The History of Love, by Nicole Krauss

Central: PS3611.R38 H57 2006

The History of Love moved me. It shoved me, knocking from my comfortable existence. It awakened me from intellectual lethargy.

One of the reasons that I love The History of Love so much is that reading is something of a central character. All of our main characters are transformed by reading. The book-within-a-book (the novel The History of Love that is published in Chile by Zvi Litvinoff) influences the lives of both Almas, Leo, Isaac, both parents of Alma Singer, Zvi himself, and his wife, Rosa. All of these people make major life choices that relate to this book. It connects them all—across time and space, across culture and geography, across war and peace, across want and plenty.

Reading is immensely important, for many reasons. I believe reading transforms the reader (and the writer, as well, but that’s another story). Reading not only transports us to places we’ve never been, it takes us to places and times we can never go—the future, or the past, or places that exist only in our imaginations. It also introduces us to people we will never meet, living in circumstances completely off our radar screen, and with points of view we may never have considered. Reading stretches us, moves us, startles us, and disturbs our comfortable views, while it also comforts us, soothes us, tickles our funny bones, and fills us with wonder.

There are other reasons that The History of Love means so much to me. It is something of a mystery, as Alma seeks her namesake and Leo seeks connection with his son. The narrative draws us in as it whirls around in time and space, sucking us into an eddy of questions and desires. And the characters drew me in. I become very fond of Leo and Alma and Bird. Indeed, when I had thirty pages left to read, I waited three days to finish, so reluctant was I to leave behind these funny, sweet, quirky, lost characters. I need not have feared. They will be with me always.

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