I'll admit that the reason I picked up this book is because I want to see the movie. I adore Kate Winslet, and have heard only good things about the film. I knew the basic storyline, but not much more. It was A LOT different from the other books I've been reading lately!
Here's a synopsis from Barnes and Noble:
Set in postwar Germany, The Reader is a provocative, morally challenging, and deeply moving novel about a young boy's erotic awakening in a clandestine love affair with a mysterious older woman. Falling ill on his way home from school, 15-year-old Michael Berg is rescued by Hanna, a woman twice his age. For a time, the two become passionate lovers. Then, one day, Hanna disappears without a word. Years later, as a law student observing a trial in Germany, Michael recognizes his former lover on the stand, accused of a hideous crime. And as he watches Hanna refuse to defend herself against the charges, Michael gradually realizes that she may be guarding a secret more shameful than murder.
I was sick while reading this, so it took me a little while to get through it, but it was a pretty powerful story. After reading it, I'm even more interested in seeing the movie. The story is told from Michael's perspective, so Hanna's thoughts and motives are a mystery.
Apart from the middle section, which was a little slow at times, I enjoyed the book. If you don't like depressing or dark stories, you might not like this one.