SPOILER WARNING: These book discussion questions are highly detailed and will ruin plot points, if you have not read the book.
Author: Stieg Larsson
Page Count: 590
Tone: Dark, Gritty
1. Did you like Mikael Blomkvist?
2. What did you view him as? A writer? A hero? A failure? Other?
3. Do you think Blomkvist has intimacy issues? If so, are they a stumbling block for him?
4. Does Lisbeth Salander have intimacy issues? Is so, are they a stumbling block for her?
5. What did you think of Blomkvist and Berger’s relationship?
6. What did you think of Lisbeth Salander as a character? Was Lisbeth a believable character? If not, did she need to be?
7. Does Lisbeth have a mental illness? If so, was the illness ever named?
8. Lisbeth is described as being 4’11”, 90 lbs, and – though she looks anorexic – she isn’t. She eats an intense amount of food. What does this description say about Lisbeth? What does it say about the author’s view of women?
9. Do you think that Lisbeth’s image was meant to attract people or to shove them away?
10. Here are the movie posters for the Swedish and American movies. Do you think one movie captured the tone and truth of the book better? What is the difference in the depictions of Lisbeth on the posters?
11. In the book, why do you think so many people were attracted to Lisbeth?
12. Why do you think so many women were attracted to Blomkvist?
13. What do you think of the original, Swedish title? (Men Who Hate Women)
14. Why do you think the title was changed for the American edition?
15. Which title do you think is more effective? Why?
16. What do you think of the pace of this book?
17. Is Lisbeth the main character or a side character?
18. There are very graphic rape scenes that occur in this novel. How did you respond to these?
19. What was the author’s point in depicting rape? Did he have (or need) a point?
20. Do you think that the author wrote these scenes well or that he could have done better?
21. What did you think of Lisbeth’s revenge against her counselor?
22. Do Lisbeth’s experiences make her stronger?
23. Why do you think authors use sexual assault (mainly against women) as an “experience” to make their characters stronger? Do you think this can be done in other ways?
24. It is said that Stieg Larrson wanted to emphasize misogyny in Swedish culture and that is why this book is so graphic. Do you think he accomplished his goal?
25. Do you think Larsson titillated with his violence, bluntly highlighted misogyny, or both?
26. At 15, Stieg Larrson witnessed a rape committed by three of his friends. What impact do you think this made on him?
27. Can you think of any books that highlight violence against women and accomplish it better?
28. Do you think the author had a point to make when he had Lisbeth save Blomkvist at the end of the book from Martin Vanger?
29. What was your reaction to Martin Vanger’s torture den?
30. What do you think of the way Martin Vanger died?
31. Did you ever suspect Martin Vanger of being the villain?
32. Why do you think Lisbeth destroyed evidence of the murdered women in Martin’s torture den?
33. What did you think of Harriet Vanger still being alive? Did you know it was coming or did you think she was dead?
34. Some reviewers label Lisbeth as a “feminist icon.” What does that mean? Do you agree with the statement?
35. What did you think of the setting? Did the setting become a main feature of the story?
36. What did you think of the Nazi element of the story? Was it important?
37. Was any of this book shocking to you? Discuss.
38. Do you think this book had a good ending? If not, where would you have wanted it to end?
39. What questions would you want to ask Stieg Larrson if he was still alive?
40. Did you like The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo? Are you going to read other books in the Millenium Trilogy?
Stieg Larsson’s website
Lit Lovers’ book discussion guide
Book Browse book discussion guide
The New York Review of Books’ review
The Telegraph’s interview with Stieg Larsson
Stieg Larsson: Behind The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo by CBS