I first read this book, The History of Love, last summer on my flight back to Munich. I finished it in the seven hour flight and was seriously bummed when I came to the last page that it was over. Nicole Krauss has a wonderful way of creating a story that makes you feel as though it's somehow connected to your own. It's such a beautiful piece of writing, providing endless lessons and perfect prose. I've seen it quoted often, for various occasions--(I love that Joanna used it on her wedding programs!).
Here are a few I had underlined and dog-eared the pages in my personal copy:
“Once upon a time there was a boy who loved a girl, and her laughter was a question he wanted to spend his whole life answering.”
“[He] slipped his hand into mine, and I thought, An average of seventy-four species become extinct every day, which was one good reason but not the only one to hold someone’s hand, and the next thing that happened was we kissed each other, and I found out I knew how, and I felt happy and sad in equal parts, because I knew that I was falling in love, but it wasn’t with him.”
“He ran his fingers down her spine over her thin blouse, and for a moment he forgot the danger he was in, grateful for the world which purposefully puts divisions in place so that we can overcome them, feeling the joy of getting closer, even if deep down we can never forget the sadness of our insurmountable differences.”
“Why does one begin to write? Because she feels misunderstood, I guess. Because it never comes out clearly enough when she tries to speak. Because she wants to rephrase the world, to take it in and give it back again differently, so that everything is used and nothing is lost. Because it’s something to do to pass the time until she is old enough to experience the things she writes about.”
“(Then again, the oldest feeling in the world might simply have been confusion.)”
“He knew that “I love you” also means “I love you more than anyone else loves you, or has loved you, or will love you,” and also “I love you in a way that way that I love no one else, and never have loved anyone else, and never will love anyone else.” He knew that it is, by love’s definition, impossible to love two people.”
“We met each other when we were young, before we knew enough about disappointment, and once we did we found we reminded each other of it.”
“She leaned back and looked at him with something like hurt, and then he almost but didn’t say the two sentences he’d been meaning to say for years: Part of me is made of glass, and also, I love you.”
“When you are young, you think it’s going to be solved by love. But it never is. Being close — as close as you can get — to another person only makes clear that impassable distance between you.”
“So many words get lost. They leave the mouth and lose their courage, wandering aimlessly until they are swept into the gutter like dead leaves.”
“Even now, all possible feelings do not yet exist, there are still those that lie beyond our capacity and our imagination. From time to time, when a piece of music no one has ever written or a painting no one has ever painted, or something else impossible to predict, fathom or yet describe takes place, a new feeling enters the world. And then, for the millionth time in the history of feeling, the heart surges and absorbs the impact.”
“What about you? Are you happiest and saddest right now that you’ve ever been?”
“Of course I am.”
“Because nothing makes me happier and nothing makes me sadder than you.”
“And if the man who once upon a time had been a boy who promised he’d never fall in love with another girl as long as he lived kept his promise it wasn’t because he was stubborn or even loyal. He couldn’t help it.”
“Really, there isn’t much to say.
He was a great writer.
He fell in love.
It was his life.”
Here's what I'm reading next... what are your summer reads?