Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.
2015, I’m afraid, hasn’t been a banner year for reading in general, let alone reading new authors. I tend to stick to the tried and true, but I did manage to find some intriguing, new-to-me authors this year. These aren’t all necessarily favorite authors of mine, but I do think they and their work are worth mentioning, for one reason or another. So, without further ado, here are the top five authors whom I read for the first time this year (in the order I found them).
1: Charles Williams
While my opinion of Williams himself has soured since this May, when I read his novel War in Heaven, it’s still a terrific book written by a terrific author. I probably learned more about Providence and the nature of evil from those 200-odd pages than I could from a boatload of sermons on those topics. That’s in addition to the fact that, though I know this is probably some of his least complicated work, I rather enjoyed the quirky style of the writing.
2: Chaim Potok
After hearing about Potok’s My Name Is Asher Lev through another blog, I picked it up earlier this summer. While I’m in no hurry to read Asher Lev again (plot lagged in places, overall tone was more depressing than I’m willing to put up with twice), I do love Potok’s writing itself. His prose has a dream-like quality to it, one that I love from fiction authors. It may take some time, but I do plan to read some of Potok’s other fiction in the future.
3: Seamus Heaney
I began reading Heaney’s poetry a few months ago, after Corey at The Ink Slinger recommended his translation of Beowulf to me. For the record, I still haven’t gotten around to reading Beowulf, in part because, after finding out that Heaney was a poet himself and reading some of his work, I’ve been having such a ball with that, I haven’t had time for Beowulf. You already know that I’ve never been a big fan of modern poetry, but Heaney is different: he surmounted my anti-modern prejudice and has quickly become one of my most favorite poets of any era.
4: Michael Longley
In reading things by and about Seamus Heaney, the names of some other contemporary Irish poets kept cropping up. One of the most persistent was that of Michael Longley, a friend and colleague of Heaney’s who, along with him, was one of the main members of a writing club known as “The Group” (think The Inklings but with a few women and more Catholics 😉 ). After browsing through some of Longley’s poetry at The Poetry Foundation and on this site, I’m sorry I didn’t discover him years ago. This man is brilliant—a bit hard to read sometimes on account of the bloody nature of some of his subjects, but like Heaney, he moves me more deeply than I thought any modern day poet could.
5: Louis MacNeice
My foray into Irish poetry yielded up one more gem, this one calling itself Louis MacNeice.
I had heard of MacNeice before, and somehow, I always got him confused with the American poet Archibald MacLeish. Having hated* MacLeish’s “Ars Poetica” when I was assigned it in high school, I stayed away from MacNeice for a long time, thinking he was the poet who inflicted “Ars Poetica” on me two years in a row. He was not that poet, in fact, and his own poems turned out to be right up my alley (or “up my street,” to all my readers in the UK ;-)). He was a friend and collaborator of W. H. Auden, whom I love, an influence on Seamus Heaney, whom I also love, plus, what I’ve read of his work turns out to be fantastic. With that case of mistaken identity out of the way, I think Mr. MacNeice and I will get on just fine.
Which authors did you read for the first time in 2015? Were they good? Let me know in the comments.
* This was before I really got into poetry. I don’t hate “Ars Poetica” now, but I don’t quite like it either. I much prefer this poem.