For the last couple of years, I’ve taken up a task originally proposed by Brian Lindenmuth, now of Spinetingler Magazine. He suggested that, in December, book bloggers should compile lists of authors whose work they’d read for the first time during the preceding 12 months. This might encourage others to try something new as well.
It has certainly been interesting to track my “discoveries.” This year I read roughly half and half old and new books, and multiple works from authors such as Erle Stanley Gardner, William Campbell Gault, Ellery Queen, and Ernest Tidyman (whose John Shaft private-eye stories are, in my opinion, far better than the movies made from them). Of the 2010 releases I’ve enjoyed since New Year’s Day, more than a third came from first-time scribblers or wordsmiths whose efforts I had not previously sampled.
To begin, here’s my 2010 reading list of novels by authors new to me. Debut works are boldfaced. Asterisks denote crime or thriller fiction.
• Rachel Brady (Dead Lift)*
• Massimo Carlotto (Bandit Love)*
• Dan Chaon (Await Your Reply)
• Sam Eastland (The Eye of the Red Tsar)*
• Lyndsay Faye (Dust and Shadows)*
• Carl Férey (Zulu)*
• Matthew Flaming (The Kingdom of Ohio)
• Leighton Gage (Dying Gasp)*
• Ernesto Gallo (Needle in a Haystack)*
• William Campbell Gault (The Dead Seed)*
• Anna Katharine Green (The Leavenworth Case)*
• Sara Gruen (Water for Elephants)
• Ellen Horan (31 Bond Street)*
• D.E. Johnson (The Detroit Electric Scheme)*
• Thomas Kaufman (Drink the Tea)*
• Michael Lawrence (I Like It Cool)*
• William Link (The Columbo Collection)*
• Jassy Mackenzie (Random Violence)*
• Ernesto Mallo (Needle in a Haystack)*
• Kevin McCarthy (Peeler)*
• Deon Meyer (Thirteen Hours)*
• Mark Mills (The Information Officer)*
• Zygmunt Miłoszewski (Entanglement)*
• Graham Moore (The Sherlockian)*
• Peter Quinn (The Man Who Never Returned)*
• Adam Ross (Mr. Peanut)*
• Mark Sanderson (Snow Hill)*
• Kelli Stanley (City of Dragons)*
• James Thompson (Snow Angels)*
• Keith Thomson (Once a Spy)*
• Ernest Tidyman (Shaft)*
And below you will find my roster of non-fiction works by writers I had never taken the opportunity to read before.
• Joseph J. Ellis (His Excellency:
• Neil Hanson (Monk Eastman: The Gangster Who Became a War Hero
• Michael F. Holt (Franklin Pierce)
• Jeffrey H. Jackson (Paris Under Water:
How the City of Light Survived the
Great Flood of 1910)
• Edward P. Kohn (Hot Time in the Old Town: The Great Heat Wave of 1896 and the Making of Theodore Roosevelt)
• James T. Kloppenberg (Reading Obama: Dreams, Hope, and the American Political Tradition)
• James Mauro (Twilight at the World of Tomorrow: Genius, Madness, Murder, and the 1939 World’s Fair on the Brink of War)
Usually, my annual breakdown is fairly well balanced between fiction and non-fiction, with a heavy emphasis on historical studies. This year, though, the scales tipped decidedly in favor of fiction, for reasons I can’t explain. I shall have to do better in 2011.
WHAT WERE YOUR DISCOVERIES? Anyone else who would like to try the “first reads” exercise is welcome to drop their list into the Comments section of this post. Or, if you make a list on your own blog, please provide a URL here, so that we can all visit it.
READ MORE: “Fresh Starts,” by Gary M. Dobbs (The Tainted Archive).