I’m beginning to think I’m fickle

A post at the excellent Kittling: Books the other day got me thinking. Cathy listed all the authors whose books she buys automatically as soon as she knows they’ve a new book out and many of the writers on her list had very long-running series that Cathy has stuck with all the way through. What got my little grey cells humming was that If I were to come up with such a list it would be brief to the point of embarrassment.

In fact it would consist of one author: Sue Grafton. I’ve read her alphabet series from the beginning and have bought each instalment, though, I must admit, not always immediately it was released (book pricing in Australia has always been obscene and I have not always had enough disposable income to shell out for new release prices). All the other authors whose books I used to buy automatically and who are still writing including

  • Patricia Cornwell
  • Linda Fairstein
  • Elizabeth George
  • P.D. James
  • the Kellermans (husband and wife only not the offspring)
  • Stephen King
  • Karin Slaughter

are no longer anywhere near my radar. With most of them I simply became bored: feeling like I was reading the same book repeatedly or believing the authors to be such big names that no one is prepared to edit them properly anymore so their stuff is bloated (you really don’t want to get me started on all the things wrong with Elizabeth George’s later books). I even crossed Sara Paretsky off my favourite authors list after this year’s BREAKDOWN landed on my DNF pile due to its overt claims to a moral superiority it did not earn.

The next-closest I have to an author whose books are ‘auto-buys’ for me is journalist turned fiction writer Geraldine Brooks whose non-fiction and historical fiction I have generally loved. But even then I baulked at MARCH (a story from the point of view of the absent father from LITTLE WOMEN). I’ve pretty much read everything Ian McEwan ever wrote too, though I’ll admit that I never finished SOLAR and feel a bit wary about whatever he might release next.

There are some recently new-to-me writers whose books I eagerly anticipate. These include

  • Sulari Gentill
  • Chris Grabenstein
  • Kerry Greenwood
  • Elly Griffiths
  • Katherine Howell
  • Adrian Hyland
  • Arnuldur Indridason
  • Asa Larsson
  • Liza Marklund
  • Johan Theorin

But I haven’t been reading any of these authors for more than 3-4 years so I’m hardly a long term fan. Perhaps I’ll tire of these too?

What about you? Have you been reading the same authors for a long time? Is it fickle to have completely changed my reading tastes or a by-product of maturing?

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28 Responses to I’m beginning to think I’m fickle

  1. Bernadette – That is such an interesting issue to bring up! I would say that except for Agatha Christie (whose books I will probably re-read for the rest of my life) I’ve changed what I buy/read automatically too. There are some authors (Michael Connelly is one) whose work I’m almost always confident I’ll like. But “auto-buy?” That’s a different matter. I honestly don’t think of it is fickle (’cause if it were, I’d be fickle and I”m not. Am I? 😉 ). I think of it as expanding and changing tastes. Nothing wrong with that.

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  2. Cathy says:

    I don’t think you’re fickle at all, Bernadette. As time passes, our tastes change. You have given me an idea for another post: Who’s No Longer on Your Auto-Buy List? Thanks! (I know I have more than a few of those.)

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    • Thanks Cathy. I suppose it was more gradual than it feels sometimes…and has a lot to do with having access to a much wider range of books these days than 5 or 10 years ago.

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  3. JoV says:

    I think it is a mixture of maturity and also wanting to read something different from the run of the mill from a particular author(s). I always wonder with Crime fiction writers to be able to produce one book a year must be so convenient and does feel like mass production. What happens to mass production? They are look the same.

    I hope you have an enjoyable time on your new list of Authors. I too would like to read the books from the authors with A as their first name in your new list. 🙂

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  4. Jose Ignacio says:

    Bernadette – Only recently I’ve increased the scope of my crime fiction readings. I started with Enid Blyton and I followed up with Christie. Years later Patricia Highsmith, Vazquez Montalban, P D James and Mankell were my favourites. There was a time I read what was considered a must, now I only read for pleasure.

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    • Jose Ignacio I agree wholeheartedly – reading for pleasure is the way to go now. Also love that you start way back with Enid Blyton – she was my first ‘auto buy’ author too – I even saved up pocket money for her 🙂

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  5. Kathy D. says:

    As I read more terrific blogs, I learn of more global authors and book recommendations and then my interest expands with the result that my credit card takes a hit. I now must have books by Indridason and Camilleri immediately. Occasionally, I cave on books by Elly Griffiths, Donna Leon, Fred Vargas, Hakan Nesser and some others. And then on women authors from Oz, I wish these books were more accessible. The temptations are great. I ordered The Precipice, couldn’t wait and bought Felicity Young’s newest book for a retired-nurse-practitioner friend, who loved it. If the Oz books were more available, I’d be ordering a lot more, especially Katherine Howell. Now friends are asking me to borrow Howell’s books, so I appreciate the kindness of shipping them. A group of fans of Howell’s books is developing in the Big Apple.
    The U.S. authors whom I like and whose books I want ASAP are made available pretty quickly in our libraries: Nevada Barr, Sue Grafton, Sara Paretsky, And the library is good about ordering Adrian Hyland’s books, Kerry Greenwood’s series with Corinna Chapman, Asa Larsson’s mysteries, and they’re starting to catch up with Liza Marklund’s, so I think my credit card is spared here. Since I’ve discovered Gail Bowen, I’ve found that Abe Books has used copies.
    The problem is with the rave blog reviews! There are so many books I want to read and the library is just not ordering enough global crime fiction. So it’s the hide my credit card syndrome.

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    • I too get too many good recommendations these days Kathy…a better problem in the long run than having nothing good to read…though my bank balance doesn’t always agree either 🙂

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  6. Terry says:

    My next read could come from any of several ‘categories’, but I’d usually *start* with the one you’ve raised. In my case I’d probably label it ‘Must read any new novel (not short stories) by these authors.’ Off the top of my head it would include:
    Elmore Leonard (any)
    Lawrence Block (Keller)
    John Harvey (any)
    Michael Connelly (any)
    James Lee Burke (Robicheaux)

    It used to be longer, including novels by:
    Robert Crais (Cole/Pike)
    Lawrence Block (Scudder)
    Lawrence Block (Rhodenbarr)
    Harlan Coben (any)
    George Pelacanos (any)
    Dennis Lehane (any)
    Robert Parker (Spenser)

    Of course, if I go back far enough then it would be a very diffrerent ‘must read’ list. For example, in my teens:
    Isaac Asimov (any)
    Artur C Clarke (any)
    Robert Heinlein (any)

    And back in short pants I recall it was always one shelf of the public library I’d aim for, hoping for one I hadn’t yet read by:
    Richmal Crompton (Just William)

    Back to present times, even my ‘must reads’ are dynamic. For instance, I’m only 10% of the way into my first book by William Landay, ‘Defending Jacob’, but I’m enjoying it so much that I know I’ll be seeking out more by him very soon.

    Of course, even the ‘must read’ authors occasionally let you down. He’s still on my list but I was sorely disappointed with a couple of Michael Connelly’s. And *so* disappointed by the puerile ‘Headhunters’ from Jo Nesbo that he doesn’t feature on any of my lists now!


    Terry, East Grinstead, UK

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    • Interesting point Terry about ‘must read’ authors occasionally letting you down – I felt that way about Paretsky until the last book which was just annoying on so many levels that I don’t want to go back there.

      The Jo Nesbo comment interests me too – I had only read one of the Harry Hole books before reading Headhunters but my hatred of Headhunters has, I think, impacted on my willingness to read more of the other series – which feels a bit silly as I loved the first one I read. I’m still making my mind up on that issue.

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  7. Norman Price says:

    Bernadette, I too was a Patricia Cornwell and Karin Slaughter fan. I don’t think lost interest in them I think their books changed and they tried for a broader readership that left me behind. Now there are only a few authors that I can’t do without; Andrea Camilleri, Liza Marklund, Fred Vargas, Arnaldur Indridason, Donna Leon. There are a few more authors who might move into that category after I have read more of their books, but those five are the must reads for me. Jo Nesbo used to be in that category but he has disappointed me with his last two Harry Holes.

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  8. Maxine says:

    I read that excellent post by Cathy and have a post in draft somewhere (must try to find it!) with my authors on it. I think that’s a very good point, though, about auto-buy authors who somehow “lose it” with a faithful reader. It is amazing to me now, how much I looked forward to the new E George or P Cornwell – it is years since I stopped Cornwell but only in the past 5 that I’ve got fed up with George though I keep getting sucked in via the library … I seem to retain a herd memory of when she was good, that I can’t delete!

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    • At least you’re only reading the George books from the library and not wasting any pennies on them Maxine 🙂

      I’ll look forward to seeing your list of auto buy authors…though perhaps my bank balance doesn’t want to know 🙂 Am reading the latest book by one of my new potential auto-buy authors that you introduced me to – Liza Marklund’s LAST WILL – enjoying it immensely but I did only borrow it from the library as it was hugely expensive to buy here (sorry Liza)

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      • Maxine says:

        Expensive here too, as I had to get the US edition (it isn’t out here yet) – therefore no hope in the library! But I don’t mind, for Liza.

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  9. Maxine says:

    PS Janet Evanovich. Her first two were fresh as a daisy, loved them. They were autobuys for a few more titles, but now I run for the hills when a new one comes out. I read in a review of her latest (20?) that Stephanie is still dithering over Ranger vs Joe or whatever the two men are called….yawn.

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    • Oh no – not still dithering over those two blokes – I agree the first couple of books were great but I lost interest before the series hit double figures – I can’t imagine how she has dragged out that plot device for so many books

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  10. Amy says:

    Ha, we all seem to like Indridason a bit, it seems. Those novels are automatic to me. I have few authors that are on auto-buy, except for Nesbo, Massimo Carlotto, Andrezj Stasiuk (Polish) and Tim Winton, of who will purchase without a second thought. I used to read the Patricia Cornwell novels but then her premise became so silly…are medical examiners that sought out by criminals? I think not. They became tiresome. I can’t believe I used to read the Jodi Piccoult’s and Jennifer Weiner books (before I knew what else was out there). I have a tiny local library so my choices were so limited. Now with blogs and the net, it’s lovely to have choices.

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    • Amy I’m with you – blogs and the net have widened my horizons so much (you can’t believe you used to read Piccoult – I used to read James bloody Patterson for crying out loud – how embarrassing).

      You didn’t mention your other Aussie fave – Mr Carey – was that in deference to my hatred of him I wonder or is he not an auto buy author even for you 🙂

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  11. Karen Russell says:

    I think my tastes have gotten more discriminating since I started blogging/reading book blogs (like yours). I used to read the same old authors all the time because that’s all I knew. Now I read so many different ones, particularly non-U.S./translated and even more particularly Nordic authors, that I don’t want to waste time on series that are ho-hum any more — or maybe always were, but I hadn’t realized it yet!

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    • So true Karen – as I mentioned in another response I used to read James Patterson books!!!! To be fair to me I think I did know they weren’t very good at least after the first couple but I just didn’t know what else to read and they were always so readily available and relatively cheap here – always available in special deals or whatever which was a huge issue for me some years ago in the pre Amazon/Book Depository years (what I call the dark ages)

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  12. Rebecca says:

    You’re definitely not fickle! Reading through the comments I found lots of authors I used to read religiously too (Cornwell, Evanovich, the Kellermans), but, while I don’t abandon all the authors completely, I go years before I get back to one of the series.

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  13. Loved this post. I have accepted life changes which means my taste will also. I still love the genre but the authors have changed. Patricia Cornwell was a go to also, I lost complete interest but I hear her latest 2 are better, we should try again.

    I have been a long term fan of Mary Higgins Clark and honestly this is the first year I didn’t buy the hardcopy immediately (feeling a little guilty) but I am tired of the formula she uses even though I use to love it.

    I have Sue G on my author to try list, I have A to start with.

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