Monday, November 2, 2009

The Unread Authors List

I was browsing at Barnes & Noble this past weekend, and came across a book in the New Releases section titled Crossers by a writer named Philip Caputo. I was tempted to buy the book, both because it sounded interesting and also because I have another of this writer's novels (Acts of Faith) on my shelf, albeit unread. Like many book dorks, my Unread Shelf seems to grow in volume at about the same rate my Read Shelf does.

So, I resisted the urge to purchase Crossers, essentially avoiding banishing it to join its buddy in Unread Shelf purgatory. I should just read Acts of Faith first. But it got me thinking about the authors like Caputo, across whom I seem to keep stumbling and making mental notes to read soon, but haven't gotten to yet. So, here is a list of three other authors on my personal Unread Authors list.

1.) Jonathan Lethem, who just published a new book titled Chronic City, is probably the most well-known and illustrious resident of my Unknown Authors list. I've heard nothing but wonderful things about Lethem's Motherless Brooklyn and The Fortress of Solitude. After reading this fellow book blogger's write-up of his trip to a Lethem signing, I'm even more amped to check him out.

2.) I'm not sure quite what to make of Neal Stephenson, whose 1,168-page novel Cryptonomicon I've had on my Unread Shelf for several years. Stephenson is eclectic...and prodigious. He's published everything from cyberpunk-thrillers (Snow Crash), to futuristic sci-fi geek-o-ramas (Anathem), to a massive trilogy of historical novels about the 18th-century scientific revolution (The Baroque Cycle).  From what I've heard, Stephenson is extraordinarily erudite, but also verbose and, at times, too clearly in love with his own writing. But his fans are passionate and loyal, no matter what genre he's writing in. I tend to think any writer that inspires that sort of following is worth a shot.

3.) Finally, Diana Gabaldon is the author of the Outlander Series, a seven-book historical about a time-traveling Scotswoman named Claire and her beau James Fraser, and their adventures navigating the historical events of 18th and 20th century Scotland. I'm sort of a sucker for long historical series like this — I loved John Jakes' North and South series, the Shaara's Civil War trilogy and Herman Wouk's Winds of War and War and Remembrance. So I bought the first novel in the Outlander Series titled Outlander last year, with the goal of reading one book in the series every year. But I haven't cracked Outlander yet, mostly because a few people I've talked to (all women) who read and admire the series describe it as "romance." Yikes! Yesterday, though, I had an e-conversation with a fellow book blogger, and she suggested that guys might really enjoy the series, too. So, now I have renewed hope that I would like it. 

Have you read any of the authors above? Any advice on which writer or books I should move to the top of my priority list? Who is on your Unread Authors list?


  1. I have not heard of any of these. Diana G is supposed to be incredible.

    My unread list...
    Gena Showalter
    JR Ward
    Richelle Mead
    LK Hamilton

  2. I've read Diana Gabaldon--she is awesome!

    I think my most embarrasing unread author is Charles Dickens. I've got two of his books here in my TBR pile though, so I'm planning to read him soon.

  3. I would suggest reading Stephenson's Baroque Cycle before you read Crypto, there are some characters and historical events in the Cycle that play minor roles in Crypto. I submit to you that Stephenson is no more in love with his writing than any other author I've listened to or read, he really just does it better, I think you will become a fan, also. I also see that you have read several interesting historical war novels, I have a couple of suggestions for you, Tim O'Brien's 'The Things They Carried' a compilation of Viet Nam short stories, and of course, Joe Heller's 'Catch 22.

  4. @Dr. Atomix - Thanks for the comments on Stephenson. Like I said, he inspires some passion among his loyal fans! I loved 'Catch 22' - it's one of the few books that made me laugh out loud.

  5. I read Stephenson's Quicksilver and it was a fascinating read but really hard for me to get through. At times it was pretty tedious and when I finished I was happy overall but I notice that I haven't picked up the next one. My husband just read Crypto and he struggled through that one until the end. Some of the passages he read to me were just ridiculous, IMHO. One in particular was a description of a character eating cereal that went on for a couple of pages...

    Katy, I'm with you on Dickens. I got halfway through David Copperfield in high school but that's it. I just picked up A Tale of Two Cities though.

    I'd definitely be interested in a guy's opinion of the Outlander series. When I thought about it, the only people I know who've read them are female and I can't figure out why! I mean, the relationship between Claire and Jamie is a huge part of the plot but in no way does the series belong next to books covered by images of Fabio, ick.

  6. Cryptonomicon is one of my favorite books. It's a masterpiece of math and magic and history, and despite its massive length, it absolutely flies by. From looking at the types of books you like to read, I think you'll like it.
    I've had the Baroque cycle sitting on myself for quite some time now; hopefully I'll be getting to it soon.
    It's weird that I can't think of any authors that I've been meaning to read. I know once upon a time I had a list, but I've been moving around so much in the past 6 years that all of my books are randomly all over the place, so I can't even look at them to check.
    I guess I have heard great things about Jonathan Lethem and have been wanting to read something of his, so maybe he counts for me.

  7. Wow - these comments are fascinating. Thanks, Jamye and brizmus. I love the divided opinions on Stephenson. Several pages on a guy eating cereal seems silly, indeed, but then in the next comment, it's described as a "masterpiece." The plot thickens.... ;)

  8. I just finished Chronic City and reviewed it:

    It was the hardest book for me to review so far. I couldn't make out if I liked it or not for some reason. Kinda did kinda didn't. So that make it hard to write about.

  9. Thanks for the comment. I just read your review on Chronic City - nicely done! The line that stuck out to me most, and actually makes me really want to read the book, is: "Lethem has written a very long and detailed portrayal of modern city life." Not sure why I'm so intrigued by that idea, but I generally like books like that (Netherland, A Fortunate Age, etc.) And, I do like a good heavy read from time to time.

  10. I'm reading The Lost Symbol but being distracted by 9 Dragons. How do you like Dan Brown's new book?

  11. Frankly, I wasn't much of a fan. Didn't think it was nearly as good as The Da Vinci Code. I just finished it last night, actually, so I'll post some thoughts later today.

    What do you think of it?

  12. I read Gibaldon. Blech. I absolutely don't see what all the hype is about. I did read Caputo's Rumor of War as part of a Vietnam seminar I took in college, and it was EXCELLENT. Or, at least, it was excellent when I was 22.

  13. I haven't read the other two, but I did the third one. I like Outlander. It's long, but it's worth the journey...carpal tunnel and all that. I think most people have a problem with one scene where Jaime spank Claire for running away...but reading it in context, and the time period, it's jibes with the story. And no, I am not a proponent of beating your runaway wife. For the purposes of the story, it fits.

  14. I tried to read Quick Silver the first of the Baroque trilogy three times, as I did like the story (at least the first part) but I had to put it down as Stephenson did a poor job of explaining the back story of the "civil war" that was taking place. I do believe he was talking about the Protestant Reformation but was never quite sure. It is as if the reader was supposed to figure out or know what was going on. When I heard the novel moves to time travel, I decided not to try again. Not that I have anything against time travel, it was just I was expecting something different.
    Speaking of time travel after years of nudging from friends I read Outlander this last summer. I found it to be a very long romance novel that was cute, but not outstanding. Then again I am not much for romance novels. I really can't say I agree that this is a book a man would like, unless he likes Scottish history. If you do read it I would be interested to hear your opinion of the book.

  15. Oh gosh. I have tons of these. And I don't know how you read fast enough to keep it at the same rate as your unread books piling up...this is foreign to me as my unread is a ever growing tower.

    Some of the my unread authors I keep meaning to read are Jeffrey Eugenides, A.S. Byatt, Sarah Durant, Ayn Rand, Orhan Pamuk, and Niccolo Machiavelli. The list is ridiculously long though. Not quite as long as the list of books I keep meaning to get to though...

  16. I notice you have The Pillars of the Earth in your longest books read list--Did you enjoy it? Then you might enjoy the Gabaldon. The premise is interesting and the history is fascinating... yes, the "romance" is hot, but it's not the main element.