Seeing how much you all liked my last post of this kind (and because there are far more than nine authors whom I want to try), I’ve decided to do a follow-up to my earlier post.
J. R. R. Tolkien
For years, I shunned the works of Tolkien as geek fodder not worth my interest. But through the influence of several readers and bloggers, I’ve had rather a change of heart regarding Tolkien. I now realize that he was not just a nerd who needed a hobby, but a serious author who intended to write only the best of books, which, many will say, he did. I’ve gotten little tastes of Tolkien’s work here and there in poems and excerpts from his novels, and what I’ve seen so far, I like. His association with C. S. Lewis piques my interest too. I’ve grown terribly fond of the Inklings, even though I’ve only read books from one of their members, but I look forward to getting to know some of their other members soon as well.
And speaking of the Inklings, I’ve recently been reading a lot about Charles Williams, one of the club’s more obscure members. He’s reputed to be the most talented Inkling, but for whatever reason, he never achieved quite the same level of fame as either Tolkien or Lewis. Part of that might be because his works are so brainy: even W. H. Auden, who was a fan of his, had trouble understanding his poetry (and I only understand about half of what Auden writes, so note to self: don’t read Charles Williams’s poems). It’ll be quite a head trip, but I think at least once before I die, I’ll have to read something by Charles Williams. Right now, I’m eying his “theological thriller” novel Descent into Hell.
I added him to the list after Lovely Sami Anne commented on my last post about authors I plan to read and recommended his books Slaughterhouse Five and Cat’s Cradle to me. I’m not terribly familiar with him or his work, but he sounds fascinating. He would have to be to write this.
Frankly, I’m just sick of hearing constantly about North and South and Wives and Daughters and having no idea what they are about.
Neil and I have already been introduced: as you may recall, last November, I posted a recording of him reading his short story, “The Man Who Forgot Ray Bradbury.” I thought it was terrific, which convinces me that I ought to read some of his books too. Gaiman’s work is definitely outside of the ordinary for me: after all, the majority of his work is either horror, fantasy, or somewhere in between. After several recommendations, I think I will try either Coraline or The Graveyard Book.
In my experience, Charles Dickens has been rather like coffee or The Beatles: everyone else in the world seems to love him, and I could take or leave him. I’ve tried a few of his books, but couldn’t seem to stick with any of them. Little Dorrit was too slow. Great Expectations came at an inopportune time, when I was juggling about four books, so this one got lost in the mix. And frankly, I’m just sick to death of A Christmas Carol (which is a shame, because it really is a wonderful story. If I had been left to read it on my own without being reminded of the plot a trillion times every December, it would probably be one of my favorite books). But, I’m not giving up on Chuck just yet. I’ll give him at least one last go before I write him off altogether.
Really, it all started with this quote:
Avoid fear too, though fear is only the consequence of every sort of falsehood.
That quote became a sort of mantra for me and is still one of my most favorite literary quotes, though I still have never read the book it comes from (The Brothers Karamazov). I think I will either love Dostoyevsky or detest him. We’ll see.
Any author who will write this must be worth the time of reading:
CAT, n. A soft, indestructible automaton provided by nature to be kicked when things go wrong in the domestic circle.
— from The Devil’s Dictionary by Ambrose Bierce