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The Secret Lives of People in Love: Includes the award-winning collection Love Begins in Winter

4.04  ·  Rating details ·  2,041 ratings  ·  310 reviews
Since the publication of his critically acclaimed debut collection 'The Secret Lives of People in Love', Simon Van Booy has been hailed as one of the most exciting and talented short-story writers in Anglo-American fiction. This magnificent collection brings together twenty-four stories by a writer of unparalleled lyricism, generosity and emotional power. Set in a range of ...more
Paperback, 368 pages
Published October 2nd 2014 by Oneworld Publications (first published May 1st 2007)
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Average rating 4.04  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,041 ratings  ·  310 reviews

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Start your review of The Secret Lives of People in Love: Includes the award-winning collection Love Begins in Winter
Dec 04, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Looping, lovely, languid tales of love that don't insult your intelligence or come across as overly sappy. It's quite a feat to pull off, and this author does it with aplomb. I found myself looking at the world with more tenderness, sympathy, and grace after reading this. ...more
May 15, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An unexpected treasure from an unknown writer.

A mash-up of poetry and prose.

Eighteen short stories attempting to shape formless love.

A small book that requires you to hold the reins tight to the chest.

Too much would be lost in this exposition if you were to lope.

No, this is a leisurely amble through small but disparate parks, side by side, at times alone.

Holding hands, barefooted, lightly clad, aware of much that is visible.

An occasional glance at each other.

Smiling, now and again.

A perpetual an
Alexis Hall
Welp. I feel just ... kind of embarrassed?

Because I should really should have loved this. And I tried super hard to love it.

But I, um, I didn't? I couldn't. I desperately wanted to.

Basically what this book was like ... okay, so you know sometimes you pull someone who is way out of your league, and they are exquisitely charming and unbearably clever and unspeakably gorgeous and for whatever deranged reason they've consented to boink you? And you get them home and you lay them down, and you're ki
Sep 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
4.5 Stars

I began reading this in February 2018, and had to set it aside a little more than the halfway point, since I had others I needed to read. I had planned on picking it up this past winter, but life had other plans…

From the first story in this book, Little Birds

’I suppose the key to a good life is to gently overlook the truth and hope that at any moment we can all be reborn.’
’…his words are like little birds that follow him around and sing in his ear.’

From Where They Hide is a Mystery

Jul 04, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
AHHHHHH! Someone found a way to put it into words! YES!
Minnie Romanovich
Aug 12, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Rarely have I found a book that begs to be read and re-read, and then read all over again. But, this one does just that.

It is almost like a fine wine... you inhale (it) gently, swirl it around just a bit to observe its delicate colours, and then take the first tentative sip. With each sip, it becomes sweeter and lingers longer in your mouth.

Do read this book. If nothing else, it will make you pause and appreciate the tenderness and beauty of simple moments, and acknowledge that often-abused emot
Tammy Parks
Sometimes I read a book that is a treasure, one that will stay with me for the rest of my life. This is one of those books. These are some of the most beautiful, breathtaking, and poetic stories I have ever read. There is so much sorrow in these stories, but at the same time, they are quite life affirming. The entire book is a favorite quote, but here are a few that I most loved:
"Memory is like life but with actors."
"She told me that love is when a person introduces you to yourself for the first
Dec 06, 2007 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, 21st-century
This was a very quick, easy read. I wasn't hurrying or devouring the book, and I still finished it in two days. The stories and pages slip away very easily.

I'll start off with the things I like then, hmm?: there were some stories that did work for me. I really liked "Apples," about the Russian shoemaker who plants an orchard in Brooklyn to remember his daughter. I also really liked "Snow Falls and Disappears," which deals with love's abandonment and how a man deludes himself to go on properly.
Jan 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: simon-van-booy
Without memory, he thought, man would be invincible.
Dreams are the unfinished wings of our souls.
It was in silence on the bench beside the bowling green that I knew I would never see Magda again, or that if I did, we would have evolved beyond reconciliation. Without words, we mutually allowed experience to swallow us whole. It was the only way forward. But her absence would haunt me […]
I think living with the absence of someone we love is like living in front of a mountain from which a pers
Aug 27, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: lovers
An incredibly moving and touching collection of short stories, all about different kinds of love and its being tested.

Usually a story will incorporate several kinds of love - friendship, family, romance, and compare the two.

A rather large number of the stories show love overcoming some sort of obstacle - death, illness, etc., but somehow the tragedies that are at the heart of some of the shorts become more hopeful in the context of the love that supports and consoles them.

I actually cried quite
Dec 13, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I discovered Simon Van Booy’s ‘The Secret Lives of People In Love’ through a review of the book that I read. Reviewers raved about the book and it left an impression with me. I remembered it suddenly a few weeks back and so thought I will get his books – there are just three of them – and read them. This is the first of his books that I read.

‘The Secret Lives of People in Love’ is a collection of nineteen short stories. Most of them are about love and loss, sometimes about love regained. But mos
Sep 08, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Мисля, че Simon Van Booy ще се окаже едно от откритията ми за тази година. Удивително писане! Отдавна не ми се беше случвало така да бъда погълната от писането на някого - толкова тихо, кротко, уютно, меланхолично, тъжно, тихо, мъчно, затрогващо, задушаващо, и все пак топло, уютно, красиво и мило и истинско и неподправено. Напомня ми за истории и хора, които съм преживяла и обичам или обичам да си спомням. Напомня ми защо съм такава, каквато съм.

И само искам да чета и още и още. Страхотен автор
Andi M.
Sep 11, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone
Shelves: shortstories
This book is simply breathtaking. It's a collection of short stories about regular people with mostly ordinary lives. Somehow Van Booy makes every simple detail come to live with his poetic writing and astute observations. If you read no other short stories this year, please give this book a go. ...more
Erik Martinez
Jan 16, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2020-standouts
sometimes i find a book and think “hm maybe god herself grabbed a book from the shelves of a heavenly library and placed it within my hands at a specific moment in my life.” if you’re going to read this, read it slowly and in the early mornings. maybe let sunlight fall on the pages! underline every line that takes your breath away. if you are obsessed with love, please read. please please read and hold my hand and talk to me abt it
Reluctant Anesthetist
Little Birds

My mother once told me that I was beautiful,that I had attractive features and bright eyes,that fair complexion was not the only criteria for beauty.I used to sign my diary as Ugly Duckling.I'd chuckled out of relief when my mother told me that.From that day on,I secretly believed that it took a certain artistic inclination to appreciate the beauty I had and the only reason I didn't get many compliments was because people were philistine and superficial.I didn't doubt my mother,never
Bernard O'Leary
I walked alone through the streets of the city. It was Rome, or possibly Quebec. The details are not important. A bird flew overhead, drawing my eyes to the dark stormclouds. My soul was like that cloud.

Everywhere I looked, people had their heads in the same book. The Secret Lives of People in Love by Simon Van Booy. It brought back memories. Gerald. The jam jar. A stolen kiss. Such pain.

Then I saw her. Also reading the book, but her expression was strange. Different. I floated to her side, my f
Jul 08, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Simon Van Booy is a genius. He has created a formula to write the perfect short story. It goes like this:

th/∞m = s

Tragedy times heartache over infinite metaphors equals story.

That's pretty much this book for you.

The problem is, while Van Booy's writing can be beautiful, he often writes in first person, which gives these characters an inauthentic voice that makes for a handful of incredibly unreliable (and unbelievable) narrators.

The French orphan who says, "the key to a good life is to gently
Derek Emerson
I was so taken by Simon Van Booy's Love Begins in Winter that I decided to go to his first collection of stories, The Secret Lives of People in Love. As you can see, Van Booy likes love, which says quite a bit in today's world. This collection garnered praise and gathered fans, but it lacks the consistent strength of Winter. Many of these stories sound like an MFA student getting their bearings straight, and indeed Van Booy says that is when he wrote many of these (and won some awards). Some sou ...more
Oct 12, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I do not read many collections of short stories but this book was one of the most hauntingly beautiful books I have ever read. The stories in this collection are about love.... love between parents and children, between lovers,spouses and the love of families. Some stories are about the exuberance of love and some are about the agonizing rawness of love that is lost. But all of these stories are written so beautifully that even though I finished the book yesterday, I spent time today going back ...more
anna (½ of readsrainbow)
this book is so Soft

just pure, unadulterated, overwhelming love, both btwn the characters & for the humanity in general
May 26, 2020 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: dnf
I’m finding it hard to know how to explain how I feel about this book! It started off really well, beautiful in fact. A couple of the stories had me tearing up as they were really touching and sad but then the stories just became boring and simply tedious i found. It’s such a shame as it had promise and i’m a soppy romantic but unfortunately this didn’t hit the spot for me....
Apr 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A selection of beautifully written short stories. Certain details feature throughout...rain, birds, snow, Poland, music, slippers...each line is a poem in itself.
Jun 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Short stories – a dozen and a half that vary from very good to stunningly moving. The characters are different in each, but each one is quickly cared about. Those that strike home with you may well not be the ones that struck me, but I have no doubt that Van Booy will get to your heartstrings. His insights and figurative language are lovely: “I can hear the future getting into position, like shuffling actors on a stage before the curtain goes up.” I had to read it slowly because the stories ofte ...more
Violette Stepaniuk
What a beautiful, beautiful collection of stories. What makes it so beautiful, apart from Simon Van Booy’s wonderful storytelling ability, is the openness and the vulnerability of the lives revealed.

In the world where collecting likes, friends and connections by the hundreds has become the norm, The Secret Lives of People in Love is a welcome reminder of what it feels like to really get to know someone, to open up and share and dig deep. Like the title of the collection suggests, Van Booy reveal
I read this book as part of the Dangerous Reading Challenge
(http://dangerouslychallenge.blogspot....) and I thought I would read a couple stories yesterday and scatter the rest throughout the month. But! I started reading and could. not. stop. Seriously. I couldn't. I stayed up way past my bedtime and read all the stories last night. The whole time I was moving toward the end, I was begging myself to stop and savor all the stories. I devoured it all while wanting it to never end. This collectio
Apr 13, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Ok so this book literally changed my life! My boyfriend picked it when we were in The Strand in NYC because of the amazingly cute title and when he opened to a random page and started reading a random sentence I fell in love all over again, with him and the book!
This is the best book I have ever read in my lil life! Seriously, I read a section from it every day and will hopefully until I leave this place. I am completely and unequivocally in love with Mr. Booy's writing and if a book could be my
It's been four days and I'm still not sure if I want to slap Van Booy or simply pass him a cup of hot chocolate and promise that everything will look better in the morning.

As you read each story, a total of 18, you feel Van Booy's faith in love fading with every missed opportunity, every failure to truly appreciate the love he'd been given, and the realization that everything he'd ever wanted was tucked away in yesterday. I still have no idea why this collection was advertised as a celebration
Jul 19, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, 2014
I really loved this. It's rare that I read a book that's a collection of short stories and I end up enjoying it as much as I enjoyed this one. I liked his writing, and some of the stories in here are so heartwarming. One of the stories in particular reminded me a bit of a character in one of my favorite books; and I really loved that.. it felt like it could be him in another life. (Very interested in picking more books by Simon Van Booy.) ...more
This was a sweetly intense book, exotic if I must say so. Very much palpable with deep thoughts and emotions, the very subtlety of life. It takes you into lives of different fictional characters and explore the variations of feelings and thoughts. This book is equivalent to enjoying a peaceful moment alone, perchance in a valley or near softly flowing water and letting yourself getting immersed in the luxury of viewing nature in free time.
Jun 13, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Beautiful. Simon Van Booy's sentences are, as Junot Diaz would say, so sharp, they cut the eye. ...more
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Simon Van Booy is the award-winning and best-selling author of 10 books of fiction, and three anthologies of philosophy. He has written for the New York Times, the Financial Times, NPR, and the BBC. His books have been translated into many languages. He lives in New York with his wife and daughter. In 2013, he founded Writers for Children, a project which helps young people build confidence in the ...more

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