January 5, 2009
Have you ever examined what you read and why? Are you a “read it once, then you’re done” reader or are you a rereader? I’m a rereader. I have a library full of books I enjoy reading again and again. I do run into books I wouldn’t bother to read again, some which didn’t even merit a compete read the first time through, but generally, if it’s a book I enjoyed, I add it to my collection to be read again in a year or so. I’ve got two Georgette Heyer I’ve had since I was a teenager (The Devil’s Cub and These Old Shades). I haven’t read them in a couple years, so it’s about time to drag them out again. Regency England, arrogant men, feisty woman, nefarious deeds and carriage chases! How fun is that?
What type of books appeal to you? I’m not into history, horror or pointless drama. I like action and books with interesting characters and good plots and I devour them like candy. I like books where the characters grow, solve problems, mature and develop and have interesting relationships. I don’t like books about people who are petty or stupid. Life is just too short and we really do get enough of that in real life.
I have a tendency to skim over the first sex scene in a book and skip all the rest completely. Been there, done that, don’t feel a voyeuristic desire to keep repeating the same mantra. I don’t like books that are dark, depressing or devoid of humor. I don’t care for books where the main characters take themselves too seriously or are unrealistic. I like books that make me laugh out loud, ponder hard and cry occasionally. That’s what good writing’s about, isn’t it?
I have favorite authors. Some of my favorites you’ve probably never heard of. Have you ever heard of Jay McLarty? He writes a really good series about a documents courier. The main character is your average looking slightly chubby, not terribly athletic fella with a decent brain, just like someone we might actually know. The writing is sharp, the characters well written and the plot and story telling interesting. I like Tom Clancy (who doesn’t), Grisham, Robb/Roberts, Lowell, Johansen, Dick Francis, PD James and the lady who wrote the JP Beaumont series. Pretty much anyone who reads has heard of them.
Have you ever heard of Jennifer Cruisie? Her stuff is really funny and most of it I enjoy it immensely. Her Welcome to Temptation/Faking It series is excellent. Nancy Martin’s Blackbird Sisters mysteries are excellent, though her preceeding romances didn’t do much for me. I’ve been keeping my eye out to see if/when a sequel in the Blackbird series will be announced. So far, no joy.
I like some science fiction/fantasy, but not a huge chunk of it. If the main character’s a vampire, you can pretty much count me out. I like writing that flows, and a lot of sci-fi/fantasy doesn’t or it’s so ponderously written I can’t imagine wending my way through it. If the Harry Potter books hadn’t come out in audio, I might not have read them, and they are some of my favorites. Hurray for audiobooks! McCaffrey is, of course, excellent. Have you ever heard of S Andrew Swann? His Nohar (Forests of the Night, Emperors of the Twilight, Specters of the Dawn/Partisan, Revolutionary, Profiteer) series are outstanding. Another series that’s excellent is David Feintuch’s Midshipman series. Lots of angst, suspense and maturing going on there.
I’ve just discovered a new sci-fi/fantasy author I like a lot. I’ve always said a good author could write a cookbook and I’d love it, and this lady is one of those. Patricia Briggs has written a number of books, some stand alone, some serial, that are truly excellent. I’ve managed to work my way through everything she’s written except her first book, which I haven’t yet managed to find and there’s not a dud in the lot. Her Mercedes Thompson series is a great read and lots of fun. I can hardly wait for the next installment. A measure of an author’s work is whether I’m willing to pay full price for their books. This author’s definately on the list with Johansen, Lowell, Robb/Roberts and a few others.
There are, of course, books my favorite authors have written that earned a “my God, why did they bother” response. Jennifer Crusie’s got an older romance that’s a real stinker. Definately no rereading there and I bought the audio on the basis of her other work. <sigh>
Some writers co-author and produce stuff that doesn’t have the same maturity/sophistication/flare as their lone work. It may be they have paired with authors which don’t interest me. Anne McCaffrey has written a number of books with Mercedes Lackey, whose writing I don’t particularly care for. I wouldn’t read a book written by her alone, but I will give an early co-authored book a sceptical chance. So far only a few have rate a reread. Lackey’s work lacks the smoothness/maturity/interest that McCaffrey achieves with ease. Her characters come across as plastic and lacking dimension. JMPO
Another not quite charming fit is Grisham and the guy who paired with him to do the Op Center series. Some are readable, some aren’t. I have a couple on audio that I listen to when I’ve run through everything else and need a break. Nothing to write home about.
There are long past authors I enjoy immensely. Have you ever heard of Ngaio Marsh? Her books are good, though not quite to the same degree as Dorothy L. Sayers’. Sayers’ Sir Peter Whimsey novels are very enjoyable. The glimpse back into post WW1 England are very interesting, the mysteries are very well crafted and the stories are great fun, well worth a reread. I particularly like Gaudy Night and Busman’s Honeymoon.
Treat yourself to a good book. You don’t have to pay full price to get a good read. Find something used on half.com, amazon.com or ebay and enjoy a good book. If you haven’t read the author before, check on amazon.com and see if they have a “see inside” on one of the author’s books. You can usually read the first five or six pages there to get a feel for the author’s style and topic. If you liked it and you’re not a rereader, pass it on to someone else who might like it too when you’re done.