I rarely read fiction anymore. My time for reading is limited, what with the whole special-needs kid thing (plus, if I'm honest, the Internet-is-distracting thing, a fact I'm not entirely proud of), and I prefer nonfiction. Books I can learn from. Books that keep me interested from beginning to end. Books about real people doing real things. I've never liked mysteries, for example - I just want to know WHO DID IT ALREADY. And yet, I'm a passionate reader, and I do love a good story, it just has to be special. The History of Love by Nicole Krauss was special.
I'm not sure if I can do this book justice beyond saying the above - that this was one of those rare fiction books that sucked me in and kept me turning the pages. It's several threads woven into one big tapestry. It's stories over here and stories over there that suddenly come together in a big A-Ha moment. And the writing. The writing is beautiful. The writing is what I loved best - the stories were fascinating, the characters were fully drawn, but the general tone of the writing was simply lovely.
You want a brief synopsis? A man lost his family in the Holocaust and came to America to find the love of his life had also been lost, though in a different way. A young girl wants to know what's going on with her own family, which has been falling apart for some time. A young boy wraps himself in religious fervor. A man is wracked with guilt over a choice he made years ago. A man finds out that things are not what he thought they were as he was growing up. A woman makes a decision that changes the course of history. And it all connects together, but not in the ways that I ever expected.
And for me, easily distracted these days, the segmented story kept me interested and enabled me to occasionally (reluctantly) put the book down for a bit while I tended to more important matters. In the end, the payoff was totally worth it all, even if I felt like I probably should sit down and draw out a map of the story, complete with arrows and dashed lines and notes. Basically, you need to add this book to your to-read list right now. (And while I'm not currently in a book group, I think this would be a great choice for one.)
I've begun reading Krauss's second novel, Great House, although I've only had time for a few pages. So far, her writing seems to have retained its magical quality. Maybe tonight I'll shut down the computer and dig in for an hour or so.
According to my poor record keeping of 2010, I read approximately 45 books this year. I fell short of my usual goal to read 50, but I also read many, many picture books many, many times. I didn't officially count those, but trust me, I was reading even when I wasn't reading. I expect this trend to continue through 2011...
Happy New Year!