Who Do You Read?

I hate to be asked “Who is your favorite author?” There is never any one writer I can pick out as my favorite.

A much better question is “Who do you read?”

There are more than two dozen authors whose books I buy as soon as they come out, knowing they will be a “good read.” They are from many different genres. For the months between March and June of this year, my “want list” includes C. S. Harris, When Maidens Mourn (historical mystery), Rhys Bowen, Hush Now, Don’t You Cry (historical mystery), Amanda Quick, Crystal Gardens (historical romantic suspense), Nora Roberts, The Witness (romantic suspense), Mary Jo Putney, No Longer a Gentleman (historical romance), Nora Roberts, The Last Boyfriend (romance), Charlaine Harris, Deadlocked (paranormal mystery), Sara Poole, The Borgia Mistress (historical mystery), and Charles Todd, Unmarked Grave (historical mystery). I also have another list, of authors’ names to check for regularly to see if they have anything new out. In addition to those just mentioned, they are Kelley Armstrong, Jo Beverley, Jim Butcher, Jayne Castle, Carola Dunn, Kerry Greenwood, Kim Harrison, Joan Hess, Steve Hockensmith, Linda Howard, Jayne Anne Krentz, Elizabeth Lowell, Margaret Maron, Seanan McGuire, Elizabeth Peters, Laura Resnick, J. D. Robb, Susan Sizemore, and Lauren Willig.

I also reread old favorites, books that are on my keeper shelves. Sometimes I read straight through an entire series. I’ve done this in the not too distant past with Rhys Bowen’s Evan Evans series and Charlaine Harris’s Sookie Stackhouse Southern Vampire novels. Some of my keepers go back a long way. I’ve posted about girls’ mystery series here already. As a teenager, I moved on to raiding my father’s bookshelves. He had all the Perry Masons. And he had historical novels. I devoured everything he owned by Thomas B. Costain, Margaret Campbell Barnes, and Frank Yerby. I read Desirée and Forever Amber and Gone With the Wind. When I was older, I discovered two more wonderful authors in the historical novel genre, Anya Seton and Dorothy Dunnett. When I found out that Dorothy Dunnett also wrote a caper-style mystery series, I wanted to grow up to be her! That’s why I picked the pseudonym I did.

I used to love the whole gothic/woman-in-jeopardy genre and I still have some of my favorites by Phyllis A. Whitney, Susan Howatch, and Barbara Michaels, but with the exception of a few like Michaels’s Ammie, Come Home, most of these don’t hold up very well. By the late 1980s, when I was first attempting to make a living by writing, the historical mystery genre had come into its own. I was writing romance novels, but I was reading the adventures of Brother Cadfael and discovering books by Elizabeth Peters, Anne Perry Lindsay Davis, and Sharan Newman. As Kathy Lynn Emerson, I was fortunate enough to be able to write two historical mystery series of my own, as well as a how-to book that is my take on the subject of writing historical mysteries, augmented by contributions from about fifty other historical mystery writers. I’m not writing historical mysteries at present, but I’m certainly reading them. A whole new crop of excellent writers has emerged. I just read an ARC of Joanna Campbell Slan’s Death of a Schoolgirl, set in 1820, and loved it. It will be in stores in August. There are also some superb crossover novels, stories published as historical fiction but containing a strong mystery element. Elizabeth Loupas’s The Second Duchess is one I’ve mentioned here before. I could go on and on, but I think I’d better stop with what I’ve written above—my not-so-short answer to the question of who my “favorite” is.

How hard would you find it to pick just one favorite author?

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13 Responses to Who Do You Read?

  1. Impressive list of books, Kaitlyn. Our choices overlap in some ways — it’s interesting to see. Hoping to add Vicki Doudera and all the rest of us MCW’ers to that list real soon!

  2. Deanna says:

    Hi – I am so happy to see that someone else enjoyed the Johnson Johnson mysteries. They were good reading.

    Thanks for writing, Dee

  3. MCWriTers says:

    When I was a youngster working as the librarian’s assistant, I got first dibs on three writers whose books I couldn’t wait to get my hands on: Phyllis Whitney, Victoria Holt, and Mary Stewart. I still reread Stewart’s Merlin series. Still think they’re brilliant. On the other hand, Frank Yerby seemed absolutely illicit, as did Forever Amber.

    I’ll read Laura Lippman and S.J. Rozan faithfully. Lee Child. And my fellow bloggers, of course. That’s about all the time I have, except on vacation. Recently, I walked into the bookstore and said, “What do readers love?” I came out with an armful of books, none of them mystery.

    But yes, at libraries, readers always ask the question: Who are your favorites? I try to mix it up, depending on the audience. Introduce them to a few new writers, name a few faves who’ll bring a sigh of agreement.


  4. I should also have mentioned what I’m reading now. If I don’t read anywhere else, I can count on 20 minutes a day while I’m on my stationary bike (arthritic knees hurt worse if I skip this; pain is great to provide motivation). My bookmarks are in two novels, Fire Engine Dead by Sheila Connolly and A Discovey of Witches by Deborah Harkness. I’m enjoying both. Which one I pick up depends on my mood.

  5. Mare F says:

    I love Dorothy Dunnett’s Johnson Johnson series and I’m alarmed that my copies are in very sad shape. I reread them about every 5 years and it’s just like visiting a very old, and much cherished, friend.

  6. Gerry Boyle says:

    Yikes. I feel like such a slacker. I’m going to save this and head to the library and introduce myself to some of these new writers.
    My list, even if I had better memory, would be shorter. I’m going to have to go back to the shelves and make a list. Just finished a Ken Bruen, in preparation for an upcoming visit to Ireland. And Patrick McCabe. And Ingrid Black. With a trip to Scotland on the same itinerary, had to read an Ian Rankin. Any other suggestions?

  7. Thanks so much for the kind mention, Kaitlyn. Jane Eyre is my favorite book of all time,so picking up where the classic left off was both daunting and exhilerating. I hope those who love historical fiction will give my new series–The Jane Eyre Chronicles–a try.

    By the way, has anyone here read Phil Rickman’s Merrily Watkins series? It’s set in the UK, and it’s absolutely fabulous! Merrily is a Deliverance Minister, a modern day exorcist in the Anglican Church. But it’s not so much about “woo-woo,” as it is about brilliant psychologically-based crimes. (I know, that’s awkward. End of my writing day! I’m all out of words.)

  8. MCWriTers says:

    Gerry…It’s historical, but Anne Perry’s Sins of the Wolf is set in Edinburgh, and it’s my favorite of all her books.

    Kaitlyn…see what you’ve started here??


  9. Jan Gonder says:

    Kaitlin, I’ve read all the “Face down” books and loved them, as well as the contemporary books. MCWriTers, I headed for the same books as a teenager. My mother also introduced me to Dell Shannon, Nero Wolfe, and Nancy Drew, among many others. Hard to pick just a few — I see Elizabeth Peters up there; then Ellis Peters comes to mind, and — there goes the journey to the library web site! I do have to say that after a career of teaching English and ESL, it took me a while before I could face some of the classics again….

  10. Dru says:

    I read so many books and I’m often asked who my favorite author is and I can’t say because it will always be the author of the book I’m reading at that moment.

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