The History of Love

By Nicole Krauss,

Book cover of The History of Love

Book description

Leo Gursky taps his radiator each evening to let his upstairs neighbor know he's still alive. But it wasn't always like this: in the Polish village of his youth, he fell in love and wrote a book...Sixty years later and half a world away, fourteen-year-old Alma, who was named after…

Shepherd is reader supported. When you buy books, we may earn an affiliate commission.

Why read it?

5 authors picked The History of Love as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?

This book was a present from a friend and I dove into it with no information about the novel or the author.

Many histories come together in it in an unhurried pace, present dots, and let the characters join them. The various perspectives weave and interweave stories and the warps and wefts bring them closer and closer into forming a bigger whole – only to see the knitting is too late by very little.

There are unrecognised talents and relationships, and accidents and serendipity direct the needles. And when the revelation comes, it is to a person bent heavy under…

From Maithreyi's list on striking while the ‘irony’ is hot.

This book has it all: love, mystery, obsession, and a wonderfully fractured structure that fits right in with how we piece together personal histories.

And I love the young protagonist, Alma Singer, who solves the mystery of lost love because the adults have given up. Most of all, I love this book for its ending, which gives a satisfying and hopeful conclusion to the human condition.

Nicole Krauss creates a story that both speaks to and around the Holocaust while never really speaking about the Holocaust.

Instead focusing on the atrocities of the World War II, the novel talks about connection, misconnection, and the power of story. We get memorable characters like Bird, a boy whose nickname means more than his actual name because of how often he tries to fly, and Bruno, named for the Jewish writer and artist Bruno Schultz.

We look at age, how people can feel invisible young and old, but also how we can sink into grief without noticing, embodied by…

From Douglas' list on feeling magical without actual magic.

The shadow of the Holocaust leans over this story, which moves between noughties New York and Poland sixty years earlier. Octogenarian Leo Gursky, now living in Manhattan, once wrote a book, The History of Love, inspired by his love for a girl in his village in Poland. Alma Singer is a 14-year-old girl living on the other side of the city, and the mystery of what happened to his novel brings them together. 

Every time I open The History of Love—and I return to it again and again—I find myself suspended between tears and laughter reading this gorgeous, emotionally-charged story. It is full of heartbreak and humor about an old man, Leo Gursky and a teenage girl, Alma—and the history, longing, and loneliness that brings them together, and connects all of us. 

Want books like The History of Love?

Our community of 10,000+ authors has personally recommended 100 books like The History of Love.

Browse books like The History of Love

5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in immigrants, loss, and Poland?

10,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about immigrants, loss, and Poland.

Immigrants Explore 159 books about immigrants
Loss Explore 109 books about loss
Poland Explore 114 books about Poland