Posted by: Mish | June 7, 2010

Discovering Favourite Authors

I responded to a question yesterday, but uncertain whether my comment would disappear into cyberspace again, kept a backup copy here. Asked about discovering favourite authors, Carl at Stainless Steel Droppings split and posted the question in two parts:

A. Those that entered your life because of the referral of another person.
B. Those that were your very own discovery.

*”favorite” can be defined a number of ways and I am not a stickler on what that means. They might be authors that you have read and enjoyed for a long time or those you have just recently come to admire. For the most part I classify my favorites as authors I have re-read many times and/or have read several of their novels and/or cannot wait until their next novel comes out and/or cannot shut up about them.

So moving through the years, favourite authors I’ve discovered by chance or with a little help from my friends:

C.S. Lewis: Originally by chance or parental intervention I can’t remember, but I still have the boxed set of Narnia from my youth. In adulthood I came across Till We Have Faces and really liked it. I recently discovered he also wrote sci-fi and now have Perelandra and Out of the Silent Planet in the queue.

William Shakespeare: I discovered the Complete Works on my parents’ shelves and became hooked. I took a Shakespeare course in high school and then proceeded to study more of the Bard’s works as a theatre major in college, where the anthology was a required text- oh, darn.

Marion Zimmer Bradley: Thanks to a friend I read the Sword and Sorceress anthologies in high school. They introduced me to fantasy as a genre and worlds just opened. I’ve always been interested in mythology and folklore and so fell in love with the Mists of Avalon books. I have yet to read something by MZB I don’t like.

Mercedes Lackey: I first read her stories in MZB’s anthologies, but didn’t get hooked until college when a friend introduced me to her Valdemar series. I’ve read several other short stories and novels by Misty, but Valdemar is my favourite. It’s fun fantasy where I can visit friends- like Bastien in the Neverending Story.

Ursula Le Guin: A friend recommended the Left Hand of Darkness, which is tied with the Lathe of Heaven as my favourites by Le Guin. Her translation of Lao Tzu’s Tao Te Ching is simply poetic. Short stories, young adult, essays…I won’t say no to more.

Steven Barnes: A friend mentioned a fascinating alternate history where Islamic Africa is in power and mainly the Irish are enslaved. It’s the only time I ever ordered a book in advance and Lion’s Blood was worth the wait. I liked it and its sequel Zulu Heart better the second time around because I could focus more on their intricacies. Charisma and “the Locusts” are also really good and I need to read more by Barnes.

Neil Gaiman: I glanced at a friend’s Sandman books but didn’t know his name or writing until I happed upon Neverwhere in a bookstore some years later. I’ve since read other books by him, but still have yet to read his graphic novels. I’ll get to them eventually.

Most recently, Catherynne Valente and Seanan McGuire who – You talk too much, you talk too much, you never shutup, blah blah blah.

Robert Heinlein has the potential to become a favourite. I thoroughly liked 6xH, Stranger in a Strange Land, and Tunnel in the Sky and have several more books in the queue. I read the first two thanks to friends. A few years ago in an anthology I read George R.R. Martin “the Way of Cross and Dragon” and it stuck with me. Thanks to some banter and Carl’s review of Game of Thrones, I’ll be reading Wild Cards sooner than later and then possibly a lot more.

Kits on my chair

This week’s Monday Musing asks, “Where is your most often used (favorite) reading spot? Do you have more than one? What makes your favorite spot just that?” and to share pictures if possible.

Since childhood I’ve always read in bed before turning out the light. Otherwise I usually read in my comfy chair. The 5 usurping kits have been out of the house for 4 years now and I get to see 3 of them on occasion. Sadly having neither, I also read in a friend’s backyard or porch where I can enjoy the sunshine and the view.

How did you discover your favourite authors? Where are your favourite places to read?

River View

©Photos are copyright of Mish



  1. I think I can think my mother for my favourite author: Enid Blyton! I was introduced to the world of Noddy when I was three years old, and haven’t looked back since.

    Am a big fan of CS Lewis as well, who was introduced to me by a friend at university. I feel like I’ve lived in a bubble, as I only read the Narnia series some five years ago!

    Big fan of Shakespeare but we studied him in school, so don’t think I can actually attribute that to any friends.

  2. Better late than never. Narnia has to be fresher in your mind than mine. I remember loving the series, but not much else besides Lion, Witch, and Wardrobe. Narnia’s on my re-read list.

    I meant referrals in general, not necessarily by friends. I may have started reading the Bard on my own, but high school lit classes fed the fire.

  3. I think I mentioned it in my post, but I am so grateful to my senior high school English teacher for introducing me to Shakespeare. I didn’t find her a particularly likable teacher overall, yet she gave me two great gifts, a love of Shakespeare and the introduction to one of my favorite reading experiences ever, A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens.

    It will be interesting to see what you think of Wild Cards. My friend Jeff, who is the huge GRRM fan who bought me Game of Thrones all those years ago, likes them well enough but it isn’t his favorite. Most of the stories, as it goes on, are only edited by Martin, not written by him. If you liked what you’ve read, and of course I’m biased in this opinion, I would really suggest you pick up Game of Thrones and give it a shot.

    I have a really comfy leather chair that is certainly one of my favorite reading spots. I also enjoy reading in the chair out on our back deck in spring and fall when the weather is nice.

  4. I owe a lot to my teachers, likable or not. I haven’t read any Dickens in years. A Tale of Two Cities is in the long TBR line.

    I picked up Wild Cards mainly to read another of Martin’s short stories. That the anthology grew out of a gaming campaign is a bonus. Your biased recommendation is under consideration.

  5. Yes, my definition is quite biased, though backed up by the thoughts of a Martin fanatic. On the other hand, we also both know another Martin fan who really likes all the Wild Cards stuff and just recently fell hard for the Song of Ice and Fire series.

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