back to that time and experince and feel the things which the first and the second genration did.

Support BookBrowse

Join our inner reading circle, go ad-free and get way more!

Find out more

Top Picks

  • Book Jacket: The Ascent
    The Ascent
    by Adam Plantinga
    Adam Plantinga's brilliant debut novel, The Ascent, introduces readers to former Detroit police ...
  • Book Jacket: The Curse of Pietro Houdini
    The Curse of Pietro Houdini
    by Derek B. Miller
    Derek B. Miller's sixth novel, The Curse of Pietro Houdini, opens in the town of Cassino, Italy, in ...
  • Book Jacket: Our Moon
    Our Moon
    by Rebecca Boyle
    In Our Moon: How Earth's Celestial Companion Transformed the Planet, Guided Evolution, and Made Us ...
  • Book Jacket: Neighbors and Other Stories
    Neighbors and Other Stories
    by Diane Oliver
    The history of American segregation, along with changes to it in the 1960s, is sometimes taught and ...

BookBrowse Book Club

Book Jacket
Mockingbird Summer
by Lynda Rutledge
A powerful and emotional coming-of-age novel set in the 1960s by the bestselling author of West with Giraffes.

Members Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    by Roxana Robinson

    An engrossing exploration of the vows we make to one another and what we owe to others and ourselves.

  • Book Jacket

    Strong Passions
    by Barbara Weisberg

    Shocking revelations of a wife's adultery in 19th New York explode in an incendiary trial exposing the upper-crust and its secrets.

Win This Book
Win The Cleaner

The Cleaner
by Brandi Wells

Rarely has cubicle culture been depicted in such griminess or with such glee."
PW (starred review)



Solve this clue:

I Wouldn't T H W A T-F P

and be entered to win..

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.