I never thought it would happen: finals are finally finished. As a junior in college now, it has been my privilege to spend the last four months slogging through biochemistry (also known as “third year chemistry,” also known as “the hardest class on campus,” also known as “the class from Sheol”). There were definitely times when I didn’t think I would make it, but here I am. I’m sitting on my couch (still alive, oddly enough) with my adorable new kitten gnawing on my fingers as I attempt to write this post. Beside me is a book and it is not my biochemistry textbook. Crazier still, it is a book of my own choosing: The Book Thief, by Markus Zusak.
The Book Thief is set during World War II, a time wrought with darkness, etched by death. And while Zusak does depict the suffering, he also shows light and life in a sort of subtle yet blinding brilliance. Zusak, I’m finding, is a delightful writer. His words are gorgeous and fierce and breathing. He finds the remarkable in the mundane. He finds poetry in the dull and in the dreary, and he makes you to see it too. He utterly refuses to be trite or to use old and worn out terminology, but rather creates some of the most original word pairings I’ve ever read. He describes places by colors and describes colors by smells. Let’s look, for a minute, at some of his phrases, for they are most definitely worth a second glance:
“a warm scream”
“a final, soaking farewell”
“a slice of cold cement”
“[eyes] like coffee stains”
“a refrigerated voice”
“hair the color of a lemon”
Like I said, gorgeous and fierce and breathing. And for all of these reasons--and his delightful asides and unique choice of Death as narrator--Markus Zusak is my writing inspiration this Christmas break.