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What Comes Next and How to Like It

3.74  ·  Rating details ·  2,377 ratings  ·  448 reviews
From the bestselling author of A Three Dog Life, which "shines with honest intelligence" (Elizabeth Gilbert): a fresh, exhilarating, superbly written memoir about aging, family, creativity, tragedy, friendship, and the richness of life.

What comes next? What comes after the devastating loss of Abigail's husband, a process both sudden and slow? What form does her lifelong pl
Hardcover, 240 pages
Published March 24th 2015 by Scribner (first published March 1st 2015)
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McKenzie/literarydragon So my mind being what it is (and since I haven't read the book yet) I assumed it was an artistic way of covering up a swear. Like the title could have…moreSo my mind being what it is (and since I haven't read the book yet) I assumed it was an artistic way of covering up a swear. Like the title could have been "What Comes Next and How to F*cking Like It." Obviously that's not the case, but still it made me laugh. (less)

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Average rating 3.74  · 
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Diane S ☔
Jul 05, 2015 rated it really liked it
3.5 I am a very picky memoir reader. Don't get me wrong, I love those that turn out to be interesting, not pity memoirs as I call them. This book is done well and I loved reading this author's thoughts and conversations about everything and anything. The title What Come Next, came from her wondering what her life will be like after the death of her husband.

This book celebrates her thirty-five year platonic friendship with Chuck. I loved her relationships and writings about her dogs, past and pre
Feb 22, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: first-reads
I received this book as an ARC from Schribner publishing.
I am just finishing my tearful first reading of this memoir told in short vignettes, when my daughter Kate calls from an amusement park a few hours away from our house. "Mom, should I get the season passes, they are only the price of going twice? " She is busy, working full time, studying for the MCAT , and raising a seven year old son as a single mom. I know she worries about money and time. In fact they are living here in the big old ho
Abigail Thomas is my favorite writer. But it is a strange, almost incestuous-feeling thing to be reading a book by your favorite writer in which there occurs a scene in which a stranger approaches your favorite writer in a restaurant to tell your favorite writer that she is the stranger's favorite writer, a scene which your favorite writer has taken the time to helpfully write up and include for you in her newest book.

This was not the only cringe I experienced while reading What Comes Next and
Clif Hostetler
Apr 25, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir
This is a memoir/meditation of an older person (like me 70+) that recounts scattered snippets of a past and present life while taking an occasional speculative look into the future.

The author's past life was perhaps a bit more complex than average—at one point she mentions that at age thirty-seven she was twice divorced and had four children. Then a later husband died after surviving several years of being brain damaged from an accident. There is no clear chronological accounting of her husbands
Jul 18, 2015 rated it it was ok
I don't know what to say. So many love fests, but I am not joining the party.  If you want a good memoir for women, mothers, and yes, dog lovers, head straight to Anna Quindlen's Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake, the audio that she personally narrates.  Quindlen and Abigail Thomas seem to have a great deal in common,  but the writing talent is owned by Quindlen.

Ms Thomas also read her audio book and did an OK job.  What I disliked the most was that instead of chapter headings  being  read, they
Stuart Smith
Apr 15, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This book already ranks in the top 20 most beautiful books of the year for me. The brilliance in Thomas's writing is that each word, phrase and space is hand selected to form beautiful prose and thought provoking text in both everyday and extraordinary situations. The reader is not left with the feeling of 'why did she leave that out', but rather with a feeling of cultivated and well gardened phrases that say everything that the author's pen wanted to give to reach the reader.
Upon publication,
(3.5) Abigail Thomas writes a particular type of episodic memoir, in which chapters are often just a few sentences or paragraphs long. Safekeeping is the best example of her style, while A Three Dog Life is her best overall (I remember it as one of the first books to turn me on to the memoir genre). I would place this latest book somewhere between those two in terms of quality. I was disappointed to find little mention of the aftermath of her husband Rich’s traumatic brain injury (the subject of ...more
Diane Barnes
This was a good, witty, thought-provoking memoir that I read over a couple of weeks of half-hour lunches, while munching a salad or sandwich. It lends it's self perfectly to that, because most entries are not even a page long, and never more than 3 pages. It's also non-linear, mostly just musings that tell a story of family, friendships, pets and life. I enjoyed it. ...more
Jan 04, 2016 rated it it was ok
Shelves: book-club, memoirs
1.5 stars

I guess everybody is different in what they like but I honestly don't understand the high ratings for this book. The blurb and all the glowing reviews on the cover from famous authors led me to believe it would be a wonderful memoir from which I would learn "the art of living". Instead, it reads like a blog or diary entries with no particular order or depth. Unless one thinks drinking too much, chain smoking, sleeping with unruly dogs, while enjoying the friendship of a man who had an a
Apr 21, 2015 rated it it was ok
2.5 stars. A quick read of short vignettes that included some poignant thoughts on aging and mortality amongst the banal paragraphs about binge-watching TV shows and far too many descriptions of painting on glass. This is the sort of book that only an established writer can get away with, and for that reason I can't help but feel like it's a little lazy. I wish that Thomas would have delved further into her alcoholism or her daughter's battle with cancer. If this were a friend's blog, I would pr ...more
Feb 15, 2015 rated it really liked it
(Another ARC borrowed from the library staff room. God, I love being a library volunteer.)

I like the way this woman writes, so funny and spare and honest. I finished the book in an evening and a morning and was thoroughly entertained. I'd recommend it to anyone.

But I read this the day after I saw the movie "Still Alice" and I had the same problem with the book that I did with the movie. I found it hard to care about the problems -- even the awful, tragic problems -- of this wealthy, attractive
Apr 25, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: true-story-read
Did I read the same book everyone else did?! I don't get what anyone sees in this book. It isn't cohesive at all and I feel I learned nothing deep from it because nothing happens. Yes, things her life, sad things, but she doesn't write them through to completion to offer any significant impact on the reader. very disappointed in this work. ...more
Oct 21, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2014
(3.5 stars)

Before this book, I had no idea who Abigail Thomas was, and through reading this, I feel like I've known her for years. She's praised as one of the most wonderful memoirists by Stephen King, and I can totally see why. Thomas has such a unique way of telling her life stories, and they ARE stories. The book is made up of tiny thoughts and selections of writing usually no longer than three pages but as short as two sentences. She sees life through a methodical lens, and writes it down wi
Jul 29, 2015 rated it did not like it
This book left me cold on several levels.

More than anything else, I found Ms. Thomas and virtually all the people she describes in this memoir to be not-very-nice, self-absorbed people.

Despite its title, the book offers neither advice nor examples on dealing with "what comes next", unless waiting 30 years to dull the pain is considered a strategy. That, plus start drinking first thing in the morning.

Ms. Thomas tells the story of her granddaughter telling her single mom that she wished she had
Apr 04, 2015 rated it it was ok
I have mixed feelings about this book. Some parts I really enjoyed and some parts I wanted to skip over. The setup was a little weird for me. I think you will either like this or not. I'm in the so-so category. It just didn't move me. ...more
Khulud Khamis
Jun 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I read this as a follow up on Thomas's memoir Three Dog Life. This is a beautiful memoir about living, a lasting friendship, mother and daughters relationship, and the love of dogs. I have fallen in love with Abigail Thomas's writing - it is genuine and unassuming, and above all, she writes with courage and honesty, which are essential for personal connection between a text and a reader. ...more
Gabriel Garcia Marquez wrote, “Life is not what one lived, but what one remembers and how one remembers it in order to recount it.” I have never read an author who is as honest about her life as Abigail Thomas; there doesn’t seem to be a corner of her mind or soul or life that, upon reflection, she isn’t willing to share how she felt at the time, decisions she made, or how she responded. Hers is a life fully lived, but not without significant challenges: three marriages, life as a single mother, ...more
Feb 17, 2015 rated it it was ok
*I received a copy of this book thanks to a Goodreads First Reads giveaway.

I am finally getting around to doing a review of What Comes Next and How to Like It: A Memoir after receiving it several months ago. I was really hoping to like it much more, but found it lacking the usual emotion and feeling of a memoir. Instead, it seemed more of a series of snippets of various experiences, in no particular order. I thought the description by another reviewer was very fitting, as she called them "stream
Lynne Spreen
When I read a memoir, I hope to be at least one of the following: inspired, motivated, entertained, enlightened, educated, or moved. There might be other qualities, but you get the idea. There has to be a takeaway.

In What Comes Next, written by a woman in her 70s, I didn't get much of anything, aside from a few entertaining chapters (all very short), and a few pithy phrases. Her life theme, in retrospect, seemed to be, "You can't control anything so don't try. Just live however you want, with as
May 23, 2015 rated it liked it
Abigail Thomas's newest book covers life after her husbands death, a friendship that survives and grows in spite of a deep betrayal, forgiveness and reconciliation with her daughter and aging. All heady subjects on their own but Thomas covers them all in This book by means of very short chapters... Some only a paragraph long. This is an interesting method of writing in that no matter how serious or devastating the topic, one cannot dwell on it. Is this the author's intent? The book only took a f ...more
Jun 20, 2019 rated it liked it
Sometimes the right book appears, unbidden, at the right time. (Thank you, Stephen King, and your grand blurb for pointing me in the right direction.) Having recently experienced a loss that I can't begin to unravel, the subjects of this memoir (death, friendship, betrayal, illness) spoke to me. But what I cherish about this memoir in vignettes, aside from the simple and direct prose, is the way the minutiae of daily life (a tree vying to grow between cracks, a snail, a savory stew, Legos, Googl ...more
Jan 02, 2016 rated it really liked it
I love Abigail Thomas's memoirs, and I love this one no less. She writes with such ease and grace about the hard topics--cancer, alcoholism, mortality--interspersed with references to Buffy and Supernatural in a way that makes me feel as if we're just chatting on the phone. It's nice; it's heartbreaking; it's just what one expects when picking up an Abigail Thomas book and turning to the first page. Can't recommend more highly. ...more
Feb 20, 2015 rated it really liked it
I love memoirs. Abigail Thomas has stolen my heart with her honesty, wit and vulnerability as she writes short vignettes about what all of us experience as we age. At times, I was comforted by her ability to name and describe feelings and thoughts that I thought were mine alone. I will tell all my friends of a certain age about this wise and very human book that will be available in March.
Oct 06, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This is a wonderful memoir and meditation on aging. Thomas is very blunt about her personal foibles. She writes in short, choppy sentences and yet there is a lovely rhythmic flow to her writing. She is also very funny and reading her book is like spending a great afternoon with a dear friend.
May 28, 2020 rated it really liked it
Ooo, I just loved this! The perfect blend of everything I love... memoir, writing tips, painting, lyrical language, humor. It was just so, so good. A yummy treat that inspires the beauty of everyday life.
Barbara (The Bibliophage)
Thomas has been writing and publishing for decades. These reminiscences are short and non-chronological. Her stories suit the audio format, and she’s a good narrator. There’s a lot of heart (and hound dogs!) in this short book.

Full review at
Apr 07, 2015 rated it really liked it
Memoirs are tough. Too often they seem like a vehicle for self-promotion and bragging, which can backfire and make the author unlikable. Not so with Abigail Thomas. She gives only a brief mention of her career and many accomplishments, and instead, takes a different path in writing this memoir.

The book is arranged as a series of chapters (essays) on varying topics. At the core is her decades-long platonic friendship with Chuck and a betrayal that threatened their bond, the life-threatening illn
Feb 25, 2015 rated it it was amazing
It’s the kind of book that you purchase on the first day that it’s available in an Upper West Side bookstore. You buy the book and then you walk home, clutching it to your chest in anticipation, a kind of private exuberance. Your pleasure is physical and demonstrative. You actually smile at complete strangers on the streets of New York. And when you are back home again, you fix cup after cup of nettle leaf tea and open a pack of Kadem orange flavored tea biscuits. To nibble and read, nibble and ...more
Apr 07, 2015 rated it really liked it
I loved everything about this book-- from its quirky layout to its breathtaking prose.
Here's an excerpt.
"Yesterday, May first, there was too much green and pink and yellow. There was no escaping the loveliness, the delicacy. Beauty assaulted me on every front-- forsythia, like a breaking wave, no, a tsunami of yellow; the old magnolia exploding into pink and white, like grenades; blue sky-- there was no escape from all this beauty. I was being force-fed a spring morning, even the oxygen was divi
Jun 28, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: memoir
I haven't read her other memoir, A Three Dog Life, but now I will. A retrospective look at life from the view of a 72-year old. The through-line that the stories of husband, children, tragedy, career, painting, and love hang on, is the author's friendship of 35-years with a co-worker she met early on in her writing career.

Her writing is amazing and refreshing in its frankness about her life, her successes and her imperfections--giving me hope in my own. A most engaging and thought-provoking li
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