Confessions of an Author Obsessive

Cover of The Crane WifeI’ve got a bit of a obsessive personality at the best of times (to my shame, I have been known to tidy DVDs at shops without even being aware of it), and when it comes to favourite authors, it manifests in a need to read every book they have ever written. This has often been frustrated by choosing authors who seem to only write one book a millennium or have written so many, my task seems Herculean.

When I read a writer who just ‘does it for me’, I then set about reading every thing they have ever written. Those who have written just a few I can mark off quickly, others are proving to be a life’s work for me.

It’s interesting how some vary in their skills from book to book, and others nail it every time. I sometimes start with their first book and work through in order of publication, or just randomly pick them in a crazy ‘throw my hands in the air like I just don’t care’ kind of way.

So, like a true obsessive, I will now list a few of the authors I have read completely or am working on. I’ll also give my tips, for what it’s worth, on how I think it is best to approach them:

Cover of Close RangeAnnie Proulx

Start with The Shipping News, then Accordion Crimes, Postcards, Close Range (which is a collection of short stories including the excellent Brokeback Mountain), and then move on to her other excellent titles. I’d leave Bird Cloud to the end. This is a non fiction account of her building her dream home in Wyoming and is possibly the least interesting, but that may just be me.

Patrick Ness

Start with the amazing Chaos Walking Trilogy, move onto A Monster Calls, then More Than This, and finish up with The Crane Wife and The Crash of Hennington. Mr Ness is one of those writers who needs to write more prolifically to keep me happy! There is a title of his not in the library:  Topics about which I know nothing – I’ve filled a request an item form (a useful form to use if you want the library to buy something).

Cormac McCarthy

Cover of Outer DarkThere are eleven of his titles in the library, and he is my slow and steady author. I love his work, but it is not always easy going and rarely light, so I pepper his works in among my other reading.  I’d suggest starting with All the Pretty Horses, then move onto Outer Dark, The Road, No Country for Old Men,  Suttree and then his other works. I’ve still got a few to read, and the added bonus with McCarthy is his works have such depth and strength of narrative and character (I’m not biased or anything), that they make great movies… so read the book, watch the movie of  The Road, The Sunset Limited (a play), The Counsellor and No Country for Old Men. 

John Steinbeck

An early obsession for me when in my teens, I think I started with Of Mice and Men, then moved onto Cannery Row, Sweet Thursday, East of Eden and The Grapes of Wrath, but perhaps it is time to finish that list off too.

Carol Shields

This writer’s works are only partly read by me, but Unless got me hooked, which led to The Collected Stories, Duet, Stone Diaries, Small Ceremonies and Larry’s Party. I still have several more to tick off the Carol Shields list.

Do you have authors you love with a passion, whose latest novel you are hanging out for? And who would you see as your ‘must read all’ authors?

13 thoughts on “Confessions of an Author Obsessive

  1. karenbccl 19 June 2014 / 2:07 pm

    I went through a John Steinbeck ‘stage’ in my teens as well – think I missed ‘Sweet Thursday’ though. Will have to rectify that at some point.

    • purplerulzpurplerulz 21 June 2014 / 10:23 am

      Yes, not sure why Steinbeck spoke to me as a teen, but then so did John Wyndam, the great Sci Fi Guy!

  2. Bibliobishi 20 June 2014 / 8:50 am

    Yes. I am now waiting for the last book in a trilogy by Amitav Ghosh. He is one of those slow authors. But well worth waiting for. Start with Sea of Poppies.

    • purplerulzpurplerulz 21 June 2014 / 10:24 am

      yes, the slow ones are infuriating, but you can get two or three different authors going at the same time to fill the gaps!

  3. ValerieL 20 June 2014 / 1:18 pm

    My favourite authors are dead. Josephine Tey wrote detective novels in the 1930’s (around the same time as Agatha Christie), unfortunately she wrote very few Inspector Alan Grant books. When I’m not tracking down and re-reading her books, I like reading John Buchan’s Richard Hannay series. Starting with The Thirty-Nine Steps.

    • Alina 29 June 2014 / 3:32 pm

      Another Josephine Tey fan! Luckily most (all?) her books seem to be out of copyright/available on Gutenberg.

      • ValerieL 30 June 2014 / 9:56 am

        Thanks for that, I’ll hunt her out their. Wish I had bought them when I had the chance, but Gutenberg it is.

  4. purplerulzpurplerulz 21 June 2014 / 10:24 am

    Carol Shileds died several years ago, so there are a finite number of books to read of hers too.

  5. michaelbaitken 24 June 2014 / 5:05 pm

    Crime novelists lend themselves to these obsessions well; Sue Grafton’s “alphabet” series keeps me hooked – heaven knows what will happen when she gets to “z”; Peter Corris’ “Cliff Hardy” novels; Raymond Chandler (so few books and stories as he started late in life); Henning Mankell’s “Wallander”; Of course the flavour of the moment is George RR Martin’s The Song of Fire & Ice (or GOT to fans) – I only hope he gets them all finished before he dies but at the speed he writes we are wishing him good health and longevity!

  6. michaelbaitken 24 June 2014 / 5:10 pm

    …and then there is William Wharton – just waiting for a LOA Collected Works version to come out to fill my shelf. At least he has shuffled off his mortal coil so I think I have now read them all. Whatever happened to AA Attanasio? This blog has reawakened my obsessions…I will seek treatment!

  7. michaelbaitken 24 June 2014 / 5:11 pm

    …and of course John Updike

    • Donna 25 June 2014 / 10:30 am

      If you want to read something about Updike, I’ve heard good things about a new biog of him. That’s an impressive bunch of authors you mention. I’d read anything by Peter Ackroyd and Magnus Mills. And Mary Roach for an irresistible combo of science and wit.

  8. Alina 29 June 2014 / 3:37 pm

    I’m also obsessive about reading an author I get hooked into, glad it’s not just me! Most recently I’ve started working through Ellis Peters/Edith Pargeter (love Cadfael!). Other authors: Lois McMaster Bujold (I’d start with either the Chalion books or the Sharing Knife quartet, but I enjoy the Vorkosigan books too), Diana Wynne Jones (although I’m almost reluctant to read her last book now I know there won’t be any more…), Megan Whalen Turner (so few books, arrrgh) and Elizabeth Wein.

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