Tuesday, September 8, 2009

You owe it to yourself #4: Author Reccomendations

In the summer of 1991 I was almost 15 years old, huge into horror movies, and loving the Dark Tower series by Stephen King. Junior High was behind me and High school was just a few weeks away. I was down to the last 10 pages of King's book The Dark Tower III: The Waste Lands - and for those of you who haven't read it, this book has one of the biggest cliff-hangers I have ever come across, we're talking life or death, impending crashes on a massive scale and a riddle contest so thrilling it brings back echoes of Bilbo and Gollum under the Misty Mountains. It was at this point that I realized there were no more Stephen King books - I had literally read them all, and I had no idea what I was going to read next.

Everyone has a favourite author, and if you're anything like me you can probably relate to the unfortunate experience of catching up to them - that is, reading everything they have published up-to-date. At that point you can feel lost and don't really know where to get your next book from.

My suggestion - look to the authors themselves. Lots of authors mention other books inside their own fiction, and usually have one of their characters say something positive about them.

2 quick examples:

On page 1 of Robert A. Heinlein's "Have Space-Suit, Will Travel" the protagonist's father is reading a book called "Three Men in a Boat" by Jerome K. Jerome, a book so beloved by the character that he knows it by heart. (BTW - after reading "Three Men in a Boat" I can honestly say that this may be the funniest book I've read in the english language, I'm serious, don't read this book anywhere where laughing uncontrollably would be frowned upon.)

In Stephen King's book Lisey's Story, the protagonist's husband (A Science Fiction writer) raises a toast, "This ones for Alfie Bester, and if you haven't read him you should be ashamed!" King later states that the character's favourite novel is Besters "The Stars, My Destination." (This book currently sits in my top 10 SF novels of all time.)

We can all agree that authors are voracious readers. Therefore, it follows that just like anyone else who has read a good book, they like to recommend good books to their friends. Keep that in mind the next time you come across a book title in whatever book you are reading - the author didn't put that title in randomly.

If you don't want to go through all the trouble of keeping track of which books your authors mention in their own works, let the Internet do the heavy lifting for you and go to the website Fantastic Fiction. Enter your favourite author in the "Search Authors" box and when you get to their page, scroll down to the [Your Author] Recommends section to get a list of at least 10 books they have said good things about.

Your authors' almost all want to share their favourite books with you, and if you like their stuff, you will probably like what they recommend. Give it a try, after all, if you're really a fan, you owe it to yourself.

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