Obsessions with the work of Prolific Authors

When I was growing up I often became fixated on the work of particular authors. After reading one book by them that I liked, I would go on to read every other book of theirs I could get my hands on. This habit followed me into my adolescence, when I binged on series by Tamora Pierce, and even my late teens (I distinctly recall a whole summer of John Irving). These days I tend to prefer mixing things up a bit and will rarely read more than three books by one author back-to-back. Yet, I don’t think I’ll ever forget the ones who so riveted me growing up:

bunniculaJames Howe

The Bunnicula books are one of the first series I remember reading all the way through (or at least, I thought I had read all of them – I now discover there are at least 7!). Many of the books that captivated me as a child were told from the point of view of animals – you may note the trend continuing below.

 

mouse and the motorcycleBeverly Cleary

While probably best known for the Ramona books, I always preferred The Mouse and the Motorcycle series, loving not only the connection between a human child and the adorable rodent protagonist, but also the idea that an inert object (the motorcycle) could be made to move through the pure power of imagination.

mossflowerBrian Jacques

Brian Jacques’ Redwall series was the culmination of my obsession with books told from animals’ perspectives. I read the first ten titles, at which point the speed of my reading outstripped the speed of their publication and I moved on to other authors. I do, however, still find myself daydreaming about those Redwall feasts – so many delicious sounding acorn dishes!

 

dragonsongAnne McCaffrey

When I was younger, Anne McCaffrey was the ultimate author to be obsessed with because she’d already written so many books. I began with the Harper Hall Trilogy (Dragonsong, Dragonsinger and Dragondrums) and then moved on to the many other titles set on the planet Pern. I remember being pretty confused about what the chronological order of the books was meant to be (this was pre-Wikipedia), but despite getting it a bit wrong I loved every minute. Although I eventually stopped reading the series (I believe I finished with All the Weyrs of Pern), I’m still impressed by how McCaffrey transitioned a world that my younger self thought of as strictly Fantasy (Dragons!) into one that was, in fact, Sci-Fi all along.

Since giving up the Pern books I’ve never delved ten books or more into any other author’s works. I’m sure this is partly to do with the fact that there aren’t many 10-book-plus series out there, but I think it’s also partly to do with both a need for variety and the unavoidable sense of loss a reader feels when they reach the final page of a very long, very loved series. It’s sometimes tough to let go of characters and worlds that have been with you for hundreds or thousands of pages.

Still…so worth it.

Liz Gillett

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