Author Essay Good for Book Clubs

Jenni Fagan on “the Girl with a Shark’s Heart”: NPR Interview

“I was interested in developing in a character . . . who’s uncomfortable to be around sometimes but that you’re very compelled by.”

In her NPR interview, novelist Jenni Fagan admits that her heroine Anais is “the girl with a shark’s heart.”

“She’s a contradiction of things. And that’s what I was interested in developing in a character, you know, somebody who doesn’t just fit neatly into boxes, somebody who’s uncomfortable to be around sometimes but that you’re very compelled by. And I’m always fascinated by writers who manage to do that with protagonists, and I think it’s very interesting.”

Your Reading Life Good for Book Clubs

Sometimes a Lady Is in the Mood for a Fairytale

I wanted new romance, with fresh obstacles to overcome! I wanted the happily ever after, and I wanted it now.

“Disney cartoons didn’t cut it anymore,” remembers Emily Ansara Baines. “Belle danced with Beast. Ariel sang to Eric. Jasmine and Aladdin took their magic carpet ride. A kid could re-watch those movies on VHS only so many times.

That’s when my mother introduced me to Mary Stewart. The few people familiar with the works of British novelist Mary Stewart know her by her popular Merlin trilogy. (The Crystal Cave is still on many middle school reading lists.) But those were not the novels my mother showed me after knocking on my door late one night.”

Your Reading Life Good for Book Clubs

Giving It Away or Keeping It on the Shelves

There are two basic options for what to do with a book once it’s finished: place it back on the bookshelf or pass it on to someone else.

“‘Kill your darlings,’” a phrase made famous by Faulkner and the college literary classes that followed, is meant as a nod to the emotional process of editing,” observes Rachel Goldberg. “But those of us who have given away a novel that so deeply touched us know it can apply to a book collection as well.”

What about you? Do you pass on your books or keep them on the shelves? How do you decide?

Giveaways Good for Book Clubs

Winners Announced: Save Yourself

Congrats to Carol S., Barbara A., Alicia B., Adele J., Kelly C., and 195 other members of the Read It Forward community!

Their entries were selected at random to win an Advance Reader’s Copy of Kelly Braffet’s debut thriller Save Yourself.

Make sure you’re subscribed at the top of this page. You’ll get an exclusive email from us every week with info on how to enter our members-only Read It First giveaways.

Meanwhile, why not click around and get your first look at the next great book!

Your Reading Life Good for Book Clubs

To Bookmark or Not to Bookmark?

“I don’t use bookmarks,” admits RIF editor Kira Walton. “I have nothing against them, I just never got in the habit.”

Here’s what I do: when I’m done reading, I glance at the paragraph I just finished and then I close my book. When I come back, I flip through the pages until I find that paragraph. It usually takes me a while to find my spot.

My husband thinks I’m crazy. “Here,” he’ll say as he watches me for the thousandth time, “use this scrap of paper as a bookmark!” I always tell him, “no thanks, I got it….” as I page aimlessly through my book.

Your Reading Life Good for Book Clubs

Welcome to Jurassic Park … and to Reading: Movie Adaptations Create Voracious New Readers

Eight-year-old Emily Ansara Baines couldn’t wait for her dad to read Jurassic Park to her. So she read it herself, and Emily the Reader was born.

It was 1993, and Steven Speilberg’s movie adaptation of Michael Crichton’s Jurassic Park was due in theaters in a month. I was eight years old and obsessed: my girlfriends and I watched as many Jurassic Park commercials as we could tape on our VHS player. In our backyards we each took turns playing paleontologist. We begged our parents to let us see the movie.

“You know,” my father said one night as I rattled on about stegosauruses, “you could always read the book.”

Your Reading Life Good for Book Clubs

What to Expect When You’re Dating a Bestselling Author

Ever wondered what it would be like to date a bestselling author? You might be surprised to find out he’s nothing like his books.

“Samuel just seemed like a normal guy,” reveals Rachel Goldberg, “not the archetype of a writer.”

“My fantasies were quickly evaporating—the ones where I’m whisked away to a villa in Spain where he bangs on a typewriter and wears a bowtie while I swim in a pool of dolphins and eat olives forever. I’ll admit my image of the writerly lifestyle was unrealistic. It was clear that this diehard Knicks fan was not going to be that guy.”

Your Reading Life Good for Book Clubs

Fun Reading for Recent Grads: Part Five

The final chapter of an irreverent guide crafted especially for recent grads looking to reintegrate with a society of readers.

“Ah, the dark arts of graduate school literary studies,” observes Anderson Evans. “You didn’t do it for the money, you did it for the Proust. Oh, no? You went the Shelley route? Ah, thought you were taking the easy way out with Frankenstein . . . . Now join a Dean Koontz book club, and when you get to his Frankenstein series, be the smartest one in the room with honest-to-goodness credentialed insight!”

Part Five of Five. Share with a recent grad in your life!