Recently, I was having a conversation with Lou Aronica, publisher at The Story Plant. Lou had asked for my feedback on a review copy of one of his author’s novels. My remarks were mildly critical, so I offered Lou some insight on my reading background, in defense of my opinions.
We all have biases.
No matter how objective we might try to be, our backgrounds affect our reading choices and skew our book reviews. Each of these variables factor into our personal biases:
- Age and gender
- Education and income level
- Career and hobbies
But there’s one key thing that influences what books we buy, borrow or download–
- What were your first favorite books?
Think back, to when you made that first giant leap beyond Dick, Jane, and their little dog Spot. What were the first books you loved? Your early steps into the almost-infinite world of books set the course for the rest of your life. For me it was biographies and mysteries. I loved learning about people like Edison and Franklin, and I was also attracted to the little skull and crossbones on the spines of the young-adult mysteries.
Today, forty-plus years later, I’m still drawn to mysteries and thrillers filled with well-drawn characters. Go figure.
That said, I’m sure the list I sent to Lou will make perfect sense to you. I’m also sure that your list will look almost nothing like mine. I’ll show you mine, if you show me yours. Here goes:
My Must-Read list of authors and books:
- Favorite all-around author, ever: John D. MacDonald. Hands down. A Flash of Green is wonderful.
- Favorite current series character: Jack Reacher (Lee Child), with Virgil Flowers (John Sandford) a very close second.
- Best writer for dialogue: Robert B. Parker. Love and Glory was a jewel. Stardust (the Spenser series) stands out.
- Best writer for plot and the craft in general: Stephen King. The Stand and 11/22/63: A Novel are masterworks, worth rereading more than once.
- Best “aw shucks” writer: C.J. Box. That Joe Picket guy gets into the darnedest fixes!
- Best female author in the game: JA Jance. The whole Joanna Brady series is a breath of fresh air.
- Best “willing suspension of disbelief” writer whose last name isn’t King: Patrick Lee, a brand new discovery for me. The Breach launched his trilogy with a bang.
- Favorite post-apocalyptic novel that isn’t The Stand: Pat Frank’s immortal Alas, Babylon
Now, certainly I’ve left something or someone out. Jeffrey Archer, Ken Follet (Pillars of the Earth!), Marcia Muller, Jean Auel, Harlan Coben, Ludlum, Cussler–probably a dozen more. You probably disagree with at least half of my choices.
photo courtesy of ~Brenda-Starr~
So, who or what makes your Must-Read list? What categories did I miss?