Trusty Go-To Authors
I’m what some may call a little odd, in general definitely, and perhaps when taking into consideration my book reading schedule. First let me explain why I have rules to what I read and when. Here’s the reason for my weird reading rules-I suffered from serious Harry Potter withdrawal when I caught up with the series in between book 3 and 4. I read the first one to see what all the hoopla was about, fell in love, and immediately plowed through the second and third installments. Lucky for me that fourth book was coming out shortly thereafter and I picked up a copy. After finishing the fourth installment I went through serious Potter withdrawal. I really had trouble getting into another book following the Goblet of Fire- It was tough to read a non-fantasy, non-wizarding world book. But at the same time anything similar to it wouldn’t have held a candle. I was pretty stuck as to what to read next.
So from that day forth I came up with a plan, I never read the same series, author, or genre in a row. Ok, sometimes I break the genre rule since my favorite genre, murder-mystery, is one I do some serious time in. But even with the Hunger Games Trilogy and the Millennium Trilogy I didn’t break my rule. I read at least one non-related book in between both trilogies. Not just so I wouldn’t face a harsh withdrawal but also because I didn’t want to rush them. I tended to read through the Harry Potter books so quickly just to find out what would happen I know I missed so much. Not reading a great trilogy all the way through is my way of slowing down, taking my time, and really paying attention. Because of this rule I have accumulated a few go-to filler authors along the way. They are my trusty stand-bys, pumping out similar but good books with plots that are easy to follow. A lot of times these authors feature a recurring character in their work, the books aren’t thought-provoking but good, solid reads. I tend to seek solace in these authors after I’ve finished a difficult (but worth it) book whether it be classic I’ve wanted to check off my list or a new one everyone partakes in deep conversations about.
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Alexander McCall Smith, a Scottish author, really cranks out his novels. He currently writes five ongoing series, including his most famous The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency about Precious Ramotswe’s detective work and life in Botswana. In Smith’s books the location embodies a character in-and-of-itself. Since I know little about life in Africa this series provides knowledge. Botswana has a slower pace than the hustle and bustle of city life in more developed, urban places. That pace represents one of the reasons I continue to enjoy the Ladies’ Detective series. The main character believes in core values- family, respect for elders, care for her community and neighbors- and it is enjoyable to read a light-hearted book with a little mystery to solve in each installment. Currently Smith is on the 13th installment, (this does not include two novellas for younger readers he has published with Mma Ramotswe as the lead character), pretty much one a year since the start of the series in 1999. I’m about half way through the series, I look forward to the hunt in my used book store with my list of books and I always have on hand which one in this series is next for me. I started this series due to my love of mystery but adding Smith to my ranks of in-between authors encouraged me to branch out and try others from him. I have now read the first two installments of the 44 Scotland Street series which details the lives of neighbors living in Scotland. Again Smith gives a sense of community in the setting with an approach similar to the Ladies Detective series, light-hearted and easy-to-read.
Most readers, especially those who can’t get enough of crime and mystery, have a go-to series where the main character recurs despite their growing age and lack of a desire to get out of a field that puts them in life-threatening situations every case they take on- whether they are a detective, bounty hunter, or someone whose profession in real life would never put them in these situations. An example of the latter is Dr. Alex Delaware, child psychology, in Jonathan Kellerman’s ongoing series that started back in 1985 and is still going strong. Despite my hesitation for a practicing psychologist’s involvement with serious police matters, like hostage situations and suspect stand-offs, nonetheless I have done my time in Kellerman’s series chronicling Delaware’s cases and his work with his police buddy Milo. I have recently retired Kellerman from my go-to list. In his place I put Michael Harvey, a somewhat new crime writer whose stories are always about a former police officer/current private investigator in Chicago and yes he has nothing to lose. The set-up sounds generic and overdone but Harvey tells a good story elevating his books. Harvey has currently written four about his Chicago PI, Michael Kelly, the most recent dealing with a bio-attack. Harvey’s fifth book will be a stand-alone mystery due out in May 2013. Others on my go-to list are John Grisham and Michael Palmer, a Massachusetts-born doctor who writes medical thrillers usually based in Boston. In my opinion Palmer’s books are better than the more famous medical thriller writer, Robin Cook. I read a few of his and thought they were terrible but Palmer concocts a good conspiracy. Like Kellerman after a while Palmer’s books get a little predicable but as an in-between author he fits the bill.
These authors provided a break from my more-involved books on my to-read list, it’s nice to take a bit of a rest from long-winded, thought-provoking works and read something lighter. I find after checking off a new-to-me classic or a Jonathan Franzen these stand-bys provide me with a some breathing room before I dive back into something deeper. Instead of taking a break from reading, something I rarely do and at most it last for a few days, these authors allow me to continue my nightly ritual but give my brain a break at the same time.
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