The Most Meditative, Elegant Hostage-Takeover Novel Ever

It’s a new year, a time for resolutions, and mine are as ambitious and unlikely to succeed as ever. Most of them involve perfecting methods of organization that will allow me to fit more work into tinier amounts of time. A year of lifehacks in which efficiency is key, every inch of 2015 will be used for something productive, each increment of time carefully charted out. My days will be like little bento boxes, with appropriately sized compartments for time spent working, swimming laps, writing, reading, yoga, movie-watching, and cooking (sleeping?).

Not even halfway into the month my resolve has already faltered; all it took was rereading Bel Canto by Ann Patchett to realize that life is not meant to be hacked. Set somewhere in South America at a birthday party hosted by the country’s vice president, Bel Canto is the most meditative, elegant, dreamlike hostage-takeover novel you will ever read. When terrorists break into the party and hold everyone for ransom, the worlds of captors and captives alike shrink to the size of the vice president’s living room and for weeks on end there is nothing but four walls and a seemingly endless expanse of time. As the days wear on, restless waiting and wanting become blissful time for reflection, for learning other languages, for listening to music, and for truly understanding and appreciating the others in the house, despite their differences.

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The Book That Made Me Write About The Holocaust

Kristin Harmel is the internationally bestselling author of The Sweetness of Forgetting and the recently published novel The Life Intended. Kristin has also written four previous women’s fiction novels, as well as two young adult novels. Her work has been featured in People, Woman’s Day, Men’s Health, Runner’s World, and…

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Was The Giving Tree a Chump?

Robert Levy is a Harvard graduate subsequently trained as a forensic psychologist. He is also an award-winning playwright, having multiple shows developed Off Broadway. His book The Glittering World is coming out from Gallery Books next month.  In May, the New York Times Book Review’s “By the Book” column asked the author…

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Rediscovering a Fictional Icon

When I was given the opportunity to work with the Nikos Kazantzakis estate on a new translation of Zorba the Greek—the first English translation to be done directly from the original Greek—I knew only of the famous film, starring Anthony Quinn. I had read other books by Kazantzakis, including one…

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Book That Changed My Life

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So many books, so little time.

-Frank Zappa