You know when you read an author for the first time, and neither the story nor the characters are always perfect, but there’s just something about the writing that really clicks? For me, good writing is a vital part in my connection to, and admiration for, a book. I can read and enjoy a book without spectacular writing – that focuses on other things, for example I truly enjoyed The Cuckoo’s Calling but the writing wasn’t the reason for the enjoyment. Well, I mean, it was well written but not spectacular. I say spectacular/good writing, but I’m basing this on my own personal taste of course. For example I remember so many people talking about the amazing and unique writing in The Book Thief by Markus Zusak – ugh. I really, really, disliked the way he used language. I understood the “uniqueness” of it, I just didn’t think it worked. So basically what I’m saying is, good solid writing to me is something very subjective so when I find something that truly appeals to me – I tend to want to read everything that author has ever written.
That was a long intro. Anyway, what I wanted to discuss today was the authors I read for the first time in 2015 and that I instantly felt a connection with, and have hopes to read their entire backlog in the coming years.
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The first one in the year was Jon Krakauer. I read Into Thin Air in January, so it has been several months since then. It was without a doubt one of the best books I read this year. I am not a big non-fiction reader (something I hope to change in the future) so I felt slightly intimidated. But Krakauer has a way of telling the story that makes it both interesting and real. It completely captivated me, in the sense that I lost track of time whilst reading it, and it was very accessible. I realized something about myself reading Into Thin Air, that I have a certain fascination with faroff places such as mountain tops, bottoms of oceans, Antartica, islands. There’s something magical about them, but at the same time Krakauer doesn’t shy away from discussing the rather more gruesome realities of the climb up Mt. Everest. Long story short, Into Thin Air was amazing and I’m curious to see how Krakauer tackles other topics as well.
Fast-forward a few months and we come to the author I think clicked with me the most, Shirley Jackson. I’d heard about her for so long, and had planned to read her short stories for a long time before finally getting to it in Spring. When I was reading The Lottery and Other Stories I didn’t immediately realize how much I loved it. Some stories definitely clicked with me, others didn’t, the title story was amazing of course. But as I finished the collection and time passed, I realized I was thinking about it constantly. It lingered in my head, whispering readmereadme and I knew something about Jackson’s writing had spoke to me. I also read Hangsaman as you’ll know, in December, and had similar feelings towards Jackson’s writing. The woman is amazing.
I finally got around to reading my first book by Siri Hustvedt this year (What I loved) and she definitely writes in a way that appeals to me. This book is a good example of a story with imperfect characters, and certainly where I felt the story itself wasn’t perfect, the writing still saved it for me. And it made me curious to read more of her work.
Next up was Fuminori Nakamura (The Thief). The Thief is actually a rather simple story, it’s short and on the surface there’s not that much too it. I did like the actual story and the characters but I also couldn’t recommend it to anyone because I wouldn’t know how to – there was nothing groundbreaking in it. Yet the connection for me was there, and I can’t explain why. Something worked for me and made me feel like this would even be worth revisiting, to get a new perspective on it. Yes, I think that’s it for me – the writing was deceptively simple, and I think the simplicity is what brings it its richness. Does that even make sense?
Lastly, the author of the weirdest book I read this year – The Master & Margarita, is Mikhail Bulgakov. Man, this book, his writing, it’s just so different from anything I’ve ever read. It really felt like falling into Wonderland, where things were turned upside down and nonsense was truth and magical things were twisted out of shape. I am very curious to read more of Bulgakov’s books to see whether I just loved this particular book and story and setting, or whether Bulgakov’s writing is what I’m utterly captivated by.
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These are the five authors I really clicked with over the year. Who are some authors you discovered in 2015? Any authors whose backlist you’re dying to plunge into and check off?
Until next time, Happy Reading!