By Milan Kundera

Setting the scene: Near the beginning of the story, two lovers are in a hotel room: The woman is upset, blurting out, "Men don't turn to look at me anymore." The man begins to send her anonymous love letters. The messages are intended to encourage their love, but the gesture backfires.

Why she chose it: I read this in my 20s, when I was in a relationship with a man who turned to me after suffering the shock of a drastic haircut—14 inches off!—and yelped, "Women don't look at me anymore." His words knocked the living daylights out of me. After all, I had just been staring at his lovely haircut. It's amazing how, like magnets, books come my way when I need them.

Memorable passage: "They went out, and only after a while did he see her again as the Chantal he had known. It is always that way: between the moment he meets her again and the moment he recognizes her for the woman he loves, he has some distance to go."


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