the history of love

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.
—  Nicole Krauss, The History of Love

“Feminism isn’t about making women stronger. Women are already strong. It’s about changing the way the world perceives that strength.” -G.D. Anderson

In honor of International Women’s Day, here are some of my favorite female authors. Always keep fighting for equality. Demand respect. Never back down.

Sometimes I imagine my own autopsy. Disappointment in myself: right kidney. Disappointment of others in me: left kidney. Personal failures: kishkes. When the clocks are turned back and the dark falls before I’m ready, this, for reasons I can’t explain, I feel in my wrists. And when I wake up and my fingers are stiff, almost certainly I was dreaming of my childhood. Yesterday I saw a man kicking a dog and I felt it behind my eyes. I don’t know what to call this, a place before tears. The pain of forgetting: spine. The pain of remembering: spine. All the times I have suddenly realized that my parents are dead, even now, it still surprises me, to exist in the world while that which made me has ceased to exist: my knees. To everything a season, to every time I’ve woken only to make the mistake of believing for a moment that someone was sleeping beside me: a hemorrhoid. Loneliness: there is no organ that can take it all.
—  Nicole Krauss, The History of Love
Book recs for Hufflepuffs!

Gif source | More recs: hufflepuff (pt. 2), ravenclaw (pt. 1 and pt. 2), slytherin (pt. 1 and pt. 2), gryffindor (pt. 1 and pt. 2) | text by @viegsen and @juan-nieves

House traits: trustworthy, loyal, kind, just, friendly, patient, hardworking, dedicated, inclusive

  • FEMINISM IS FOR EVERYBODY, by bell hooks - non fiction - Hufflepuffs care about justice, equality and inclusion, and they aren’t afraid to fight for what’s right. Helga Hufflepuff never stood for discrimination of any kind and for this reason I would recommend this amazing and inspiring work by bell hooks, which presents a passionate theory of feminism sure to appeal to the socially-conscious Hufflepuff!
  • THE PRINCESS BRIDE, by William Goldman - fantasy - Adventures aren’t just for Gryffindors! And in any case, The Princess Bride is about lots of things, not least of all perseverance, endurance and working hard for revenge (like Inigo) and for true love (like Westley). A funny and hearwarming story that could be read aloud in the cosy Hufflepuff common room for everybody to enjoy.
  • A LITTLE PRINCESS, by Frances Hodgson Burnett - children’s - “I am a princess. All girls are. Even if they live in tiny old attics. Even if they dress in rags, even if they aren’t pretty, or smart, or young. They’re still princesses.” I dare you not to cry when reading the story of Sara Crewe, a kind-hearted girl who goes from the most pampered student in an all-girls school to the lowliest servant when her father dies, and stays just as loving, friendly, generous and patient, because even all the terrible things she suffers cannot change the fact that she’s a princess in her heart.
  • FANGIRL, by Rainbow Rowell - YA; romance - Cath is a Hufflepuff with crippling social anxiety. When she goes to college, she has to juggle the challenges of her new life, a bad home situation, a new distance from her twin sister, and a crush on her intimidating roomate’s cute boyfriend, Levi (also a total Hufflepuff). It can be quite sugary-sweet at times, but I think Hufflepuffs will appreciate the characters a lot.
  • PERSUASION, by Jane Austen - romance - Anne Elliot is unfailingly dedicated to her family. When she’s 19, she’s reluctantly persuaded that her engagement with naval officer Frederick Wentworth is beneath her family’s status, and gives up on her love. She spends years being treated terribly by her family but enduring it with the patience of Job. When Frederick reappears in her life, he’s rich and respectable, and looking for a wife, while Anne (at 27) is quite “on the shelf” by Regency standards, but strong, quietly dignified and much more mature than the girl she was. Could Frederick ever forgive her? Could Anne hope for a chance of happiness?
  • COTILLION, by Georgette Heyer - historical romance - Did you know that Georgette Heyer is the inventor of the Toaster Strudel Regency historical romance? Cotillion is absolutely hilarious (it’s actually more of a comedy than a romance, really) and follows Kitty and Freddy, who get up to all sorts of hijinks in London after getting fake-engaged. They are consistently underestimated by the people around them but are, of course, as trustworthy, kind, friendly and dependable as you’d expect from two Hufflepuff cuties!
  • SCANDAL IN SPRING, by Lisa Kleypas - historical romance - Daisy Bowman is a nice, romantic, kind girl who is told by her father that if she can’t find a husband by the end of Spring, she would have to marry the bridegroom of his choice, Matthew Swift, whom Daisy hasn’t seen in years, but considers to be cold, aloof and ruthless. As they reacquaint themselves, however, the idea of marrying Swift starts looking decidedly attractive…
  • RADIANCE, by Grace Draven - fantasy romance - Ildiko and Brishen are nobles who enter into an arranged marriage to seal an alliance between their kingdoms. Just a teeny, tiny, problem: Brishen and his people aren’t actually human. This is a cool twist on the Beauty and the Beast story because both parties think the other is a Beast. But Ildiko and Brishen are both decent people who try to make the best out of a difficult situation and end up forming a deep friendship. If being a Hufflepuff is all about accepting those who are different and not being judgmental, these two are definitely Hufflepuffs.
  • THE BOOK THIEF, by Markus Zusak - historical fiction - Liesel Meminger is a girl who comes into the care of Hans and Rosa Hubermann feeling like there’s not much in the world that isn’t scary or dangerous. However, through the patience, humor, warmth and kindness she finds in her new surroundings -even during WWII in Germany-, she slowly begins to see everything in a different light. This book is filled with tons of Hufflepuff characters that not only see the value of being accepting and compassionate, but of actually following those feelings with actions that benefit those that might need it most.
  • THE COLOR PURPLE, by Alice Walker - historical fiction - Set in rural Georgia in the 1930s, this epistolary novel tells the story of Celie, a black woman that has to live a life filled with as many hardships and heartbreaks as you could imagine. Don’t let that depressing summary convince you of not picking up this book though, because what makes it great is that it’s actually a story very much about the triumph of the human spirit. Celie sees the world in a really moving way, and it helps to show you just how big of an impact empathy and acceptance can make in someone’s life.
  • MAUS, by Art Spiegelman - graphic novel - This graphic novel set tells you the true story of Art Spiegelman’s father, who was a survivor of the Holocaust. Here you’ll find a man that, in true Hufflepuff fashion, works carefully and relentlessly to make the best he possibly can out of a horrible situation for himself and his family. As with most of literature set in or about this time period, you get to see how it in some ways shaped the man he was later in life, but that doesn’t prevent you from seeing just how intelligent and perseverant he always was.
  • THE HISTORY OF LOVE, by Nicole Krauss - fiction - I honestly think this book is better if you go into it not knowing much about it, but I’ll tell you this: it has 3 stories that are linked in one way or another, it’s a book about human relationships and the endurance of love, and it will probably make you very very sad and very happy at the same time.
  • UPROOTED, by Naomi Novik - fantasy; romance - This book may have been marketed as more of a romance but the most important relationship in it is the friendship between Agniezka and Kasia. You could argue Agniezka is actually a Gryffindor on account of the many brave deeds she performs to save her friend and her village but I just think she has a very laid-back, Hufflepuff vibe, and more than bravery it is her loyalty and empathy that define her.
  • DAUGHTER OF THE FOREST, by Juliet Marillier - fantasy - [tw: rape!!!] Sorcha, the protagonist, is very much a Hufflepuff. She is fiercely loyal to her six brothers and her people, and kind even to her enemies. She is really into plants and healing (herbology, anyone?) and always rushes to help those in need no matter their social station or if it will get her in trouble. And when her brothers are cursed she really goes above and beyond to save them, in an impressive display of patience and hard work.

Today was a good day. After being in a state of tremendous anxiety (for no particular reason, as it usually goes) all day, I returned home to my birthday present from my boyfriend and a pile of other very exciting books. This was one of them: the arc of Nicole Krauss’s FOREST DARK. Krauss hasn’t published a novel since THE HISTORY OF LOVE in 2005, a book which tore me apart (in a good way). I can’t wait to see how Krauss’s gorgeous and entrancing writing has grown and evolved in the last 12 years.

My brother and I used to play a game. I’d point to a chair. “THIS IS NOT A CHAIR,” I’d say. Bird would point at a table. “THIS IS NOT A TABLE.” “THIS IS NOT A WALL,” I’d say. “THIS IS NOT A CEILING.” We’d go on like that. “IT IS NOT RAINING OUT.” “MY SHOE IS NOT UNTIED!” Bird would yell. I’d point to my elbow. “THIS IS NOT A SCRAPE.” Bird would lift his knee. “THIS IS ALSO NOT A SCRAPE!” “THAT IS NOT A KETTLE!” “NOT A CUP!” “NOT A SPOON!” “NOT DIRTY DISHES!” We denied whole rooms, years, weathers. Once, at the peak of shouting, Bird took a deep breath. At the top of his lungs, he shrieked: “I! HAVE NOT! BEEN! UNHAPPY! MY WHOLE! LIFE!” “But you’re only seven,” I said.
—  The History of Love, Nicole Krauss
He died in a tree from which he wouldn’t come down. “Come down!” they cried to him. “Come down! Come down!” Silence filled the night, and the night filled the silence, while they waited for Kafka to speak. “I can’t,” he finally said, with a note of wistfulness. “Why?” they cried. Stars spilled across the black sky. “Because then you’ll stop asking for me.”
—  The History of Love by Nicole Krauss
I want to say somewhere: I’ve tried to be forgiving. And yet. There were times in my life, whole years, when anger got the better of me. Ugliness turned me inside out. There was a certain satisfaction in bitterness. I courted it. It was standing outside, and I invited it in.
—  The History of Love by Nicole Krauss