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by Janne Teller

Analysis: Tough-o-Meter

We've got your back. With the Tough-O-Meter, you'll know whether to bring extra layers or Swiss army knives as you summit the literary mountain. (10 = Toughest)

(3) Base Camp

Nothing is a quick read, and it probably won't send you running for the dictionary. Although some of the Danish words may be unfamiliar, the English translation does an excellent job of explaining them through context.

This is an homage to the famous Danish philosopher Soren Kierkegaard; although his name is never mentioned, the book is heavy with his central tenet of "authenticity," or the idea that understanding human existence requires being true to one's authentic self. Think of Nothing as an allegory, a tale in which the characters and actions represent Kierkegaard's concepts.

If you set aside your desire for realism, and prepare yourself for plenty of violence (the cruelty in this book is probably the biggest obstacle to getting through it), you should be good to go. And the best part is, you'll learn a lot about yourself along the way.

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