Sunday Salon – Reading Thru Author’s Canon

Posted 7 November, 2010 by Trish in Reading Nook / 27 Comments


The original plan was to comb through my shelves this weekend and write up a recap of all your great comments on taming the shelves and picking your next read.   A bad shopping experience yesterday, though, sent me to bed to watch my Law & Order: SVU backpile while drinking a Sonic creamslush.  So…the shelves are still untouched.  Maybe next week. 

In glancing at the shelves, though, I can’t help but notice that I tend to collect books by authors–whether I’ve read the author or not.  I have several Joyce Carol Oates but have never read one of her books!  But I also collect authors’ books when I’ve read the author and have had a good experience.  Collecting books by authors you enjoy isn’t necessarily unusual.  I bet most of you do the same. 

But, the strange thing?  I hold on to these books and only allow myself to read maybe one a year.  Crazy?  Kind of.  But what if I read through them too quickly and then am left with nothing by this author?  This is especially true for authors who are no longer writing or have died.  But what about the others?  What if they suddenly stop writing?  Then I’ll be left with nothing.

Pleasure delayer?  Possibly.  So…Sunday’s Question:
Do you like to read through an author’s canon?  Or do you like to read a variety of books just testing one or two from an author?  And more importantly, am I the only one in the world who delays reading books by an author she loves for fear that I’ll run out of new things to read?  Need an example?  Margaret Atwood.  I totally pleasure delay in reading her books.  What if she stops writing (nevermind the fact that she’s a pretty dang prolific writer)?  Please tell me I’m not the only one!

Looking Back to Last Week:
-You guys told me how you pick your next book
I broke the news that I’m pregnant and you overwhelmed me with congrats!
-Finally I reviewed Brothers Karamazov
-And shared a recipe for Peanut Butter Cookies with a Hug

Looking Forward to Next Week:
Other than the first The Odyssey update Monday, I don’t have anything planned.  Maybe a good thing as I’ve been feeling a little overwhelmed lately trying to keep up with the ole blogosphere.  There are several posts I’d like to write, but whether I find the time is a different story.  I may just allow this week to be a quiet week.  We’ll see!

Hope you’re all having a lovely Sunday.  Any fun plans for today?

27 Responses to “Sunday Salon – Reading Thru Author’s Canon”

  1. I do the exact same thing!! I have that fear of running out but also feel good knowing I have them and then feel like I should focus on reading something else to get those out of the way so I can *enjoy* the author whose books I’m collecting. Isn’t that crazy? (Joyce Carol Oates is also one that I collect and I’ve only read one of her books!)

  2. I do that, too! Jane Austen’s Emma has been unread on my shelf for years… I know she’s not writing anything else and I don’t want to run out. Pretty silly though. I’ll read Emma in 2011!

  3. I buy books by an author that I have liked her/his other books. Then they sit in my TBR pile forever. Some have been there over a year. I do the delayed gratification thing too. Lately everything I have been reading has not affected me like it used too. I am reading more but I still feel like I am in a slump. lol I am working on my goals for next year and it is going to really hard to stick to them but I have approached burn out when it comes to review books. :(

  4. There are very few authors that I collect. Nabokov, Maugham, Zola, Woolf. Those are the only ones I can think of off-hand. I’m not even sure I’d keep every book by the last three of those. In fact, Nabokov is the only author I keep books for when I don’t like the books. Strange.

  5. I’ve got that weird penchant for collecting authors whose books I’ve never read in addition to the authors I have read and enjoyed. Oddly enough, Joyce Carol Oates is one those authors I’m collecting but not actually reading, too. I collect lots of books by one author, but I’ve never really deliberately read through an author’s canon, especially not all in a row. I like to have a variety because I’m afraid I’ll get tired of even the best authors if I read too many of their books in too short a time span. So I guess it’s fear that keeps me from reading an author’s canon, too, just a different *type* of fear. ;-)

  6. Amy

    I have collections by authors I’ve only read one book by, or none, but I feel like I will likely read them. I also have a few favorite authors whose work I am trying to make last. Like Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie – I’ve been reading one book a year, and can only hope she comes out with another soon!!!

  7. I have a variety of eclectic reading/buying patterns :) Yes, I have purchased books (plural) by an author that has been highly recommended, and yet have not read any of them —yet.

    I have recently come to realize that I buy books for the future, rather than for the present. I books that I think I might like “to read someday” For some reason I am afraid that they won’t be available or I won’t be able to afford them when I will have the time to read them, so I buy them now. Not sure why or how I started thinking this way, but it has definitely allowed me to grow my personal library over the past two years.

  8. *Jenny – Ahhh yes, the old “I should read all these books I don’t really want to read so I can just have books I want to read on the shelf.” Laughing out loud here…

    *JoAnn – Oh yes, it’s especially tough with the authors who are no longer with us. Emma is a fun one–maybe my favorite of Austen (though I haven’t read her all either because stock is limited!). Hope you enjoy.

    *Brittanie – Like you I’ve kind of been in a slump and have mostly stopped taking in review copies. 2011 is going to be my year of reading just what I want to read! Maybe that’d help you, too.

    *Amanda – Well, if you were me, you’d keep those books in hopes that next time you read them they’re better. ;) I know you’re more sensible than that, though!

    *Megan – So three of us so far for Joyce Carol Oates. Kind of funny, isn’t it? And good point about getting tired of an author’s work. I hadn’t thought about that, but it’s a great point! Especially if books tend to run similarly (Atwood’s feminine themes?)

    *Amy – Yes, Adichie is a great example of a wonderful author who I don’t want to gobble all her works up right away. Jeffery Euginedes is another who I really wish would come out with something new!

    *Molly – “Yet” is the key word, huh? ;) Interesting about buying books for the future rather than present! If I find a bargain book or something tough to find, I have to get it in case I won’t find it later, but I’m not sure that’s the same.

  9. I can’t wait to read your first Odyssey post. I, of course, am loving it. :) As for authors, I’m different. I rarely read by author or buy by author even when I love the book I read by a particular person. I actually consider this a failing. :)

  10. I like to read everything my favorite authors write, but lately it seems like I never have time to. I hope you’re feeling better today!

  11. Megan and Trish I agree with you on spacing out books. I started reading Georgette Heyer for the first time this year and quickly found I cannot read too many in a period of time so I am spacing them out. I made the mistake of trying to read the entire Amelia Peabody series by Elizabeth Peters in a row and it did not work. I got sick and quit reading after around book five. They became all the same to me. :)

  12. I’m reorganizing my shelves now because I’ve conquered the back bedroom and turned it into a reading room. I spent this morning figuring out what books I’m moving to the back bedroom and what books I’m keeping in the nook area. Imagine my surprise when I realized I have so many Alice Hoffman books (when I’ve only read one) and Carol Goodman (see prior parenthesis) and . . . and . . .

    So what do I do?! Part of me is not overly anxious to read any of them right now; I have so many other tasty books on my TBR pile. So do I PBS them? That would be the logical thing to do, wouldn’t it? Ah, but then anxiety sets in. What if I decide to read them IN THE FUTURE and I have to hunt them down again.

    Please. Just. Shoot. Me. :P

  13. I read with absolutely no pattern. When I still bought books I collected series like crazy, but never read them immediately. I am completely unable to pin down when I read certain things. There are authors who I want to read everything by, but I don’t think fear or running out is what keeps me from it.

    Also, I think I’m gonna add your looking back to last week to my Random Friday posts. Well, looking back to MY week, not yours.

  14. I usually read a variety of books, testing a few books from an author’s cannon to see if I like them before reading more of their books. While I am a fan of Charlotte Bronte, I confess I have only read Jane Eyre with the hope of reading another of her books. Same thing goes for Dickens, but find that his books are too dense and they aren’t really meant to be read all at once.

  15. You know, what a coincidence, just yesterday I was thinking of buying something by Joyce Carol Oates, just to see :)

    i hope you are feeling better, do not stress yourself up a lot, just be easy on yourself. :)

    Oh well, I like collecting books, I read bloggers going crazy about, and do not read them in fear of not liking them. Aargh! And yes, recently I felt fear on finishing the Sookie Stackhouse books – oh well, I will not have anymore guilty pleasures after i am done :(

    wish I was nearby, I would have helped you clean up :) :) Could have stolen some books in the process LOL!

  16. I’m a big canon reader too – always have been – but I tend to think of it as being an “author completist.” But lately I do more accumulating than actual reading. However, you’ve inspired me with your “taming the shelves” talk, and I’m hoping to make that a project during some of my holiday time off!

  17. I collect books as well. There are quite a few books and authors on my shelves that I have never touched, but I know I will want to read them one day. I told my husband one time that I feel this insane urge to at least own them now. I have this crazy fear that one day those books won’t be there and I’ll need them. So I collect them now. He thinks that’s crazy and it probably is, but I need all of Willa Cather’s works, you know? :)

    I’m looking forward to The Odyssey posts. I hope its going along okay for you. :)

  18. This might sound odd, but I’m only just starting to realize that I might like authors, not just books. I’ve never really sought out other books by an author after enjoying one of his or her books. It makes it tough to answer the question, “So, who are your favorite authors?” Recently I realized how silly that is, and I’m trying to change my ways.

    I do have collections of books by different authors. Sometimes I’ve read a few of the author’s books and then bought others, and sometimes I’ve never read a single one of an author’s books (Orhan Pamuk and Kazuo Ishiguro come to mind). I’m glad I’m not the only one!

    As for saving books for later…since I haven’t really been loyal to particular authors in the past, I can’t say I’ve really spaced out an author’s books to make them last. I might start, though, if I manage to pick myself some favorite authors!

  19. I do dole out books by authors I love when I know there will be no more. Ah how I was lost when I finished my last Jane Austen.

  20. Me too! Especially if they are series books. While my husband and I were at the bookstore this weekend, I wanted to get a copy of Michelle Gagnon’s first book for her to sign–I haven’t read any of her books yet, mind you–and I found myself nearly buying the entire series (hubby was the strong one and said no). I can’t tell you how many series I own where I’ve only read one or two books, if that, and yet I have most of the books in the series. I do the same with authors whose books I’ve enjoyed who aren’t series writers.

    When it comes to my reading habits, I do sometimes read series books back to back, but generally I like to break my reading up and read a variety. Often with the intent to go back and read the author’s canon if I liked the book I read enough.

  21. I definitely know that feeling, LOL. For me, it’s Sarah Waters. Can you believe that I’ve only read one of her books so far (Tipping the Velvet) despite that I’ve heard nothing but raves about her books? Then again, I also like to read a variety of books from various new authors. I think as long as the premise sounds good to me, I’ll just grab it! :P

  22. *Trisha – I’m really enjoying The Odyssey as well—wish the sections weren’t so long so I could read faster! ;) And interesting you consider not reading authors’ canon a failing! Certainly there are enough authors out there to just read bits of each!

    *Bermuda – LOL—yes, feeling better. Was just moping and whining. ;) There’s so much to read, sometimes it’s hard to focus on an author.

    *Brittanie – Yes, getting tired of an author or genre is another reason why I like a lot of variety in reading. It would be awful to burn out on one of your favorite authors because you read them too frequently! I can see this happening easily depending on the author.

    *Christina – I know, it’s the never-ending dilemma. I have three Richard Russo books but have never read the author—have heard fantastic things. Do I keep them all or just the ones that are most popular? Or get rid of all of them and focus on books I know more about. The ultimate conundrum of too many books and not enough time. ;) Secretly I’m glad so many of you have the same problem I do! :P

    *Lisa – While you have a ton of variety in your reading I do see the same authors creep up now and then! And variety is so important—too easy to burnout!

    *Melissa – Ha! I couldn’t imagine reading all of Charlotte Bronte’s books back to back—or any classic author for that matter! I agree that they shouldn’t really be read all at once. If only we had more time to read everything we wanted, huh?!

    *Veens – I’ve only read one short story by Joyce Carol Oates but it must have made an impression! Have you read the Stephanie Plum books by Janet Evanovich? If you like series—especially something for guilty pleasure—you might try those after you’re done with Sookie! And I wish you were nearby too, Veens. Halfway across the world is just too far! ;)

  23. *Florinda – Love the term “author completist”! I think a lot of bloggers could do some taming of the shelves! :D Hopefully next week I can get a post written with everyone’s suggestions on how to tame the shelves as they were really great—common sense some of them, but do bibliophiles really think with common sense when it comes to books?

    *Allie – You’re the second person to mention not being able to find the books later—interesting idea. I hope print books don’t become obsolete—would make me sad! Now I have something else to worry about—thanks! ;) Odyssey is going great—I think most everyone is really enjoying it!

    *Erin – Oh Erin—you must read Kazuo Ishiguro! If you have Remains of the Day, bump it up on your list! ;) Funny that you’ve never thought about reading authors before—only books. I tend to have an easier time noting my favorite authors rather than books—sometimes it’s a combination of several things across several books that makes an author special (Cormac McCarthy is like this…wouldn’t consider his books my favorites but he is a favorite author). Strange, huh?

    *Lisa – Wouldn’t it be great if something new was discovered by Austen or some of the other favorites who are now long dead? Even some live authors I wish would come out with new stuff!

    *Lit Feline – I hadn’t thought of series and reading through them as an author’s canon because I’m not a big series reader, but you’re right that they’re the same! How sad was I when I read the last Harry Potter! ;) And what a good hubby Anjin was to keep you in line. Ha!

    *Melody – Haha! Sarah Waters sure has been making the rounds lately, huh? She’s one that I grab books by if I see them on the discount shelves just because everyone loves her. I’ve only read Fingersmith but really liked it. Have Tipping the Velvet and hope to read it one day. You’re not alone!

  24. OK I will try Stephanie Plum books by Janet Evanovich for sure. Thanks for the suggestion :)
    All my love from halfway around the world :o)

    Hope you are feeling better.

  25. I save books from authors who write series. I hate having to wait for the next book in a series to come out so I usually try to stay a couple books behind…even when I know the series is coming to an end. I’m weird like that :) And the only book that I’ve read by Oates was We Were the Mulvaneys and I’ve got to admit that I wasn’t that impressed with it. Although I read this preblogging so it is kinda hazy as to why I didn’t like it all that much. Have a great week and congratulations again on the pregnancy!!

  26. When I approach a new to me writer, like say Virginia Woolf, who has a lot of books, I tend to read the authors acknowledged best works first-then if I like them I will mentally commit to read more and if I in fact never read any more at least I have hopefully read their best work-I am now reading through the works of Kenzaboro Oe and I am near the end of his in English works and I have slowed down as some how I do not want to rush the end-