The Reader

  • by Bernhard Schlink
  • Narrated by Campbell Scott
  • 4 hrs and 16 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

Hailed for its coiled eroticism and the moral claims it makes upon the reader, this mesmerizing novel is a story of love and secrets, horror and compassion, unfolding against the haunted landscape of postwar Germany.When he falls ill on his way home from school, 15-year-old Michael Berg is rescued by Hanna, a woman twice his age. In time she becomes his lover--then she inexplicably disappears. When Michael next sees her, he is a young law student, and she is on trial for a hideous crime. As he watches her refuse to defend her innocence, Michael gradually realizes that Hanna may be guarding a secret she considers more shameful than murder.


What the Critics Say

"A formally beautiful, disturbing and finally morally devastating novel." (Los Angeles Times)
"Moving, suggestive and ultimately hopeful. . . . [The Reader] leaps national boundaries and speaks straight to the heart." (The New York Times Book Review)
"Arresting, philosophically elegant, morally complex. . . . Mr. Schlink tells his story with marvelous directness and simplicity." (The New York Times)
"Haunting. . . . What Schlink does best, what makes this novel most memorable, are the small moments of highly charged eroticism." (Francine Prose, Elle)


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful


When I was finished this book I felt empty. I couldn't decide if I liked it or not, however, it continues to pop into my thoughts and haunt me, and that is a sure sign that the book affected me.
Being a second generation holocaust survivor from both of my parents, I was raised with the holocaust in my veins, always learning and feeling the emotion of what my parents, their families and friends went through, one horror story after the other. I never took the time to understand what the second generation German people went through, a completely different perspective.
This dysfunctional "kid" (as he is referred to in the book), who even as an adult could not come to terms with his relationship with Hannah, was full of unresolved feelings and emotion too. Hannah herself could not admit and own up to what she had done. Also dysfunctional. A very dramatic book, which more than once, sent chills through me.
I am not sure if I would recommend this book to everyone. It is different. I can't quite put my finger on why. The narrator was fine, nothing special, but not a hindrance either.
What I will say is for a 4 hour book it certainly packs a punch. Will definitely see the movie.
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- Ella

Not for everyone

The Yahoo group for Audible users highly praised this book, and since it was short and inexpensive, I bought it and listened to it right away. I was not as impressed as some. It's a tenderly told coming-of-age story about some very damaged individuals in Germany, in the decades following WW2. Campbell Scott reads beautifully, without resorting to any dialects, which is refreshing, and the narrative is plaintive but fulfilling. In many ways an autopsy of a society, the novel excuses no one and gives a rare glimpse into the souls of a hapless persons in circumstances beyond their control and understanding.
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- Barbara

Book Details

  • Release Date: 11-17-2008
  • Publisher: Random House Audio