Bonus Book Content Good for Book Clubs

“A Book Is Already Finished Once I’ve Come Up with the First Sentence,” Says Herman Koch

When I start writing, I don’t have the entire book laid out in my mind. I never draw up outlines either. On the contrary: I sit down at my desk each morning, curious to see what’s going to happen next. Just like the reader.

“For me, a book is already finished once I’ve come up with the first sentence. Or rather: the first two sentences,” admits internationally bestselling novelist Herman Koch.

“Those first two sentences contain everything I need to know about the book. I sometimes call them the book’s “DNA.” As long as every sentence that comes afterward contains that same DNA, everything is fine.”

Your Reading Life Good for Book Clubs

Getting Kids to Read the Book When They’ve Already Seen the Movie

Reading a book allows for something that watching a film does not: your own unique version of the story.

“I want to share the magic of books with my 10-year-old stepdaughter,” writes Kira Walton. “The way a book is a window to the world, the way a book – unlike a film – invites you to use your imagination to create the story in your mind.

When my stepdaughter and I go to the library, I recommend some of my favorites from when I was her age: The Secret Garden, Anne of Green Gables, The Chronicles of Narnia, A Wrinkle in Time. Her response to all of them? ‘I’ve seen the movie, I don’t need to read the book.’ RIFers, I need your help!”

Giveaways Good for Book Clubs

Jack Nicholson and Michael Douglas “Found Each Other Through the Movies”

Both were drawn to show business; Michael as a way to please his father, Jack as a way to escape his working-class invisible prison.

“The two subjects of my latest biographies have some surprising similarities and some sharp differences,” reveals bestselling celebrity biographer Marc Eliot. “Michael came from royalty, literally and figuratively. His mother was descended from the founders of Bermuda, and his father was cinematic great Kirk Douglas. Jack came from working class people in Southern New Jersey.

Michael had a difficult time living up to the legend of his father; Jack was never really sure for the longest time (and still is not) who is father actually was.”

Giveaways Good for Book Clubs

“Beautifully Written and Totally Fascinating to Me” Says Alice Waters

“I am in southern France, and it is December, 1970 and I am 62½ years old, white, female, and apparently determined to erect new altars to old gods, no matter how unimportant all of us may be,” M.F.K. Fisher wrote in her journal.

“The ‘old gods’ were French, of course,” writes Luke Barr, great-nephew of M.F.K. Fisher and author of Provence, 1970.

“They were the gods of food and pleasure, of style and good living, of love, taste, and even decadence . . . . [S]he was now embarked on a new one. This notebook would serve as the site of her daily communion with France.”

Your Reading Life Good for Book Clubs

Banned Books: a Lot of It Comes Down to Sex

Reading formerly banned books, you become a literary scavenger of the past—it’s impossible to read these works without analyzing the time from which they came.

“I found Lady Chatterley’s Lover to be far from egregious,” admits Rachel Goldberg. “There were so many poignant and touching moments, and a looming commentary on social expectations and oppressive, systemic class dynamics. I found it funny. I found it heartbreaking. I found it sexy. What’s not to love?

Pushing boundaries is one of literature’s greatest legacies.”

Your Reading Life Good for Book Clubs

“Without Banned Books, I Wouldn’t Be Me”

Banned Books Week comes along and we realize: maybe we haven’t made that much progress, after all.

“My mom and I are fans of historical drama series,” says Emily Ansara Banies. “The more ornate the costumes, the better. Sharing a bottle of wine, we watch shows like Downton Abbey or Mad Men, and at moments of intense racism or sexism turn to each other and shake our heads.

‘Thank goodness things aren’t still like that!’ we murmur, half self-congratulatory, half drunk.”

Your Reading Life Good for Book Clubs

Banned Books: Artifacts from the Past or Reliable Indicators of True Greatness?

Any book about kinky sex which can elicit such dramatically opposing set of responses from two generations of women surely deserves my concentration.

“It all happened over a course a single day,” remembers Julia Serebrinsky, “A lunch when a dear friend told me that I must read it immediately because it was so ‘hot,’ and a dinner during which another friend advised that I skip it all together because it was too ‘soft core.'”

Giveaways Good for Book Clubs

Winners Announced: Mother, Mother

Congrats to Aubrey G., Joan G., Christi I., Michelle B., Mary M., and 5 other members of the Read It Forward community!

Their entries were selected at random to win a copy of Mother, Mother by Koren Zailckas.

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.

In the meantime, enjoy a revealing Q&A with the author: “I worried if I climbed all the way inside [my character], I’d get stuck there in those feelings of helplessness. It was a relief to put a narrator between us.”