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The Old Man Who Read Love Stories

3.89  ·  Rating details ·  12,101 ratings  ·  951 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 3.89  · 
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 ·  12,101 ratings  ·  951 reviews

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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

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. Its 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, exile.....its 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
Aug 10, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, prose, chilian, 4-star
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
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: 2010, finished
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,
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 ...more
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.
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.
Reina Evangelia
Apr 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
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.
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.
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 ...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.
Bob Lopez
Jul 29, 2017 rated it really liked it
Quick plotty novel about an old man that just wants to sit and read his books! Set in an Amazonian forest in small village, the majority of the plot concerns a grief-stricken ocelot hunting men after one of those men stole her cubs and injured the male ocelot. Great book.
Tiago Cardoso
Jan 22, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5 ...more
Oct 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Beautiful. Fable-like. Teasing off human's greed & ignorance brought by colonialism at large, an epic of old man & the forest at heart.
May 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Luis Sepulveda is one of my favorite authors ever. His words completely charm me.
Iulia Sabou
Jan 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Absolutely stunning!!!!
Tracy Marks
Aug 08, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: contempfiction
An original, delightful and vivid novella of Amazonian life

Chilean author Luis Sepulveda was jailed for several years when dictator Pinochet seized power, then was later under house arrest. Eventually exiled, he worked briefly for UNESCO, living for seven months with the Shuar indians of the Ecuadorian Amazon before moving to Germany in 1980.

His highly readable and quite delightful short novel, The Man Who Read Love Stories, is clearly influenced by his Amazonian experience with the Shuar.
Jul 19, 2017 rated it really liked it
A list I saw recently named the most famous literary works by authors from each country in the world. Obviously, like all such lists, this was strictly someone's (whose?) opinion. Curious, I decided to check for the title of the work deemed most famous by an author from Ecuador -- a beautiful country in which I had the privilege of living for two years. This novella was the winner.

The Old Man Who Read Love Stories is certainly worthy of praise. It is a very well-written story about an old man,
Jul 26, 2010 rated it really liked it
Interesting little novella, covering themes of the destruction of the rain forest and the Amazon, the examination of cultures, the joy of escaping into reading and making a place in the world, even if the spot you are in is not where you originated. I found myself alternately thinking of Hemmingway (the sparseness of the writing, the poignancy depicted, and the old man in the title) and Gabriel Garcia Marquez, maybe from the lushness of the land and the depiction of the world. It has the feel of ...more
Basila Hasnain
Sep 22, 2014 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Joti Ghani Talat Mariam
Recommended to Basila by: no one
It was a book my reading-guardian angel chucked at me :) truly out of nowhere I found my self purchasing this book leaving a classic for another time. I dont test my taste nor do I experiment with my reading time but this one- it was gripping in true sense of the word, one sitting two hours, beautiful and enchanting like the jungle. Its the rare read people like me experience only once in a while- I read page after page for the sheer joy of experiencing the quest of the hunter.
Plot cant be more
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Luis Sepúlveda is 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
“It was the purest love without purpose other than love itself. Without tenure or jealousy.” 47 likes
“He often heard that wisdom comes with age, and he waited, trusting that this wisdom would bring him what he most wanted; that ability to guide his memories and not fall into the traps that they often set for him.” 22 likes
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