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The History of Love

3.92  ·  Rating details ·  131,050 ratings  ·  11,799 reviews
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 dreaming of the lost love who, sixty years ago in Poland, inspir
Paperback, 255 pages
Published May 17th 2006 by W. W. Norton & Company (first published May 17th 2005)
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Rose Eckman I had a hard time at first until I realized the beginning of each chapter has a symbol for the character who narrates the chapter. Once you know which…moreI had a hard time at first until I realized the beginning of each chapter has a symbol for the character who narrates the chapter. Once you know which character is speaking you can understand, and, imho fall in love with Leo Gursky. I am so in love with this character and this book. Bought it to give to my friends as well. Just thinking, been awhile since I read it, maybe time to read it for the third time.(less)
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Robert Irish
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Average rating 3.92  · 
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He was a great writer. He fell in love. It was his life.

The Simplest Questions Are the Hardest to Answer

1. What is love?
2. Who am I?
3. Is there a word for everything?
4. What sort of book is this?
5. What is a palaeontologist?

5. What is a Palaeontologist?

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 few weeks pass, went back and scoured Fifth Avenue and Central Park for as many
Feb 28, 2012 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
Mar 20, 2022 rated it it was amazing
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.

Simply put, The History of Love by Nicole Krauss is a deluge of beauty and emotions that will certainly burst through even the strongest levees of hearts. This book is like a warm blanket and cup of tea on a cold, rainy day when you are emotionally exhausted. It is an ode to the human spirit, the will to live, love, survive, and create, even when beleaguered by the hor
Ian "Marvin" Graye
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
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
Jul 17, 2007 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
Emily May
Feb 12, 2013 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
Nov 11, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
“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.”

I found this quote from a listicle (please don't judge me!) of 50 of the most beautiful sentences in literature. This one particular sentence left me with a heaping serving of "the feels" and so without a second thought, I chucked the book I was reading at that time and started reading "The History of Love."

A few chapters later, I realized that this was not the sa
Jul 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 1001, us, romance
One of the most beautiful and saddest “experimental” love stories I’ve ever read.

I’ve had this novel on my TBR since January 2014, a very long time. The main reason it stayed there was the author’s ex-husband, Jonathan Safran Foer. I did not enjoy his book Everything is Illuminated and I wrongly presumed that I will not like History of Love either. A stupid idea, I know, but from the description it felt similar. Both are Jewish authors writing a book with multiple plot lines and the blurb also
Jan 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
One of the last books I read in 2017 was Virginia Woolf's A Room of One Own. In this series of essays, Woolf maintains that if a woman has a room of her own in which to write, then she is more than capable of producing the same if not greater works than men. While pondering my 2018 classics bingo and what book to use as a free square, my thoughts turned to Nicole Krauss. I finally discovered Krauss last year, having read both Great House and Forest Dark. The prose in both novels was superb, lead ...more
Dec 30, 2016 rated it it was amazing
"All I want is not to die on a day when I went unseen."

Leopold Gursky, Holocaust survivor, is a lonely old man who dreams of his long-lost love Alma Mereminski and survives each day with the desire to just be noticed by someone. He has one single soul he can call a friend in this world, Bruno, his “old faithful”. Alma Singer is a fourteen year old girl who lost her father and whose heart aches for the mother that can barely get out of bed and make it to the next day - "My mother is lonely even w
Sep 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: set-in-the-us
Leo is the obvious charmer of this novel, an elderly man who escapes the Nazis as a boy and eventually follows the love of his life to America where he discovers she has married someone else. Leo holds the torch for Alma throughout his long life. He has also written a novel, The History of Love, the manuscript of which he entrusted to a friend and believes forever lost. His novel is the holy spirit of this novel. Every character is profoundly affected by it. Leo didn’t quite charm me as much as ...more
Apr 18, 2022 rated it liked it
ive sat with my thoughts for a couple of days before writing this review because im just not quite sure how i feel about the book.

i really enjoyed the concept of the story. i think we can all agree there is power in words, so i found the message and heart of the story quite lovely. i also thought the writing was really appealing at times, as well.

but the more i think about it, the more im convinced the reason i didnt love this is because of the narrative styles. the execution is just a little
Feb 28, 2007 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,
Aug 08, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
Nov 17, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
"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
Jun 07, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: jewish, american
Being Moved

If you like your schmaltz delivered hot, thick and with plenty of gravy, Krauss is your writer. I mean no disparagement by saying that nobody does Holocaust survivor-tragedy better than she. The old man in the empty Manhattan apartment whose pregnant Polish sweetheart had left him years ago for America, and whose closest contact with his son is at the son's wake is tragedy with punch. As is the teenager who desperately wants to reconstruct memories of her dead father through a relatio
Elyse Walters
Oct 29, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorite


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

I LOVE THIS BOOK!!!!!!!!!!
Jan 25, 2008 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 11, 2008 rated it really liked it
How about the history of me bawling my face off.

This book is all about words – words written, words unwritten, words spoken, words unspoken, words imagined, words deleted, words carried, words discarded, words believed, words treasured. And why wouldn’t it be? At the heart of this book, is the book ‘The History of Love’ and its author, and his many intended and unintended recipients.

Does that make the book complex? Oh no, no; it makes it magical. Magic, as I see, is a beautiful truth suddenly broken to us. And in Krauss’ tale, she doe
Dec 28, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: public-library
Some of the writing in this is too beautiful for words.  And yet, it is clearly all about the words, always.  Lost words, thrown away words, and "the crime of silence".  A first true love, broken pride, a man who thought he was made of glass, a sightless photographer, the loneliness of becoming invisible.  A search for one thing segues into something else entirely.  It will make you contemplate the sadness and loss of an unread book. ...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."

The many and varied threads of this story are woven around a book called A History of Love and lead eventually to a complicated, satisfying conclusion. Not a happily-ever-after ending, but one that answered the important questions for me.

Leo Gursky is an old Jewish immigrant living alone in New York. He reminisces about his childhood in Poland where he wrote countless stories, and he now has a manuscript in a box in his oven. He remembers the last time he saw his mother, when she’d sent him in
Florence (Lefty) MacIntosh
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 loss ...more
Algernon (Darth Anyan)
Apr 10, 2013 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
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 bo
Feb 03, 2016 rated it it was amazing

My review of this wonderful book is HERE .

What follows below is not a review. This page is a collection of lists about the story, characters, and themes, showing the many and complex connections between them, but without any emotional response or analysis.

It is almost entirely made up of spoilers, so don't read it if you have not read the book - and maybe not even then.

(view spoiler)
Jun 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Life is unfair, life is cruel, that should be the lesson taken away by Leo Gursky, a Polish Holocaust survivor, but the lesson he seems to have taken instead is that once there was love and that is sometimes enough. His love centers around the girl he loved in Poland, Alma Mereminski, the woman for whom he wrote a book, The History of Love.

This book influences a number of lives, including that of a young girl who is also named Alma because her father found the book in a store in Buenos Aires and
Jr Bacdayan
Jul 14, 2016 rated it really liked it
'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.'

This might be one of the most beautiful sentences in the arsenal of the english language. Actually, I came upon this sentence in one of those click bait online articles entitled '50 Of The Most Beautiful Sentences In Literature.' Not a dignified source, I admit. Nevertheless the list was composed of greats such as Solzhenitsyn, Plath, Maugham, Eliot, Garcia Marquez,
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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

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