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Why All the Unlikable Characters? A Conversation with Herman Koch

Your characters have been described as completely unlikable. What is your reaction to that description?

Herman Koch: “They are unlikable in a way, but I personally never dislike them completely. I am not writing satirical novels with caricatures of real bad people in them.

In order to write about, or from the point of view of, a character, I must feel sympathy for him or her in some way. I might disagree with certain actions or thoughts, but I always try to understand them. And last but not least, I truly believe that ‘un-likable’ characters are the salt of the earth—they can be funny and make us laugh, or shock and revolt us, but in the end I think they offer a much more ac- curate version of “the truth” than their more likable counterparts.”

Your Reading Life Good for Book Clubs

Why Reread? Because Books Change As We Do

The experience of rereading my old favorites has taught me a lot about how I used to think about the world—and hit home just how much I’ve changed in the intervening years.

It helps of course, that I was (and still am) an avid underliner and so have clear evidence of what I found, and find, especially meaningful. As I tackled for a second time three of my favorite books from that period—As I Lay Dying, Ethan Frome, and Travels With My Aunt—I was struck by the lines that had appealed to me back then, and the ones that appealed to me now.

Why were they different? How were they different? Could comparing my 15-year-old self’s favorite sentences with my new favorite sentences tell me anything about how I’d changed?

Your Reading Life Good for Book Clubs

How They Should Remake Little Women, the Movie

How do you think that Little Women can be remade in a fresh way?

Sony Pictures is developing a new adaptation of Little Women! This would be the first major film version in over 20 years, with newcomer Olivia Milch writing the screenplay and Sarah Polley (Away From Her) directing. It’s about time that audiences are reintroduced to the March sisters, their struggles, and their loves.

But with Little Women having already been adapted for film, TV, and the on- and Off-Broadway stages, how do you retell Louisa May Alcott’s timeless novel without seeming too out-of-touch, too eager to appeal to modern audiences, or simply copying what’s come before?

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Enter to Win an Enchanting New Novel: The Little Paris Bookshop

The Little Paris Bookshop is a love letter to books, meant for anyone who believes in the power of stories to shape people’s lives.

Monsieur Perdu calls himself a literary apothecary. From his floating bookstore in a barge on the Seine, he prescribes novels for the hardships of life. Using his intuitive feel for the exact book a reader needs, Perdu mends broken hearts and souls.

The only person he can’t seem to heal through literature is himself; he’s still haunted by heartbreak after his great love disappeared. She left him with only a letter, which he has never opened.

Your Reading Life Good for Book Clubs

Great Quotes About Reading

“Many people, myself among them, feel better at the mere sight of a book.” ― Jane Smiley

From Shakespeare to Dan Brown, we’ve collected some of our favorite quotes about reading. These authors capture the joys of reading in just a few words.

“Reading was my escape and my comfort,” writers Paul Auster in The Brooklyn Follies , “my consolation, my stimulant of choice: reading for the pure pleasure of it, for the beautiful stillness that surrounds you when you hear an author’s words reverberating in your head.”

Ahh, the comfort and escape of books. Enjoy more great quotes – and share your own!

Giveaways Good for Book Clubs

Fans of The Night Circus and Station Eleven! The Gracekeepers Is for You

A lyrical and absorbing debut set in a world covered by water.

In a world divided between those inhabiting the mainland (“landlockers”) and those who float on the sea (“damplings”), loneliness has become a way of life for North and Callanish, until a sudden storm offshore brings change to both their lives–offering them a new understanding of the world they live in and the consequences of the past, while restoring hope in an unexpected future.

Inspired in part by Scottish myths and fairytales, The Gracekeepers tells a modern story of an irreparably changed world: one that harbors the same isolation and sadness, but also joys and marvels of our own age.

Bonus Book Content Good for Book Clubs

Sneak Peek of The Shore by Sara Taylor

When news of the murder breaks I’m in Matthew’s, buying chicken necks so my little sister Renee and I can go crabbing.

Quite the first line, isn’t it? So begins The Shore by Sara Taylor.

“There isn’t much in the way of food in the house, but we found a dollar and sixty-three cents in change, and decided free crabs would get us the most food for that money. Usually we use bacon rinds for bait, but we’ve eaten those already. I’m squatting down looking at the boxes of cupcakes on a bottom shelf when a woman steps over me to get to the register. Matthew’s is small and the shelves are crowded in; when Mama brought us with her to get food Renee and me would have contests to see who could get from the front door to the grimy meat counter at the back in the fewest hops – I could do it in seven.”