Read It First Good for Book Clubs

Da Chen on His New Novel My Last Empress

“I began to ponder how a man, any human, could be so dedicated. People are dedicated to God or to men. I couldn’t imagine why he did that, so I gave him a different reason – love for a woman. I am not recreating the story, I just loved the characters. So my character falls in love with a missionary’s daughter who returned from China to Andover (not Exeter), wearing empress’s clothing,” explains Da Chen, author of My Last Empress. “When they fell in love they were in youthful angst, they were by a haystack and she started smoking opium. The haystack caught fire and she died in the fire. And ever since then he begins to have a fantasy, dreams about her, and he loses his mind. And then he decides to go to China to look for her incarnation, believing her soul was trapped in the land.”

Read It First Good for Book Clubs

Q&A with Gretchen Rubin, Author of The Happiness Project and Happiness at Home

“Samuel Johnson wrote, ‘To be happy at home is the ultimate result of all ambition, the end to which every enterprise and labour tends.’ What did I expect from my home? I wanted it to be a place of love, comfort, calm, and exploration – but my home didn’t always feel as homey as I wished,” admits Gretchen Rubin, author of the blockbuster bestseller The Happiness Project. “I decided to do another happiness project, and this time focus on the aspects of my life that shape my experience of home, such as possessions, time, body, neighborhood, marriage, and parenthood. The book’s title, Happier at Home, is a reference to that line of Johnson’s. I’m a hardcore devotee of Dr. Johnson.”

Read It First Good for Book Clubs

10 Things You Didn’t Know About Michael Douglas

“Michael Douglas has been in the public eye for decades but how well do you really know him?” asks critically acclaimed and bestselling biographer Marc Eliot. “In my forthcoming biography, there is a lot of surprising new and original material about him.” In Michael Douglas, Marc Eliot brings into sharp fo­cus this incredible career, complicated personal life, and legendary Hollywood family. Eliot’s fascinating portrait of the lows and remarkable highs in Michael’s life – in­cluding the thorny yet influential relationship with his father – breaks boundaries in understanding the life and work of a true American film star.

Read It First Good for Book Clubs

The People of Forever Are Not Afraid by Shani Boianjiu

“Shani Boianjiu has found a way to expose the effects of war and national doctrine on the lives of young Israelis. So her subject is serious, but lest I make her work sound in any way heavy let me point out how funny she is, how disarming and full of life. Even when she is writing about death, Boianjiu is more full of life than any young writer I’ve come across in a long time.” –Nicole Krauss, author of Great House and The History of Love

Read It First Good for Book Clubs

Vincent Lam on His Debut Novel The Headmaster’s Wager

“‘Everything written in this book is true,'” reveals Vincent Lam, author of The Headmaster’s Wager. “I say that, from time to time. ‘Everything that happens to my characters is fiction.’ I say that, too. Sometimes, I say both things on the same occasions, for instance at a public event, or in an interview. Both of these comments are true . . . . I could say that fiction and fact are like two shadowboxers jousting in my novel, or like dreams that transform one into another. And back again! I could say that the only way I could express the way I truly feel about my family’s journey through the Vietnam War, was to make up stories.”

Read It First Good for Book Clubs

Michelle Moran on Her Historical Novel The Second Empress

“On more than one occasion,” writes Michelle Moran, bestselling author of The Second Empress, “Napoleon’s sister Pauline Borghese went so far as to make statements to foreign diplomats hinting at an illicit relationship between her and her brother. But there is no doubt that Pauline loved to titillate. Whether or not such a relationship existed, she enjoyed the power this kind of speculation gave her. By linking herself sexually to the most powerful man in the world, she accomplished what even Joséphine couldn’t: a reputation as the most alluring woman in Europe. A woman whose own brother couldn’t resist her.”