Author Essay Good for Book Clubs

Erik Larson is Bringing History to Life on Twitter, and It’s Amazing

Starting today (or rather late last night) one of our favorite authors Erik Larson is recreating history . . . on Twitter!

We love it when authors bring their books to life in cool ways, and this is a fantastic example. Erik Larson – author of the New York Times bestseller Dead Wake will be live-tweeting the last voyage of the Lusitania through the ship’s final moments on May 7th. He’ll be using images and video to bring the story to life.

We can’t wait to watch the story unfold. We’ve captured a feed here on RIF which organizes the tweets in chronological order for easy perusing.

Your Reading Life Good for Book Clubs

Have You Ever Met a Favorite Author?

I’ve only won a single prize in a contest, but was a pretty great one: a dinner with my favorite author, Toni Morrison.

“Several years ago,” remembers Eleanora Buckbee, “Toni Morrison visited my undergraduate university to give a talk, and the English Department arranged for her to have dinner with some undergraduate students. Invitation only, with fewer than 20 students.

All I had to do was email a 140-character tweet to the department head, explaining why I wanted this ‘once-in-a-lifetime chance to spend time with one of the greatest living authors,’ as the email instructed. Those 140 characters were some of the hardest I’ve ever had to write.”

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Miranda Beverly-Whittemore on the Books That Inspired Bittersweet

Bittersweet shares a theme with my favorite books: an outsider longs to be part of an elite inner circle, makes it in, and only later pays the steep price of admission.

“There are a few other trends in my most beloved books,” says Miranda Beverly-Whittemore.

“The outsider is almost always poor; his gateway “in” is often a person or group of people on whom he has a crush (or at least a deep admiration); the paradise he gains access to is, at first, seductive for the reader as well, offering a rare glimpse into an elite playground; and there is almost always an unreliable narrator. But all the outsiders in these favorite books are men! And so Mabel Dagmar was born, as was her ‘gateway’ into Winloch—her college roommate, Ev. Here are the books that inspired Bittersweet, all of them delicious reads which have made my mouth water and heart stop.”

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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?

Giveaways Good for Book Clubs

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.