I’m generally the type of reader who, when I find an author I like, will read several of their books in quick succession. It’s fairly unusual for me to enjoy a book and then never pick up another of that writer’s works again. Yet, I’ve recently realised there are a few authors for whom I’ve done just that. On the flip side, I’ve also noted that there are some writers I’ve needed to “grow into” (Austen and Hawthorne among them), finding that if I didn’t appreciate their work on first exposure, that I did enjoy it five years later. Other authors whose work I haven’t been fond of may deserve a revisit on that basis. With these two ideas in mind, I’ve conducted a quick examination of the most prominent authors of whose work I’ve currently read only a single title.
Jane Eyre was one of the first ‘classic’ books I read growing up. Having focused mostly on fantasy novels up until that point (still one of my main genres of choice), I appreciated the differences of content and pacing in Brontë’s work. After finishing Jane Eyre, I quickly ‘borrowed’ my sister’s copy of Villette which, to this day, sits on my shelf unread. I have no explanation for this apart from the old adage “too many books, too little time.”
Although probably best known for Slaughterhouse-Five or Cat’s Cradle, I’ve only read Vonnegut’s Galápagos, which was personally recommended to me and which I absolutely loved. Yet, I feel like a bit of a bad former English Major for not having read Vonnegut’s best known works. While enjoyment of one of his books is reason enough to read more of them, Vonnegut’s reputation for self-referential work also makes me feel like I’m missing out by not having read every single title.
Like most American high schoolers, I had to read The Great Gatsby for class. Although I enjoyed it at the time, I’ve never revisited Fitzgerald’s work. My recent acquisition of a copy of his complete novels may be about to change things…
Unsurprisingly, the only Nabokov I have yet to read is his most famous, Lolita. However, having worked closely with a young woman who wrote her thesis on Nabokov, I’m assured that what I should read is Pale Fire. This, and Ada or Ardor have both been on my tbr list since graduating from uni. It may be time for another book jar.
Hemingway is one of the few authors who I’ve truly struggled to read. The book was The Old Man and the Sea and I simply remember finding it achingly repetitive for such a very short book. I believe I also took exception to the sparse style at the time. However, having been all of fifteen, I expect that it’s time to revisit “Papa” with a new found appreciation for straightforwardness in prose.
I struggled with McCarthy for many of the same reasons I did so with Hemingway. In fact, when I read All the Pretty Horses I remember complaining that it was too Hemingway-esque. This was a number of years ago now and my recent accidental viewing of The Road before reading the book (it was on television and I got sucked in before realising what it was) has me thinking that, similar to Hemingway, it’s time to give McCarthy another go.