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The Old Man Who Read Love Stories

3.93  ·  Rating details ·  15,764 ratings  ·  1,351 reviews
In a remote river town deep in the Ecuadoran jungle, Antonio José Bolívar seeks refuge in amorous novels. But tourists and opportunists are making inroads into the area, and the balance of nature is making a dangerous shift. Translated by Peter Bush.
Paperback, 144 pages
Published July 14th 1995 by Mariner Books (first published 1988)
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Average rating 3.93  · 
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 ·  15,764 ratings  ·  1,351 reviews

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Jeffrey Keeten
”On March 1, 2020, after returning from a conference in Portugal, Luis Sepúlveda was confirmed as the first man in the Asturias region of Spain to be infected by COVID-19. By March 11, it was reported that Sepúlveda was in critical condition, that he was in an induced coma with assisted breathing due to multiple organ failure in an Oviedo hospital.He died on April 16 due to the virus.”--Wikipedia

This novel won the Tigre Juan Award in 1988. It was his first novel.

”He could read!

It was the most i
Mike Puma
Apr 08, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013, chilean-author

Briefly: This compelling and efficient novella grabs readers and quickly embeds them within the life of an aging Ecuadoran whose first, and only love, has died after a brief and unproductive marriage, leaving the much younger Antonio José Bolívar Proaño procreatively unaccomplished, as well as, a failure as a settler in a new community. Unable to return to his previous village, “the poor forgive everything but failure,” Antonio settles in the village of El Idilio (the Idyll—get a sense of how th

Glenn Russell

Luis Sepúlveda, (October 4, 1949 – April 16, 2020)

Luis Sepúlveda, a sensitive man, a beautiful man, a writer and journalist from Chile who died of COVID-19 this spring.

The Old Man Who Read Love Stories is one of Luis Sepúlveda's most beloved books, a timeless classic that speaks powerfully to all of us in our worldwide community.

Similar to Hermann Hesse's Sidhartha and Ernest Hemingway's The Old Man and the Sea, Luis Sepúlveda's short tale possesses a deeply moving, universal, mythic quality th
Linda Abhors the New GR Design
Apr 05, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone''appropriate for all ages
Recommended to Linda Abhors the New GR Design by: Fate
Oh, I must have erased my original review!!
This book is one of my favorite books of all times. An absolute gem. It´s poignant, beautiful, simple and complex at the same time. You can read it as a simple story, or you can peel the layers, like an onion.
Themes of ecology, love, solitude,´s all there, with a little adventure thrown in. The most unique of his works, in my opinion. His other novels are mostly thrillers, and entertaining. But this one has a special quality that touches me
When you work as an executive assistant, 80% of what makes the job good and interesting is whether or not you get along with your boss. And I don’t want to brag, but my boss is ze best! When we started working together, he quickly noticed I always had books kicking around and spent most of my lunch breaks with my nose buried in the pages of my latest read. One day, he handed me some stuff to file, but also a skinny little book.

“It’s one of my favourites: I hope you’ll like it!”

Seriously. Best bo
Jun 26, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I start with an apology. I had never heard of Luis Sepúlveda, a Chilean writer living in Spain until I read in El País that in died this year of coronavirus. He was 71. How truly sad for his family. How sad that I did not know of him.

The El País article noted this book was his most well known and after a little delay, as his books had sold out, I finally received a copy.

First, let us start with the beautiful and enchanting cover. Painted by Wolfgang Rieder it seduces one into wanting to read thi
Aug 10, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 4-star, fiction, prose, chilian
The Old Man but not in the sea. Moby Dick of the jungle.
Ben Winch
Nov 30, 2013 rated it really liked it
Should be a bestseller. Could easily have been overpowered by sentimentality but it wasn’t. A kind of murder mystery where a big cat’s the killer and the mystery’s solved as soon as it’s introduced, but then they’ve gotta go hunt the cat. And it’s sad – it’ll stick in your throat. When the old man threw down his rifle and wept for shame I wept right along with him. Maybe not an ‘important’ work as far as the development of literature goes, but for spreading a message of conservation and respect ...more
Book Concierge
From the book jacket: An old man lives in a village on the Nangaritza River. The village is so small the dentist comes only twice a year, to pull teeth and bring books to the old man – love stories, the kind with maximum heartache. This is a story of the jungle, green hell and Eden; of the Shuar Indians, who know how to live in harmony with it; of the machines and settlers and gold prospectors and gringos who have invaded it. Nature, out of balance, becomes vengeful and violent.

My reactions:
May 10, 2018 rated it really liked it
This book was recommended to me by a friend and I went in with extremely low expectations so I was surprised when it turned out quite decent.
It's actually a short novella so I read it in one sitting. The story is sweet, funny at times and simple ( although you can read more into it ).
All in all very entertaining and I would recommend it.
Jun 12, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This is how you make a book that is just an experience to read. Very easy to read, very short, very light on pretentions. Some may find it excesively simplistic: the good guys are good, the bad guys are bad; but I do not think this is a bad thing. I think there is a place for novels with clear-cut morals, in moderation, and done right. And this is a great example on how to do it right. Bolivar is just a great character and you are just left wishing a person like him really exists in this world. ...more
Antonio José BolÍvar Proaño knew he could return to his village in the mountains. The poor forgive everything but failure.

He had no choice but to remain with only his memories for company. He wanted to take revenge on that accursed region, that green hell that had snatched away his beloved and his dreams. He pictured a huge blaze that would turn the entire Amazon into a raging fire.

Yet in his helplessness he discovered he didn't know the jungle well enough to hate it.

He learned the language of t
Il était reconnaissant à l'auteur de désigner les méchants dès le départ. De cette manière, on évitait les malentendus et les sympathies non méritées.

That sentences tells you quite a bit about what you need to know to read this little novel.

Personally, I'm not a fan of the formulaic romance and its clear villain. I'm certainly not, from the comfort of my centrally-heated, indoor plumbing, rapid internet connection, multiple libraries at my disposal, painkillers and antibiotics when I need them
Feb 12, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: finished, 2010
A charming and well composed short novel. It intimately describes the relationship of man and nature. The old man who reads love stories and the jungle of Amazon. His love of reading stories, despite the contrast with the savageness of his life and surroundings, does resonate to me. It shows how reading fulfils a certain, inevitable need of man even in the most unlikely situation. At times I felt this detail simply cosmetic to the story, but I don't mind that.

The real love story that moves me is
Mary Soderstrom
Dec 10, 2013 rated it really liked it
This was taken in Puerto Maldonado, on the Rio Madre de Deus in the Amazon basin. The bustling little city (population about 140,000) is where you used to have to take a ferry across the river to continue west into the Amazon.

But now a new bridge links the two sides, making it possible to go ride on reasonably good road from the Pacific coast of Peru, across Brazil and on to the Atlantic.

Travelling the highway was one of the reasons I went to South America a few weeks ago. A trip like that makes
The Old Man Who Read Love Stories (1989)
Author: Luis Sepúlveda
Read: 6/11/19
Rating: 3.5/5

it's The Old Man and The Jungle,
a slim book that speaks volumes.
oh, the barbarity of man-
killing, marring, raping nature.

an idyllic life's all he wants,
it's The Old Man and The Jungle;
but the mayor demands his help-
for the natives have taught him well.

a grieving female ocelot prowls,
out to get revenge on mankind;
it's The Old Man and The Jungle-
only he understands her needs.

in his Amazonian hut,
Mar 23, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This wonderful novel hovers effortlessly between magic realism and historical fiction. Sepulveda crafts an amazonian tale showcasing a man's deep understanding of the jungle and his uneasy coexistence with it. Filled with lush prose and caricaturesque characters, the plot moves along swiftly. A very nice book. ...more
Feb 09, 2014 rated it really liked it
A relatively quick read but packs a punch about the effects of exploration in South America and its material and emotional costs to the natural and human world. Much like Things Fall Apart, this novel takes on the politics of colonialism, the intrusion of Western values on indigenous/tribal ways of life, and the costs of misreading. The Old Man is a strong-minded, likeable character who attempts to navigate different worlds he belongs to. His insights about the natural world and non-human anima ...more
Shawn Deal
Feb 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
A wonderful story about an old man who tries to escape from the world, and his pain through the reading of love stories. A found this to be a charming and intense read. I will be looking at more of what this writer has written.
Dec 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: transleighteen
I finished this in one sitting with a pot of tea, it’s a simple but beautifully written story about an old man in the jungle. He’s very likeable and there’s an interesting environmental slant to the story.
Stojanka Stefkova
Additional stars for the end which wrapped up the book and its point perfectly.
Reina Evangelia
Apr 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Gabriela Silva
It was okay. I didn't connect to the story and the end had no meaning to me. It was something to read just because I started reading. ...more
sssnoo reads
This is my first 5 star read in 2020. It is one of the last books I needed to complete my “equator-challenge”, to read a book from every country on the equator, this time Equador. I agree with 28% of the raters who also gave the novella 5 stars.

I read literature to travel to unknown places. To experience them through the eyes and words of authors. This book gave me an exceptional experience. The hero, who is as described, an old man who reads love stories, is a unique, multidimensional character
Jane Routley
Jan 27, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: lit-fic
This charming little book is a depiction of the Ecadorian rainforest that is so lucious you can see, smell and taste it. A short little jewel of a book that I waas completely transported by. It pure Latin American writing though not particulalry magic realist and as well as giving a wonderful picture of jungle life it also lets the reader into the world view of South American Indian cultures. I wonder how like Hemingways Old Man and the Sea it is in stucture but I'm not prepared to read Hemingwa ...more
Cristi Ivan
May 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing
The Old Man Who Read Love Stories by Luis Sepulveda is an astonishing tale of solitude of a man who only dreams of love. At the same time, it’s an ode to nature and the way we should live our life in perfect harmony with it.

Antonio Jose Bolivar is an old man who lives alone in a small Ecuadorian village, right at the edge of the Amazonian jungle, on the bank of Nangaritza river. He came from the mountains, long ago, together with his wife, Dolores Encarnacion del Santisimo Sacramento Estupinan
Catalin Constantin
Jun 06, 2020 rated it really liked it
A simple moralizing tale about nature and the overincreasing involvement of humans in it.

The story focuses on Antonio Bolivar, an old Ecuadorian man living on the edge of civilization and of the Amazonian jungle, living the remainder of his life in a simple manner, respecting and benefiniting from the surrounding nature, and finding comfort in love novels brought to him by the dentist who visits the remote village two times a year.

We learn about the past life of the man, his short marriage and h
Feb 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This must be one of the most moving and captivating books I've ever read. The description of the exotic Amazon sceneries are exquisite. My favourite thing, though, is that the author portrays civilised humans as idiotic barbarians spoiling the untouched natural habitat of several magnificent species of animals and you can't help but sympathize with the animals after the monstrosities mentioned. Once I get to a couple more of his works I'm sure Sepulveda will have already gained a place among my ...more
Jul 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
Aside from having one of the best titles ever, this novella is quite captivating and painted a vivid picture of life in the Amazon jungle. A little too vivid for this wary traveler hoping to avoid snake bites and big jungle cats. I loved how the man relished the first words of the romance novel "Paul kissed her ardently" and the author made me truly feel his wanderlust. ...more
Jun 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I would love to read more by Sepúlveda, who died in April 2020 from COVID-19. That his first novel, about an old man in the Amazonian jungle, could so enthrall me, seems to bode very well for the quality of his subsequent works. His writing is spare but evocative, bringing the setting and his characters clearly to life without a single wasted word.
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Luis Sepúlveda was a Chilean writer, film director, journalist and political activist.

He studied theatre production at the National University. In 1969, Sepúlveda was given a five-year scholarship to continue his drama studies at the Moscow University, but it was withdrawn after five months on account of 'misconduct' (he attended a party with a Politburo Officer's Wife, which was considered high o

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