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The Secret Lives of People in Love

4.04  ·  Rating details ·  1,941 ratings  ·  292 reviews
“Simon Van Booy’s stories have the power and resonance of poems. They stay with you like a significant memory.”—Roger Rosenblatt

“Van Booy is a remarkable young writer. Taste, touch, smell, sight and sound, in spite of their evanescence, are frozen for a moment in these stories and celebrated, along with their subtle interconnection, in all the aspects of love.”
Paperback, 176 pages
Published May 1st 2007 by Turtle Point Press
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Average rating 4.04  · 
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 ·  1,941 ratings  ·  292 reviews

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Dec 04, 2017 rated it really liked it
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.
Mar 09, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: chicklit, 2017-reads
The Secret Lives of People in Love is a group of short stories about love. Not romantic love, where tons of people go on dates and fall madly in each other arms near a fireplace, but all different kinds of love. It was unexpected to read about love of a family member, or friends. I really thought the whole book would be about couples, and it was a nice surprise. All the characters, well I am pretty certain, where narrated in a male's point of view, and the ages ranged from as young as 10 years-old t ...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.
Jul 04, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
AHHHHHH! Someone found a way to put it into words! YES!
Minnie Romanovich
Aug 12, 2007 rated it it was amazing
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 acknowledg
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
Dec 06, 2007 rated it liked it
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
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 mo
Aug 27, 2007 rated it really liked it
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
Tammy Parks
Oct 03, 2016 rated it it was amazing
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 f
Dec 13, 2012 rated it really liked it
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 regai
Sep 08, 2014 rated it it was amazing
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
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.
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
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 f
Derek Emerson
May 16, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2010-books-read
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
Jul 08, 2015 rated it it was ok
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
Oct 12, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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
Apr 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A selection of beautifully written short stories. Certain details feature throughout...rain, birds, snow, Poland, music, slippers...each line is a poem in itself.
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 Boo
Dec 04, 2007 rated it it was amazing
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 t
Apr 13, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
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
Shelves: fiction
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.)
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
Beautiful. Simon Van Booy's sentences are, as Junot Diaz would say, so sharp, they cut the eye.
anna (readingpeaches)
this book is so Soft

just pure, unadulterated, overwhelming love, both btwn the characters & for the humanity in general
Alexandra Taylor
Feb 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Everyone
Shelves: short-stories
4.5 Stars

What a GORGEOUS, gorgeous book. The writing was simply mesmerizing. Simon van Booy is an incredibly talented author, to be able to convey so much emotions and fragments of humanity in simple words. The best way I can describe his short stories is that the writing has soul.

His stories are very fairytale-esque, but contain many powerful themes.

It was a short read. I can't say I liked or related to all the stories. There were definitely some stories that stood out
Feb 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
Short stories, VERY well written; I actually loved the words themselves, thought constructed so beautifully!
Apr 10, 2019 rated it liked it
This was an easy read of short stories (which I read for a book club). It was well written and descriptive, but few of the characters were well developed (even within their short features stories).

All in all, most of the stories did not resonate, and even the sadder tales were not that poignant.
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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
“I wonder if things can happen too early or too late or if everything happens at exactly the right time. If so, how sad and beautiful.” 143 likes
“I want to do things for people they will never forget. Maybe that’s the best thing I can do in life.” 68 likes
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