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The Little Book

3.72  ·  Rating details ·  4,210 Ratings  ·  962 Reviews
An irresistible triumph of the imagination more than thirty years in the making, The Little Book is a breathtaking love story that spans generations, ranging from fin de siècle Vienna through the pivotal moments of the twentieth century.

The Little Book is the extraordinary tale of Wheeler Burden, California-exiled heir of the famous Boston banking Burdens, philosopher, stu
Hardcover, 416 pages
Published August 14th 2008 by Dutton Adult (first published 2008)
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Rating details
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Sep 12, 2008 rated it it was ok
I really wanted to give this book three stars but I just can't. To me it
seemed like a case of a wonderful idea, sort of Jack Finney Meets John
Irving, coming unfortunately to someone who just doesn't have the skill or
the ease to realize it effectively. The writing itself is perfectly sound
and literate, but for me the author didn't have the command to carry off his
ridiculously complicated structure - featuring multiple narrative lines,
multiple time periods, and constantly changing angles of view,
Susan I
Oct 07, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I wanted so much to like it, to get all caught up in it. I kept reading cause I thought there would come a resolution of voices, historical characters intermingled with fictional ones, some reason to have gotten to the end. But when the end came I was so glad to put the book down. I wanted to explore time travel, especially to fin de siecle Vienna, a glorious, vibrant time and place. But I just kept getting bogged down. Stray, competing lines of thought crossed and recrossed constantly. The wri ...more
Nov 30, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: anyone who liked the time traveler's wife
Do you like stories about love, music, and time travel? Do you enjoy a dash of celebrity and a sprinkling of intertwining history? Are you inspired by creative teachers and talented storytellers? If the answer is yes, you should read this book!

I began this book somewhat apprehensively (not always sure about the time travel aspect), but soon embraced it wholeheartedly. It was a lovely story to be swept away with and I really liked the settings of Boston and Vienna. As I proceeded through the boo
Sep 22, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: people who liked The Time Traveler's Wife
First of all, BEWARE of reviews that give away too much of this plot (that's you, amazon!) because it will ruin your reading to know too many of the intricate details of this novel. I'm intentionally vague below because key plot elements were given away in some reviews I read.

The time-travel aspect makes you think it's sci-fi, but it's really more of historical fiction in the exhaustive detailing of 1867 Vienna. It also touches on psychology, romance, and philosophy (those who love the time-trav
Oct 28, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: fans of time-travel
Recommended to Darrin by: Lisa
Time-travel tales, as intricate as they are, require a special touch, a unique understanding of cause and effect. As such they are incredibly easy to write poorly and at the same time quite difficult to write well.

There is a long tradition to the cyclical nature of these tales, beginning, arguably with Hans Christian Andersen's fairy tale, The Flying Trunk and continued a century later with Richard Matheson's Somewhere in Time in the 1970s and most recently with Audrey Niffenegger's The Time Tra
Sep 12, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: book-clubs
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jun 02, 2008 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: anyone who likes Time and Again
This ambitious novel felt to me very much like Time and Again. It had a few moments of repetition, a dash of pretention, and occasional predictability, but overall was an enchanting and fun escape from everyday life. The story of Wheeler, former talented pitcher, former famous musician, and former bestselling author, who has suddenly appeared in the Austria of the 1890s. There he runs into some people from his own personal history and discovers a vast amount of true history of his family and dur ...more
Couldn't finish this one. I can't put my finger on it, but the writing is strangely repetitive and it's pissing me off.

This story is written from a woman's point of view (I think?) recounting the main character's adventure (who's a guy) and yet the narrator of the audio version is a dude. I'm all confused. o__O

Since I loved From Time to Time, the whole going-back-in-time story idea hooked me, but the previously mentioned weird redundant writing is killing it for me.
Jan 26, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
This book is the equivalent of that new kid that came to your high school half way through the semester...really cool, really mysterious...and once you get to know him REALLY CREEPY. The worst part is the kid never thought he was creepy, he always thought he was really really cool. This book thinks it is all that and a bag of chips. When really, it's just the creepy guy on the corner wearing a nice jacket.

Basic premise...guy is weird, ends up going back in time, meeting his dad that died when he
Jul 08, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Jackie by: Heather Duncan
The Library of Congress cataloging for this book is: 1. Rock musician--fiction. 2. Time travel--fiction. 3.Vienna(Austria)--fiction. 4. Austria--History--1867-1918--Fiction. And it is definitely all of those things. But it's SOOOOOOOOO much more. This book tells a story that keeps looping back upon itself and back upon itself and back upon itself. It introduces us to the likes of Freud and Samuel Clemens, Hitler and the Empress of Vienna. It's a history lesson and a brilliant work of science fic ...more
Sep 04, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Dilly Burden was a legend and a hero. He excelled at his Boston boys' school and at Harvard, was a star baseball player and gave his life in World War II when he was tortured and killed by the Gestapo in France. His only son, Wheeler, has no memory of his Dad but has spent his life living up to the legend.

Where Dilly was an icon, Wheeler is more eccentric. He followed in his father's footsteps to the Boston boys' school and despite guidance from a much beloved teacher, the Haze, (who had also ta
Mar 09, 2011 rated it liked it
For all the hype, I expected so much more from this book. It's about time travel, psychoanalysis, and there's a goopy, unrealistic, annoying love story thrown in. None one of these aspects is done well.
The time travel bit isn't detailed enough to be believable and the characters who do travel back to Vienna in 1897 aren't believable either since they don't struggle or ask enough "why" questions of themselves.
The psychoanalysis is tedious, mostly because it is tied up in the love story. The love
Nov 15, 2008 rated it did not like it
Shelves: abandoned
So far this isn't looking promising. I'm only on page 16, but have had no problem putting it down multiple times already. There's a lot of "if he had only known then what he knew later" talk in it. That's already becoming irritating.

I'll give the book until page 50. If it doesn't grab me by then, it's outta here.

ETA: At page 54, I'm done. I don't care about anyone in the book. I was beat over the head with the "if he had only known" SEVEN times in the first 22 pages. I can read, therefore, I ge
Sep 23, 2009 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Those who enjoy historical fiction.
Recommended to Brent by: Lyndi Drews
Shelves: fiction, history
After polishing off The Time Traveler's Wife, I had The Little Book recommended to me since it was also a story of relationships and time travel.

This time, though, our hero, Wheeler Burden, gets to stay in one place: turn-of-the-century Vienna. I'll leave you to discover the circumstances behind his arrival, but what I can tell you is he gets to meet, along with Sigmund Freud and Mark Twain, a father he never knew and a grandfather he wished he never met. The characters are well-constructed, and
Oct 03, 2009 rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jan 07, 2014 rated it it was ok
The title of “The Little Book” doesn’t speak to a preference for subtlety. Our hero is a Harvard-educated, no hitter–throwing, rock star best-selling author who finds himself transported back to Vienna circa 1897. There he falls right in with the cream of the young art scene, schools Sigmund Freud on his own revolutionary theories, inherits a crown jewel from the queen herself, ponders killing a young Hitler and yes, even gets a game of catch in with his dearly departed dad.

Yikes. The book, writ
Jenny (Reading Envy)
Dec 02, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Jenny (Reading Envy) by: Book Club Caroline
I'm hoping my book club people aren't in Goodreads, or at least not obsessively checking my reviews. From time to time a book won't be on our official list but people will pass it around because they liked it so much. This is one of those books. So I happily took it home and moved it to the top of my reading list. I read a few chapters but it was about baseball (ugh) and I wasn't pulled in, but as I approached the end of 2015 I wanted to get in-process books off my reading list.

Things to like (a
Feb 09, 2010 rated it did not like it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Aug 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This book is magical. It involves time-travel and really interesting relationship issues. Good read for history buffs, romance buffs and quirky sci fi buffs. Highly recommend.
Aug 21, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The last male of the Bostonian Burdens, Frank Standish Burden III finds himself walking the broad highway surrounding the culturally rich and beautiful city of Vienna in 1897. The perplexing dilemma he faces is that his last memory is of San Francisco in 1988. He vaguely remembers a traumatic event associated with San Francisco, but realizes he must take steps quickly to fit in and find his way in Vienna, a city he knows much about, but has never visited.

His connection to this time and place com
Jill Elizabeth
Feb 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Edwards spent over thirty years writing this book – he began it in 1974 and continued to rework and refine the story until 2007, when he finally deemed it complete (see The incredibly well-written story encompasses time travel, true love, rock-and-roll, turn-of-the-century Vienna (that would be the nineteenth century), baseball, fate, family (lives, loves and drama), mid-life crises, and the vagaries of fame. It makes the reader think about his/her conc ...more
Teri Kanefield
Dec 03, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Oct 31, 2008 rated it liked it
My mouse just hovered over the stars above this review box for about a minute, going back and forth between "I liked it" and "I really liked it." Three or four stars? Did I like it or really like it? I settled on liking it.
It's a really engaging read. The main character, Wheeler Burden, is a sort of mythical American man, good at everything every boy wants to be good at. He is son to a man very much like him. That the author manages to make these uber-men seem believable is a great testament to
Mar 13, 2011 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Paul by: Hugo Bookstores (John)
“The Little Book”, though not an easy read, is a rewarding one. The action takes place in turn-of-the-century Vienna. The protagonist, Wheeler Burden has been transported from the U.S. in the 1980’s to Vienna as he lay dying. (The author has called this movement “time dislocation”.) It is here that Wheeler meets his father, whom he had never really known, who finds himself in the same location after dying during World War II. And . . . it happens that this is the place and time when Wheeler’s gr ...more
Apr 08, 2015 rated it liked it
This book is layers upon layers and the ending falls short. It was overall an enjoyable read, but the worst part is definitely the ending; it did not live up to the rest of the story.
I appreciate the author's self-awareness in writing in the cliches of typical time travel stories and twisting them. For example: Wheeler has a relationship with his grandmother, but doesn't become his own grandfather. Instead you're thrown off by the fact that no one in the family is truly related to Frank Burden
I have cursed myself for years, after I loaned this book out and it never found its way back to me. This unexpected gem was found in a bunker of discounted books, back in the days when I was still well enough to troll through the book nooks, superstores, department stores and Costco, and when the experience of choosing a book also included that first moment of physical interaction, the one which let you know that this was definitely a book FOR YOU.

The Little Book inspired an interest in La Bell
May 08, 2012 rated it really liked it
Socrates said that “the unexamined life is not worth living” but in this age of digital narcissism, have we made our lives more worthwhile or have we missed the point entirely? What if the reader of family history could enter a loop of connectedness where it’s possible to meet and ask questions of antecedents? Stan “Wheeler” Burden finds himself in this challenging conundrum “perplexed by the confusions of living his life backward”. Does he introduce himself into the events, possibly altering th ...more
Apr 01, 2013 rated it really liked it
Time travel fiction is not an easy undertaking and the time the author took, 30 year to be exact, can be seen in this well written piece of fiction that can have you believe in the plausibility of time travel and the thin line one must tread or bear the consequences of the change that can ensue. The characters created are three dimensional to the depths of the secrets that are revealed through out the intertwining story of Wheeler Burden and his legendary father Dilly Burden. Wheeler finds himse ...more
Aug 05, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book! I will always read any book I can find that involves time travel, but this one was so much more. The plot operates on several levels, dealing with more than just its characters, and delving into the root causes of world events.

The author presents an interesting mix of characters, both real and fictional. Wheeler Burden, scion of a prominent Boston family and college baseball hero turned international 80s rockstar, is transported to 1897 Vienna. He befriends and learns the secr
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Goodreads Librari...: Combine editions of "The Little Book" 2 12 Aug 16, 2013 11:49PM  
The Little Book by Selden Edwards -- SPOILERS 2 55 Oct 06, 2008 09:58PM  
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Selden Edwards began writing The Little Book as a young English teacher in 1974, and continued to layer and refine the manuscript until its completion in 2007. It is his first novel. He spent his career as headmaster at several independent schools across the country, and for over forty years has been secretary of his Princeton class, where he also played basketball. He lives in Santa Barbara, Cali ...more
More about Selden Edwards
“You must learn to intrude yourself, if you expect to get anywhere. One cannot always be concerned with being polite and proper, if one is going to achieve anything.” 0 likes
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