Carol
Carol asked:

Should I read David Mitchell's other books before reading "The Bone Clocks?"

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Brian Gore You may not need to read them, but I suspect afterwards you will want to read them. The characters and stories stand alone, but the superb writing and interesting worlds persist.
Gerhard Go on, take the plunge. Ignore all the reviews. Just dive in and follow Mitchell to the edge and beyond. No passport needed ... just curiosity, and an abiding love for quirkiness and the quotidian.
Matt absolutely. "bone clocks" is probably the second weakest book he has written next to ghostwritten. i would read "jacob de zoet" and "cloud atlas" and then maybe "black swan green."
Tess Yes and no. I'm sure it would be a rewarding experience to read them in order, but I had not read any other Mitchell, and I had a great time with this book!
Cecily I agree that Bone Clocks is his weakest, so I wouldn't start with it. It is the second of a planned trilogy, the first being The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet, so it makes sense to read those two in relatively quick succession.

As for the others, part of the fun of Mitchell is spotting the links between novels, but I don't think it matters too much what order you read them in, though publication order is no bad thing.

Of the others, Black Swan Green has the fewer significant overlaps compared with his other works. So far. That may change.
Geoff I would say yes, read them in order if you can. Mitchell has described them all as being parts of an 'Uber Book' so it makes sense to do so and there are links that emerge that add to each book's impact.

If you don't have time for all of them, I would at least read 'The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet' before 'The Bone Clocks'.
Dave No. They each stand on their own. Mitchell will cross-reference some other book with a mention of something (it's a little like watching a Hitchcock movie to see in which three frames The Master will appear!), but it's no more than that... Even considering 'Ghostwritten' (agreeing with somebody else) as his 'weakest' book, it's amazingly good compared with other authors' 'weakest books.' Just take the plunge, as somebody else suggested.... Mitchell is the most consistently good and entertaining author that I have read in the last 15 years...
Kevin No.
Even if there is an Uber book, the order doesn't matter that much. Time is not a straight line per se.
Delores I just finished TBC. This is the first book of his I've read. I enjoyed it but understood going into it that not all of it would make sense at first. I'm interesting in reading more of his work and appreciate the suggestions from others in this conversation.
Harry You should absolutely read The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet first; The Bone Clocks contains major spoilers for that one! Otherwise I don't think the order is that important, characters from other books pop up here and there but for the most part the order doesn't matter.
Corinna No need! However, I agree with Brian Gore - you'll want to! That is what happened with me, I read Cloud Atlas first (had a hard time getting through the first 50 pages, but ended up loving it) then read The Bone Clocks, and eventually read everything he's written.
Elaine Cloud Atlas is a better read.
Paul Frandano Cloud Atlas. Cloud Atlas. Cloud Atlas. Then (and only then) Black Swan Green. Black Swan Green. Black Swan Green. Then rest a bit. Then resume your tour through his work in whatever order you please.
Shoddy23 I personally came to Mitchell through 'Ghostwritten' when it first came out and enjoyed it immensely, so i recommend you start at the beginning and work chronologically. If you're 40 something you will find 'Black Swan Green' an enjoyable nostalgia trip and valuable insight into Mitchell's past, and an 'amuse bouche' before the mindblowing 'Cloud Atlas'. I prsonally found 'Number 9 Dream' poor in comparison, however, and even poorer soon afteerwards when I discovered Murakami. Part of the fun is in finding links not just between Mitchell's works, but between his and those of others. Anyone who has read 'Cloud Atlas' would instantly recognise the prose style in Russel Hoban's 'Riddley Walker', for example, and 'Number 9 Dream' is copycat Murakami. If I were better read I reckon I would probably find bits ot Twain and Swift in there too. I haven't read 'The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet', but after perusing this thread and enjoying 'The Bone Clocks' will give it a go.
The No. Trust me. Don't waste your time or your money. There are better books to read. If you want to read something by Mr. Mitchell read Slade House. I recommend it because I read it. It is a good novel. But this lengthy one I don't recommend.
Brent Morrison I myself read The Bone Clocks first, and then decided to see what all the hype was about ... read Cloud Atlas next, then Number9 Dream, then my favorite so far, The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet, now working on Black Swan Green. Totally out of order, and I do wish I had read them in publishing order, but I don't think it matters much, really. Mitchell's is a strange universe, regardless. Dream was probably the weakest I have read, although the 'Goatwriter' tangents blew me away.
Amy You should definitely read THE BONE CLOCKS before you read SLADE HOUSE. Thematic material is shared heavily between the two and the appearance of a beloved recurring character in SLADE HOUSE needs no explanation at all once you have read THE BONE CLOCKS.

With regard to Mitchell's other novels, there is no real need to read them before starting TBC. There are recurring characters but the storylines and thematic material does not interlink in a way that makes reading them in order particularly important.
Alistair Candlin I think this book is a fine one to start with.
Lawrence I didn't. And I don't think I had to. Enjoy!
Sarah R I don't think you need to read his other books first. The plots aren't dependent on prior knowledge of characters in previous books, and they don't give anything away. I think bringing back previous characters was another way for David Mitchell to explore connections people have (which is one of his defining themes), but hearing him talk, you know there is no grand, over-arching meta-plot.

I loved "Black Swan Green" very much as a way to get to know the author. If I were going to do it over, I would probably read that first. It's his coming-of-age story--kind of like "the Catcher in the Rye," only enjoyable!
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