What Comes Next and How to Like It

A Memoir

What Comes Next and How to Like It

In her bestselling and beloved memoir A Three Dog Life, Abigail Thomas wrote about the tragic loss of her husband. In What Comes Next and How to Like It, she writes about aging, family, creativity, tragedy, friendship, and the richness of life. And it is exhilarating.

What comes next? What comes after the devastating loss of a spouse? What form does a lifelong friendship take after deepest betrayal? How does a mother cope with her child’s dire illness? Or the death of a cherished dog?

And how to like it? How to accept, appreciate, enjoy? How to find solace and pleasure? How to sustain and be sustained by our most trusted, valuable companions?

Exquisitely observed, lush with sentences you will underline and reread, What Comes Next and How to Like It is an extraordinarily moving memoir about many of life’s greatest challenges and inimitable rewards. It is also the story of the friendship between Abigail Thomas and a man she met thirty-five years ago. Through marriages, child raising, and the vicissitudes and tragedies that befall them both, this rich bond has helped her face whatever comes next with courage, exuberance, and grace.
  • Scribner | 
  • 240 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781476785059 | 
  • March 2015

Reading Group Guide

This reading group guide for What Comes Next and How to Like It includes an introduction, discussion questions, and ideas for enhancing your book club. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.


Written in a series of brief, poetic chapters, What Comes Next and How to Like It is Abigail Thomas’s extraordinary examination of her life today—often solitary, yet still rich and engaging, filled with art, writing, children, grandchildren, dogs, a few suitors, and her longtime best friend.

Topics and Questions for Discussion

1. Elizabeth Gilbert said of Abigail’s memoirs, “I come to her books as though to a feast, and leave fulfilled and transformed.” Did you feel transformed after reading What Comes Next and How to Like It? If so, in what ways?

2. This memoir is organized into four parts and many short “chapters.” Discuss the book’s structure. What purpose do you think it serves?

3. The second chapter, “Write a Book,” focuses on a discussion Abigail and Chuck have in which Chuck asks Abigail to write their story. How does this conversation affect Abigail’s telling of that story?

4. Abigail often finds herself painting, part see more

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About the Author

Abigail Thomas
Photograph by Jennifer Waddell

Abigail Thomas

Abigail Thomas, the daughter of renowned science writer Lewis Thomas (The Lives of a Cell), is the mother of four children and the grandmother of twelve. She is the author of six previous books, including the memoir A Three Dog Life, which was named one of the best books of 2006 by the Los Angeles Times and TheWashington Post. She teaches writing and lives in Woodstock.