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Monday, November 13, 2006

The History of Love

by Nicole Krauss
Rating 5/5
This is not one of my challenge books. I suggested this book for my f2f bookclub and so that means I will be presenting it this month. I felt like I needed to read it again. I am so glad I did. I think this book is beautiful, a literal masterpiece. In this reading I was able to watch for the repetition of ideas and symbols. One theme that runs throughout is that of authenticity. What is real, what is believed but not real, and what is fake. Along with that is the idea of validation.

One of the lead characters is Leo Gurksy, an 80-yr-old single man who says, "All I want is not to die on a day when I went unseen." He spills his popcorn at the theater so people will notice him. He even poses nude for an art class. He is quite the quirky, yet lovable character. He needs to be real and to be validated.

Later, another main character, Alma Singer, writes in her journal, "I am invisible to my mother." Again, the need to be seen, noticed. Alma's father died 4-5 years ago and she's trying to hold on to his memory and she's trying to keep his memory alive for her younger brother so she elaborates on his virtues. What's real, what's not. What is imagined?

When I finished The Book Thief I knew I would be disappointed by the next book I read, whatever that book would be. I thought my best choice would be a light, cozy mystery because I wouldn't be expecting much. But I had The History of Love I needed to reread. It turned out to be a perfect choice. Both books hold up greatly next to each other. I've requested a copy of The History of Love for Christmas, because I will want to read it again. The History of Love and The Book Thief are two of my top 10 favorite books I've ever read and I was fortunate to read them back to back.

25 comments:

Anonymous said...

It's interesting to me that less than a year ago you were adamantly against rereading books, but now you've reread quite a few and even talk about re-rereading this one. I think it's great you've found a book you like this much!!

Jackie said...

I've read so many wonderful things about The History of Love - I'm so anxious to read it! I'm also looking forward to reading The Book Theif. Enjoy your book club discussion! Great blog!

booklogged said...

I know, Aly, I never read a book more than once and this year I've reread THREE books! So if you feel the Earth woobling you'll know why. This book is perfect to reread because it has so many different layers of meeting.

Jackie, The History of Love is narrated by 3 different characters and 4 at the end. It's a little confusing at first, but know that's cool, because you can identify with the characters better. Let me know when you get around to reading it, I would like to hear what you think.

Joy said...

I'm looking forward to reading this one...someday. :)

Anonymous said...

Do you think the title of the book invited the above "comments"?

I've read a lot of posts praising The History of Love and, for some reason, have not felt too interested. Your post has changed my mind, Cheya; I will have to make time for this one. Thanks.

iliana said...

Great review and I completely agree. This is one of my favorite reads of the year.

Now what can live up to two great books? :) I hope your next read is a great one too.

Sheri said...

I want to second exactly want Jenclair said. I've been eyeing this one for a while, but until I read your review I had not been intersted in reading it. Thanks for changing my mind!

sprite said...

One of my favorites from '06, too. And that surprised me because I hadn't heard anything about it when I bought it as an impulse buy at an airport convenience store! What luck!

Les said...

I must get this book! Maybe if I own it, I'll get to it more quickly than if I borrow it from the library. And if it's half as good as your review indicates, it sounds like one I'll wind up wanting to highlight and put on my keeper shelf. Thanks for the great review.

booklogged said...

Joy, I think you'll like it.

Jenclair, it's an unusual book, but amazing. Just be aware that for the first half you may be a bit confused, but that's part of the mystery of what's going on. Don't think, "Do I know this person," because you won't, but it will come together in the end.

Iliana, I can't hope to be lucky enough to read 3 great books in a row, so I'll settle back with a pleasing mystery. It's nice to hear of someone else who likes 'History' because I recommended it to my mom and she didn't like it.

Sheri, I'm betting you'll like it.

Sprite, don't you just love it when you stumble upon something that's really, really good. 'History' definitely has not received the hype that Thirteenth Tale did and that surprises me.

Yes, Les, BUY the book! I wish I would have. I have so many bookdarts marking quotes or important points. I NEED my own copy. With a book that I own and I've marked I love to just pick it up and thumb through the bookdarts and highlights and reread/relive the memory of the book. The copy that has all my bookdarts in will have to go back to the library and I'll lose all those places. *SOB*

Lazy cow said...

I loved Leo too. He's a memorable character. I never used to like books I needed to 'fill in the gaps' myself and actually think about what is and isn't true. If their beautifully written like this one, it isn't a hardship at all!

Anonymous said...

I had been thinking about reading this, and now you've made it sound so great, I will definitely try to get my hands on it.

Also, thanks for helping me promote the podcast. I hope everyone participates, if just a sentence or two. Thanks!

booklogged said...

Lazy Cow, where did you ever come up with that nickname? Surely, it doesn't refer to you?

You're more than welcome, Renee. Sounds so fun!

Anonymous said...

Booklogged, this is on my TBR list - now to just get to it before it topples over! :)

hellomelissa said...

the local library is using this as their book club pick this month... i was intrigued, but not convinced. now i'm convinced! thanks again for another recommendation... but darn you for hooking me on those oulander books. i'm addicted and can't stop. sigh.

Danielle said...

This is on my TBR pile--I really need to get to it as I have heard so many good things about it.

booklogged said...

If your stack is anything like mine, anonymous, than pulling one book out will certainly make it topple! Good luck.

Melissa, sorry about the Outlander thing! I have book three on my list for the Chunkster Challenge. I could reasonably finish the 4 remaining in the series if I read one a month for that challenge. Alas, there are many chunksters vying for a spot on the list.

Hellow, Danielle. When the time's right, I'm sure you will get to it and enjoy it immensely.

sfp said...

Cheya, I hope you'll read The Street of Crocodiles with the Slaves in January. I'd never heard of the book before it cropped up in The History of Love. And I probably ought to reread History of Love as well--it's a fabulous book.

booklogged said...

Sfp, I have it on order so I can read it and join in on the discussion. I remember that Slaves was mentioned in History, but I was surprised on rereading to see it mentioned 3 different times.

Bellezza said...

I bought this book last year when Amazon.com had it in their "Best of '05 (or maybe '06) list in literature. I'm dying to get to it, just like The Book Thief. I think it's time for me to get more reading done! I can't seem to keep up with you, booklogged. You have a magic pace that I envy. In a good way. :)

m said...

Thanks for the review. This is one of my challenge books so I can't wait to get to it! Maybe I'll move it up on the list.

Kirsten said...

Thanks for reviewing this one - everytime I go into a bookstore, I pick it up and think about buying it and then don't. Why, I'm not sure - now I really want to read it!

booklogged said...

Bellezza, I envy you that you have both these books to look forward to.

m, I'll be over to see how you liked it.

Kirsten, Pick it up, you won't be sorry.

Lazy cow said...

Ha ha. My natural state is to do nothing but lie down and read :-) Unfortunately life often gets in the way.

booklogged said...

Lazy Cow, it's nice to get natural once in awhile.