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The History of Love

3.90  ·  Rating Details  ·  94,053 Ratings  ·  8,791 Reviews
An alternative cover edition for this ISBN can be found here

Fourteen-year-old Alma Singer is trying to find a cure for her mother's loneliness. Believing she might discover it in an old book her mother is lovingly translating, she sets out in search of its author. Across New York an old man called Leo Gursky is trying to survive a little bit longer. He spends his days drea
Paperback, 255 pages
Published May 17th 2006 by Norton (first published May 2nd 2005)
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Rachel Heaton It was beautiful….felt a little lost in parts, but, told myself to have faith, enjoy the lyrical prose, and it all wove together beautifully in the…moreIt was beautiful….felt a little lost in parts, but, told myself to have faith, enjoy the lyrical prose, and it all wove together beautifully in the end (less)
Emily If you've read books by John Green or Markus Zusak, then you could easily handle and relate to this book. Keep in mind that it's eccentric--it's just…moreIf you've read books by John Green or Markus Zusak, then you could easily handle and relate to this book. Keep in mind that it's eccentric--it's just as much about loneliness as it is about love. (less)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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May 28, 2012 Jason rated it really liked it
I need to cut the crap with my preconceptions. Although I almost unfailingly launch into a new novel with great enthusiasm like a kid on Christmas morning, anxious to discover what hidden treasure awaits, for some reason I held out little hope for Mrs. Foer’s book about a book about love. Maybe it’s because books about books about love aren’t usually my thing? Maybe it’s because I read her husband’s bestseller last year and was less than impressed? Maybe it’s because I had heard somewhere that t ...more
Ian GalaDali
Original Comments (Pre-Review):

I would like to review this novel more formally in the near future, but to do so I'll have to flick through it and refresh my memory.

My reaction at the time was that it was one of the best novels I had ever read.

Nicole Krauss understands people and love and feelings and she writes about them in a word perfect way.

As a reader, I am prepared to go wherever she wants to take me. I will trust her judgement.

I have recently watched a few of her videos and interviews on Y
Jul 26, 2007 Matthew rated it it was ok
Nicole Krauss is married to Jonathan Safran Foer. They both live in Park Slope, Brooklyn, and they both write clever, critically acclaimed novels featuring preciously innocent narrators, magical realism, and some safe postmodern "experiments" (blank pages, pictures, excessive repetition, etc.) that you'd notice just by flipping through. I loved Foer's Everything is Illuminated, liked his Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close okay, and liked Krauss's History of Love a little less. I'm wondering now ...more
Mar 01, 2007 Sansanee rated it really liked it
Shelves: book-group, fiction
Have you ever felt so moved that it's as if you're possessed? Reading The History of Love was like having my chest cracked open, the words flooding into me.

Some passages I loved:

The floorboards creaked under my weight. There were books everywhere. There were pens, and a blue glass vase, an ashtray from the Dolder Grand in Zurich, the rusted arrow of a weather vane, a little brass hourglass, sand dollars on the windowsill, a pair of binoculars, an empty wine bottle that served as a candle holder,
Jan 17, 2016 Dolors rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Do you want TRUE literature?
Shelves: read-in-2015
Another book about everlasting love?
How many times has the issue been discussed to death?
Thousands. And yet.
This book is about a rare kind of love; a unique one that is fathomless and can only be expressed by the delicate hands of a virtuoso that reveals in the silences between words left unsaid, between the commas and the semicolons. Because an emotion as deep as the love depicted in The History of Love cannot be pinned down by conventional language. Gestures, the aid of several senses worki
Dec 05, 2014 Eve rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites, read-2014
"If you don't know what it feels like to have someone you love put a hand below your bottom rib for the first time, what chance is there for love?"

What a reading experience! I went into this book knowing absolutely nothing about its premise. All I knew was that it is highly regarded by many of my Goodreads friends. What you should know is that right after I finished reading it, I spent the rest of the day rereading and underlining passages and clues I might have overlooked. Did you find yourself
A heart, like the one used to represent Leo Gursky. Source:

He was a great writer. He fell in love. It was his life.

The Simplest Questions Are the Hardest to Answer

What is love?
Who am I?
Is there a word for everything?
What sort of book is this?
What is a paleontologist?

What is a Paleontologist?

If he took a complete, illustrated guide to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, shred it into a hundred pieces, cast them into the wind from the museum’s steps, let a f
Emily May
Jun 27, 2014 Emily May rated it really liked it
Shelves: contemporary, 2014
I tend to be an emotional reader and my ratings reflect that. I finish books filled with excitement or sadness or intense dislike and write equally passionate reviews/rants, often including snazzy gifs to make my point. This is why some classics get 1 star and J.K. Rowling gets 5 stars and even Twilight gets 2 stars - I feel it's almost impossible to objectively judge quality of writing and literary value, so I usually rate based on the emotional effect the book had on me. That being said, I occ ...more
1. What I like about Krauss's novel.

Leo Gursky's melancholy, lonely presence. The sections of the novel told from his perspective are hauntingly beautiful.

Alma's precocious teenager voice. Her voice is less compelling for me than that of Leo Gursky, but still good.

The slow development of the connections between Leo, Alma, Zvi Litvinoff, Isaac, and the book The History of Love, in terms not only of plot but of theme.

2. What is mildly irritating about the book.

Leo's habit of saying "And yet."

Sep 11, 2008 Jon rated it really liked it
How about the history of me bawling my face off.
Florence (Lefty) MacIntosh
Aug 10, 2013 Florence (Lefty) MacIntosh rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Florence (Lefty) by: Shelli Bentley
Great original story. While it is sad its rescued from bleakness by Krauss’s subtle humour and her inclusion of a mystery. A pursuit to unravel the origin of an obscure novel also called ‘The History Of Love” the book within this book that also happens to contain some great passages - the chapter 'The Birth of Feeling' my personal fav. Krauss excels in writing rich believable characters. Switching POV mainly between Leo Gursky, a Holocaust survivor & Alma Singer, a 14-year old grieving the l ...more
Violet wells
The great tragedy of life is this then, our friends are not allowed to finish their stories.

My second reading of this book bore out my feeling the first time I read it. The first two hundred pages are a stunningly beautiful and moving account of love and loss and the stories hidden within stories and then, of a sudden, it’s as if Krauss handed the novel over to her distinctly less talented husband to finish off the book. She ruins it with the fourth of her narrators, the entirely preposterous w
Jan 25, 2008 Erin rated it it was ok
This book was promising at the beginning, but proceeded to get sloppy and puzzling, and then ended in an unsatisfying and unclear way. It's a convoluted plot involving a Polish Jew who falls completely for a childhood girlfriend, writes a book about her, and then is separated from both by the Holocaust. Not knowing the book was eventually published by the friend to whom he gave it for safekeeping, he now lives his old age in New York, lonely and waiting to die. His story is interwoven with that ...more
Sep 16, 2015 Algernon rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2015

"For My Grandparents, who taught me the opposite of disappearing and For Jonathan, my life."

I don't think I have started a review with the dedication before now, but in this case I believe it is appropriate. Words are the way we fight against entropy, against forgetfullness, the way we demonstrate to the world and to ourselves that we are alive, that we have a past and a future. History is the act of connecting the past with the future, and Nicole Krauss argues that the way we love is a better
Beth F.
If the opportunity to read this book in one sitting would have been available to me, I probably would have taken it. Unfortunately my job tends to cramp my reading style more often than not (admittedly not the worst problem in the world to have), but sometimes I can’t help but think about how much reading I could get done if I didn’t have to spend the best hours of my day doing work. Oh well. I suppose that is what retirement will be for.

I really loved this book. The characters spoke to me and
I dedicate this review to the wonderful woman who graced the pages of Goodreads under the pen name of Fatty Bolger. It was her evocative and emotional review that drove me to pick up this magnum opus.

Quoting from the book, I think it is pertinent for me to say about Krauss, what she says about Isaac Mortiz, "To call him her a Jewish writer or, worse, an experimental writer, is to miss entirely the point of his her humanity, which resisted all categorization." The History of Love is not a book
K.D. Absolutely
Jul 30, 2012 K.D. Absolutely rated it liked it
Recommended to K.D. by: Mae
It is not hard to like this book. The writing is stylish. Four POVs with two different settings and starts way back from the Second World War to the present. This is basically a love story between two young lovers in Poland. They get separated because the father of the girl sends her to America not knowing that she is pregnant with a child. The young boy follows the girl to America only to find out that she is already married and the child does not know that he is the father. So, the poor man, L ...more
Jennifer (aka EM)
Thank you to the lovely, anonymous man in the Port Credit Starbucks who handed me the napkins, without a word, as I finished this up not an hour ago with tears filling my eyes.

It was a perfect moment perfectly matched to this pretty much perfect book.

Read this book if:
1) you liked Incredibly Loud Extremely Close, Everything is Illuminated and/or The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time
2) you like fictional, character-driven stories of Holocaust survivors e.g., The
Disappointing ending & trite, too.
I think the plotting is pretty piss-poor. A very convoluted bifurcated structure of telling a story that hinges on a poor coincidental set of facts, and when you really stop to think about it -- you wonder if you've just spent 200 pages reading and trying to guess at two or three patched up facts that hardly amount to a mystery. Krauss has an engaging storytelling style, even stunning prose at times, punctured with welcome humor, but the strands do not come
Teresa Jusino
I finished reading "The History of Love" by Nicole Krauss a few days ago. Here's a synopsis:

"An unlikely and unforgettable hero, Leo Gursky is a survivor -- of war, of love, and of loneliness. A retired locksmith, Leo does his best to get by. He measures the passage of days by the nightly arrival of the delivery boy from the Chinese restaurant and has arranged a code with his upstairs neighbor: Three taps on the radiator means, "ARE YOU ALIVE?, two means YES, one NO." But it wasn't always so. Si
Sep 09, 2012 Fionnuala rated it really liked it
Krauss calls this book the history of love but it struck me as being more a history of loss. It is the story of a displaced person, an elderly man drowning in urban isolation, cut off from his only son and deprived even of authorship of his own words. He is a man who fears that he is invisible and whose only friend is in fact imaginary. Krauss has created an unforgettable character in Leo Gursky. I could have done without some of the smoke and mirrors she felt she needed to create around Leo's s ...more
Oct 07, 2007 Lucy rated it liked it
I've seen The History of Love on several other blogger's reading lists and after being made aware of the fact that the author, Nicole Krauss, is married to the author of Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, a book I enjoyed only a couple of months ago, I made a reservation at the library.

In the mood for a romance, when it arrived, I bumped this book past others that have been sitting on my nightstand longer. At first, I was completely absorbed in the writing and Leo Gursky. I even told Emily thi
Nov 05, 2012 Arnie rated it it was amazing
Great enjoyable book. Seth is right. To a small extent it deals with the Holocaust, but to a much larger extent it deals with some of the after effects of the Holocaust specifically and genocide in general. It was recommended to me by a friend who is a clinical psychologist with an expertise in the transmission of trauma to future generations. Well written.
She wrote one book before this, "Man Walks Into A Room" and one since, "The Great House." I plan on reading both.
Sep 14, 2011 Elyse rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites


I'll read it again!!!!!!

I LOVE THIS BOOK!!!!!!!!!!
Shannon (Giraffe Days)
Nov 24, 2008 Shannon (Giraffe Days) rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction, 2008
This beautiful story is about an eighty year old Jewish-Polish immigrant and retired locksmith, Leo Gursky; a fourteen year old girl, Alma Singer, who is trying to find a way to make her mother not sad anymore; and Zvi Litvinoff, the author of an obscure book called The History of Love. What they each have to do with one another isn't at first apparent, but becomes all too clear and inseparable as you read on.

It is a love story, a story of survival and ageing, of memory and imagination, of sadne
Betsy Robinson
Mar 30, 2016 Betsy Robinson rated it it was amazing
Formed like a grand and colorful impressionist painting, this story of love comes together in ornate jigsaw puzzle pieces—throbbing with old-world Jewish heart, humor, and soul. The writing seems effortless, yet as I writer, I know the skill required. There is nothing unnecessary in the text, yet it is packed: the language, the narrative details, the nuances of personality. I cried convulsively at the end. I’m in awe.

Since I live near where the book ends, for all the people who have read The His
Aug 18, 2015 Maxwell rated it really liked it
Shelves: i-own-it, 2015
4.5 stars

Wow, why did I not read this book sooner? It was absolutely beautiful. And while it was quite short, just over 250 pages, I think that it's succinctness was necessary. It never dragged. And with the interweaving storylines of four different perspectives, it moved quickly.

I really loved Leo and Alma as characters. I loved seeing how the book The History of Love came into play in their stories too. I love the technique, kind of like in Station Eleven, of having one item, like a book, rea
Jan 16, 2008 Charissa rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: hopeless poets wandering in the wilderness
Recommended to Charissa by: fate
This is the sort of book that I didn't expect to like, given that the title seems ridiculously ambitious. But in a moment of optimism I bought it anyway, and boy did it pay off. Nicole Krauss skirts the intimidating topic of romantic love by sneaking up behind other kinds of love and encouraging them to stop leaning against the wall at the dance and get out there and share their groove thang. She weaves together disparate threads of lives until, by the end, you see the vast, beautiful, silken as ...more
Jan 02, 2015 Caroline rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fans of Water for Elephants; those who like child narrators

How to sum up The History of Love? Jigsaw puzzle in book form, maybe. For a book only just over 250 pages, it is quite a lot of story to mull over and piece together. This complicated tale unfolds from the point of view of no fewer than four narrators: an elderly man, Leo; a teen girl, Alma; her prepubescent brother, Bird; and a third-person omniscient narrator. Only because the human characters are so distinct and lovable does it seem there’s not one-
Oct 05, 2009 Caris rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2009, favorites
Beautiful. Simply beautiful.

I'm really at a loss for what to say.

Leo Gursky has been following me around for days. I went to the Starbucks drive-thru yesterday and, as I waited in line, I thought about going inside. I could order a coffee and spill milk all over the floor. I could trip over the New York Times rack. I could spill the free used coffee grounds all over the floor. I could have everyone's eyes on me. If only for a day, I would be seen.

Leo's invisibility was overpowering. He had a fri
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Nicole Krauss is the author of the international bestseller The History of Love, which was published by W.W. Norton in 2005. It won the William Saroyan International Prize for Writing, France’s Prix du Meilleur Livre Ėtranger, was named #1 book of the year by, and was short-listed for the Orange, Médicis, and Femina prizes. Her first novel, Man Walks Into a Room, was a finalist for the ...more
More about Nicole Krauss...

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“Once upon a time there was a boy who loved a girl, and her laughter was a question he wanted to spend his whole life answering.” 8532 likes
“When will you learn that there isn't a word for everything?” 2450 likes
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