I got a new computer late last year. But I’m barely starting to actually use it. I work on two monitors 40 hours a week, so when I’m home I’m not dying for more screen time.
Anyway, over the weekend I started organizing some of my reading-related documents I have (I’m writing a full post on them for tomorrow). One of which counts the number of books I own by author. I’ll have to do some checking, but I now know I have *at least* 270 books. That’s not surprising. What surprised me was that I have books written by *at least* 109 authors! Like, holy cow! That’s a lot of authors!
When I think of the hours I’ve spent reading my books compared to the hours spent writing them, it’s insane.
My favorite authors obviously carry much of the load in my little library, which I imagine is true for most people. Michael Connelly, Robert B. Parker, T. Jefferson Parker, Steve Hamilton, Robert Crais, and James Patterson (ugh) account for 107(!) of the books. And I have several single title authors.
Do you have any idea how many authors you own?
Earlier this year I made it clear how disappointed I was in my reading last year. 5 books. Just saying that makes me want to hit my head on my desk. But 2019 is off to a better start! So I decided to do a little roundup of my January reading.
Two Kinds of Truth
Harry Bosch ages in real time. In this book he’s into his 60s, but I DON’T CARE. Never stop writing him, Michael Connelly. Or we’re fighting.
I hate to say it, but this was rather unremarkable. I love Spenser. And this won’t discourage me from continuing the series, but I finished the book wanting more.
I wrote about this earlier in the week here. This book was the best crime novel I’ve read! There’s no exaggeration. I gave my reasoning in my previous post. I’m still considering it, but it’s likely a top five all-time read for me. And I have the next four in the series awaiting my curious eyes.
I said I’d stay with crime novels for a bit, and I mostly did. But this was the lone exception last month. It didn’t have hardly any laugh out loud moments, whereas the first in the series was full of them.
The Second Life of Nick Mason
This was the first in a new series written by Steve Hamilton. He’s also one of my favorite authors and it was my first time reading one of his books in several years. It’s well below 300 pages and I felt it. It went way too fast and lacked much depth throughout. But still had a number of exciting moments, which kept it at the above rating.
I count 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 books for the month! It was really in the last two weeks, but shh. I matched my entire 2018 in the first month of 2019 and I’m still going! I know there will be some down months ahead, but I’m happy with and encouraged by my start to the year.
How was your month of reading!?
I’ve read this week about two lawsuits currently pending. They both concern the work of authors who have died. And in both cases it’s one part of the family suing another part.
One of the lawsuits concerns the work of John Steinbeck. The other is about Tom Clancy.
What happened to preserving the legacy of authors once they die? So many times lawsuits are filed almost immediately upon the death of an author. I guess this is no different from other types of celebrities who leave their families to fight over large estates. But it’s still a bit disappointing.
I think Robert B. Parker did it best. He left his series in the hands of other authors he knew. Though I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to read a Spenser or Jesse Stone novel written by another author, at least there was no fight when Parker died unexpectedly.
Do you think it immediately becomes all about the money involved once an author dies?
Sometimes people say things that make no sense. Like comparing the work of two authors who have no business being compared. I think it’s a little ridiculous to say that genres limit creativity by placing labels on one’s work.
No one is saying that certain genres need very specific stories or characters. I mean, just look at young adult. Sure we have an expectation of what to expect when starting a new young adult book, but that doesn’t mean every book is the same. Which goes for every genre.
The fact is (to me) that we need genres. Let me make a comparison here. Imagine if we didn’t have genres in music. Then we wouldn’t have radio stations genre-specific. And maybe that’d be interesting to some, but not to me. Imagine a Madonna song followed by Kendrick Lamar and then Blake Shelton. It would be odd.
Now let’s get back to books. Imagine going into a bookstore and there is not a single label or sign anywhere in the store to tell you which section you’re in. Why? No genres. So the entire store is alphabetized by author. The store is one big blob of books. Business books. Young adult. Mystery. History. Art. All shelved together with no “label”.
Think about this. How many times have you read a book, series, or author and immediately wondered what to read next? I haven’t done it much recently, but I have done it. So you play around on Amazon or Google or maybe even on the author’s website trying to find similar works. That’s what genres help with. I once randomly grabbed a book at Barnes and Noble by Robert B. Parker. I’d never read any detective fiction before. In subsequent years I found Spenser, Elvis Cole, Alex McKnight, Charlie Hood, Alex Cross, and Harry Bosch. These characters are not the same and they’re not directly influential of one another, but they do fall under the same umbrella of detective fiction.
There’s nothing limiting about genres. If you want to write something that blends several different genres together in the pages of a single book, then go ahead. But newsflash, it’s already been done plenty before you and those books are all categorized somewhere.
Do you think genres are important? Or are they just stupid labels to you?
Have you ever felt the urge to just do SOMETHING? That was me last night around two in the morning. I don’t ever go to sleep before that time, so my being awake was typical. But suddenly I needed to do something. Guess what I did? You might even be able to guess it.
I reorganized my bookshelves! Ha! It wouldn’t surprise me if I woke someone up because it turns out that moving books around can be pretty loud when there’s no other sound coming from any other part of the house. But I still kept at it. I made two changes last night. First, I moved my trade paperbacks from my paperbacks shelf to my hardcovers one. And second, I alphabetized all my books by author rather than by title. I was able to add about a shelf of books to my hardcover shelf as a result of the reorganization.
I don’t think my shelves look any better or worse after last night, just different. I realized that I now have 17 paperbacks by Robert B. Parker, the most of any author. And 16 by Michael Connelly.
Tell me you’ve experienced this need to do something like I did last night, and what did you do? Or am I just weird?
Here’s my visual of what I did last night. Hehe.
I imagine many of you have been to an author event of some kind. I know y’all have because I’ve written about them on here. Well there’s only one store authors really come to in Houston. And I have attended multiple events there before.
Well I just randomly checked the list for the first time in months, and one of my favorite authors had an event last month. And when I say he’s one of my favorites this is what I mean. When I’m asked about my favorite authors I say three names. Robert. B. Parker. Michael Connelly. Robert Crais. That’s it. No one else gets into that sentence.
It turns out that Robert Crais was here. *sad face* Even if I couldn’t make the event I could have gotten my books signed. Costs nothing but the price of the new book. Ugh.
Has an author ever visited your hometown without you knowing it and then you found out fairly soon afterward?
Kind of a weird title. I’ll explain.
Most writers start off doing something else. Maybe they work for a major tech company. Maybe they work as an accountant. Or they’re in marketing. They can be just about anyone, right? My question today asks if that work experience that usually happens before the beginning of a writing career helps.
Some would say of course it does. Others would say it just takes away from time that could have been spent writing, or at least working on perfecting the craft. I obviously don’t have any real insight here, because I’ve never gone from a non-writing career to a writing one. But I do know about a few of my favorite authors. Marcus Sakey worked in marketing. Robert B. Parker worked as an English professor. I think. Michael Connelly worked as a journalist. Lee Child worked in TV. The list goes on and on. And the professions would vary widely from one author to the next.
But knowing this still doesn’t answer the question if prior work helps with one’s writing career. I think there’s no doubt that it helped Michael Connelly. He wrote for the Los Angeles Times. But Sakey was in an office for six years. I’m sure he had a lot of time to think, but I don’t know if he actually learned anything he didn’t already know.
Just about any writer on here is more polished and accomplished than I am. Maybe you have an actual response to a question I can only think about. Does the work you currently do or did in the past help with your writing?
On this day in 2014 I published If you Could Jump Into any Story.
You know, that page you probably skip right over when you initially start a book? Yeah, the dedication page.
I generally read every page of books I finish. Epilogue. Prologue. Everything in between. But I also make it a point to read the dedication pages. All of them. Why? Just because the author decided to include it and that’s reason enough for me to read it. But I’ve never come across a memorable dedication in any book I’ve ever read. That isn’t to say that I think authors should write some great dedication to start their books, but I imagine there are some memorable dedications out there that I just haven’t seen yet.
I’m lucky enough to have written one of these before. And even though I haven’t opened my book in many months, I’m pretty sure I remember mine. I think it read “For mom and dad, I did it!”. That may be slightly off, but it’s something along those lines. I honestly can’t remember ANY dedication I’ve read. Yikes. The only thing I’m thinking of (without checking) is that Robert B. Parker would always dedicate his books to his wife. And I think her name was Joan. That’s about it.
Have you ever read any really cool dedications at the start of a book?
On this day in 2014 I published Recommending Books.
I really mean author/writer/poet. Past or present. Dead or alive.
If you glance over at my Bookish Bucket List you’ll see that there are a few authors I want to meet. It’s a nice little list of different authors, but there’s one I’d like to meet over all the rest. I talked about him yesterday. Robert B. Parker.
He’s influenced the entire genre that is detective fiction. I can see bits of his characters and style in most detective stories I read. And I’ve read interviews from bestselling authors of today who admit that their detectives were heavily influenced by Spenser. Parker shaped the modern detective story like no one else has.
But the thing is that I wouldn’t want to pick his brain about his characters or stories or any of that stuff. I’d just want to have a conversation with him. About anything. I might ask him about his family. Or about why he started writing in the first place. Or what he viewed as his single greatest accomplishment, writing-related or otherwise. I’d simply want to get to know the man behind one of the great characters of the last fifty years. But at no point would I ask for writing advice, because he’s more than just an author to me. He managed to influence me without ever knowing it in many more things besides my own writing.
What about you? If you could meet one writer/author/poet from any period, who would it be?
On this day in 2014 I published Listen While you…Write?.
I read a post this weekend that got thinking about this very thing.
Have you ever been reading a series and then the author suddenly dies before finishing it? And another author is tasked with continuing the series. I have, though I’m not near the end of the series just yet. In 2010 Robert B. Parker died suddenly before he could finish either of his most popular series (Spenser and Jesse Stone). In the years since his death there have been 11 books written in three of his series by various authors. And I think all have been New York Times bestsellers.
I don’t know how I feel about this. Wait, actually I know exactly how I feel. These characters will not go on forever. Eventually there will be an end to their respective series, and I don’t like knowing that Parker will not be able to be the one to finish them. I think the first two or three books published after his death were unfinished manuscripts he’d had when he died. But I think it’s safe to say that the new books being released at this point are hardly the creation of Parker.
I understand that it sucks that he happened to die before he could finish his series. But if given the choice of continuing the series written by other authors or finishing where he left off, I’m not sure what my pick will be. I have plenty of books left before I reach that point, but this hopefully doesn’t become a trend.
What do you think? Want your favorite series to be continued after the author dies or not?