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Episode Discussions > Ep 124; What does it take for you to give up on an author?

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message 1: by Thomas (new)

Thomas (thomasathogglestock) | 251 comments Another question from this week's episode that I am dying to know the answer to is how much effort do you make before giving up on an author and which authors have you given up on?


message 2: by Alex (new)

Alex | 7 comments Two authors I gave up on are Ian McEwen and Richard Ford.

For McEwen, I first read Amsterdam and didn’t find it special and not particularly Booker worthy. Then I read Atonement and was blown away and felt so haunted that it encouraged me to keep on reading. I read Solar and February and both were ok, but again I just felt that his story telling is for the most part overrated and I just don’t have the time to give him another chance.

Richard Ford, on the other hand, I just cannot understand how people don’t find his writing so wretched and slow and pointless. I read the Sports Writer and blah and then Canada, which should have had a more engaging plot (a bank robbery) but was even worse!! I know people throw so much praise at Independence Day but I just have no interest.


message 3: by Ruthiella (last edited Apr 24, 2015 10:43AM) (new)

Ruthiella | 272 comments Alex wrote: "Two authors I gave up on are Ian McEwen and Richard Ford.

For McEwen, I first read Amsterdam and didn’t find it special and not particularly Booker worthy. Then I read Atonement and was blown awa..."


Hi Alex,
I also read Amsterdam first and was underwhelmed. I have since read and liked Atonement and Sweet Tooth, but I didn't love-love either. I can certainly take or leave McEwen. I don't want to spoil any of these three, but it seems to me that McEwen likes to trick his readers in to believing one thing and then pulling the rug out from under them. I am not sure if I admire that or if it annoys me.

Never tried Richard Ford...not yet!


message 4: by Ruthiella (new)

Ruthiella | 272 comments Loved hearing from Simon Thomas from Stuck in a Book. I have been following his blog for a few years now and think he is great. He should have plugged his collaborative website, Shiny New Books as well.

Karen Joy Fowler – glad I gave her another chance. The Jane Austen Book Club was just so-so, but I loved We Are All Beside Ourselves. I would definitely be interested in reading more from Fowler now based on my love and admiration for that book.

(A) 3 strikes, they’re out: Isabelle Allende (House of the Spirits, Eva Luna, Of Love and Shadows). I read these years ago, maybe now I would feel differently if I tried again, but I didn’t warm to her writing style. Also, Magic Realism is typically not something I like either.
(B) 3 strikes, they’re out: D.H. Lawrence (Women in Love, The Rainbow, Sons and Lovers). I read Women in Love while living in a foreign country where it was one of the few books in English available to me. I would have read pretty much anything in English at that point. The other two I read (like Thomas) because of the Modern Library’s 100 best 20th century list. When Lawrence describes a landscape, I do find his writing beautiful, but when he describes people, I have no idea what he is going on about and unfortunately, none of these books are plot heavy, they are more character driven…so that is pages and pages and pages and pages of dialogue and interior monologues that pretty much amount to gobbely gook for me.

Authors where I knew from reading only one of their books that I would not like anything they write: Paul Coelho and Khaled Hosseini. I apologize to all of Coelho and Hosseini’s fans, because they both have tons of them. But I hated, hated, hated The Alchemist and The Kite Runner.

Authors where I liked the first book I read but none of the subsequent books: Anita Brookner (sorry Thomas). I loved Hotel du Lac but Falling Slowly and Rules of Engagement…not so much. When I first read Hotel du Lac, I thought that the ending was uplifting but after having read Falling Slowly and Rules of Engagement, I suspect I mis-read it and it was meant to be as depressing as Falling Slowly and Rules of Engagement.


message 5: by Alex (new)

Alex | 7 comments oh don't get me going on Coelho!! The Alchemist was horrible. I am more sympathetic to Hosseini (haven't read him though) but his books appear to be more substantial.


message 6: by Thomas (new)

Thomas (thomasathogglestock) | 251 comments I love the honesty this topic inspires. I laughed out loud at Ruthiella's comment on Anita Brookner and thinking she may have misread it the first time.


message 7: by Thomas (new)

Thomas (thomasathogglestock) | 251 comments I love the honesty this topic inspires. I laughed out loud at Ruthiella's comment on Anita Brookner and thinking she may have misread it the first time.


message 8: by Louise (last edited Apr 26, 2015 05:31AM) (new)

Louise | 154 comments wow 3? If I read a book, and really don't like the writing/style - there are no 2nd chances! (David Foster Wallace, Tracy Chevalier, Milan Kundera)

If I like the writing but the story doesn't interest/appeal to me, I might give another book by the author a try ;Michel Faber and Roberto Bolaño for instance, are authors I generally like, but both have written books that I have given 1 or 2 stars.


message 9: by Amy (new)

Amy | 3 comments I give an author one chance before I mentally put them on my "NOT to be read" list. Blacklisted authors include: Jodi Picoult, Tracy Chevalier, Faulkner, John Green, and William Golding.
I also have vague and varying prejudices that will prevent or at least highly discourage me from reading an author to begin with. If the author is alive, that's immediate points off. If it's one of those books about super-manly things like nuclear weapons, spies, or submarines, (these books are easy to spot because the covers are always some obnoxious combination of metallic silver, black, and red and the author's name is in ridiculously huge bold font) there is no way in hell I'm reading it. If the book has been super-hyped as a "tour de force" or "a redemptive tale about the power of forgiveness " I would probably rather die than read it. I also will not read anything about sports, sisters, or the Middle East.


message 10: by Katherine (new)

Katherine | 2 comments I am willing to give authors a second chance, depending on the circumstances. I can think of multiple authors where I really didn't like one of their books and I'm glad it wasn't the first one I had read or I might have missed out on some of their other great books. Some examples:

- I really enjoy Jo Nesbo's Harry Hole series and I read them in the order they were published in the US, which meant I started on the third book I think it was. I had read most of the series before the first book was available and I didn't like it very much. I'm glad it wasn't the first book I read.

- I love The Secret History and The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt, but did not really like The Little Friend

- I was really enjoying In the Woods by Tana French, until the ending really let me down. But I'm glad I continued with her books because I felt they got better as they went along and I ended up really liking them

- Ken Follet has to be one of the most schizophrenic writers I know. I don't know how the author of the Pillars of the Earth/World Without End wrote something like Hammer of Eden. One of the most laughable books I have ever read

An author I can think of that I just don't think I'll read again is Sarah Waters. I had read The Little Stranger and thought it was okay and with all the buzz I was expecting something great from The Paying Guests and I didn't like it. I don't think there will be a third chance.

I also don't like Thomas Wolfe and doubt I would read something by him again.


message 11: by Elizabeth☮ (last edited Apr 28, 2015 03:51PM) (new)

Elizabeth☮ I read Big Brother by Lionel Shriver and was so put off by her word choice and the ending I know I will never read anything else by her. Ever.

I also tried reading Richard Ford one time and I really don't think his style of writing is for me.

I will typically give a second chance to most authors as I know every book isn't going to be the same. I think style comes into play sometimes and that can be a reason to quit reading.


message 12: by Ruthiella (last edited Apr 29, 2015 01:27PM) (new)

Ruthiella | 272 comments Amy wrote: "I give an author one chance before I mentally put them on my "NOT to be read" list. Blacklisted authors include: Jodi Picoult, Tracy Chevalier, Faulkner, John Green, and William Golding.
I also ha..."


Hi Amy, your exclusion of "sports, sisters, or the Middle East" reminds me of Simon's refusal to read books about horses, on boats and/or with talking animals. But as far as I remember, he has in fact read books containing these elements and enjoyed them nonetheless. I was trying to think of a book that would go against these; in particular I Captured the Castle was pretty great and it features (among other things) the relationship between two sisters.

I laughed at your avoiding any book hyped as having the "redemptive tale about the power of forgiveness" That would put me off too and it is one more reason to skip The Kite Runner, in case anyone is looking for such a reason.


message 13: by Ruthiella (new)

Ruthiella | 272 comments Katherine wrote: "I am willing to give authors a second chance, depending on the circumstances. I can think of multiple authors where I really didn't like one of their books and I'm glad it wasn't the first one I ha..."

Hi Katherine, in case you were considering giving Sarah Waters one more chance (three strikes rule), I would suggest you try Fingersmith. I liked The Little Stranger, but I admit, it grew on me in the weeks and months after I read it (and I did not get any of the pre-hype...I just picked it up from the Library on a whim). Re: The Paying Guests, this was my least favorite book of hers thus far. Not her best work IMO.

So, if you are inclined to give her one last try, read the first 50 pages of Fingersmith and if that does not grab you, walk away from Waters.

I know what you mean (well, I think I do) about In the Woods. I have only read that and The Likeness and will probably read more from the series later. But the fact that I may never know what the final resolution of Rob's story line is drives me nuts!


message 14: by Katherine (new)

Katherine | 2 comments I can deal with uncertainty in some genres, but I feel like the hook of that book was the mystery and those typically have a resolution. I wonder if she wrote herself into a corner and just didn't know how to get out of it. I had a friend that emailed her after the book to ask if the ending would ever be resolved. She was pleasantly surprised that French did email her back, but I can't remember what she said now.

Although farfetched, I liked The Likeness. My favorite of hers is Broken Harbour (the fourth book. I think three and four were the best. I liked the fifth too, but not as much as the others).

I don't know about Waters - The Paying Guests really left a bad taste in my mouth. I might need more time before trying Fingersmith.:P


message 15: by Richard (new)

Richard | 47 comments I thought I'd given up on Gabriel Garcia Marquez after I abandoned One Hundred Years of Solitude many years ago, but then a dear friend gave me a copy of Love in the Time of Cholera as a gift and I liked it a lot. I still don't understand the appeal of One Hundred Years of Solitude, but that's partly because I don't usually like magic realism.

I would ordinarily give an author more than one chance, but I disliked The Lovely Bones so much that I doubt that I will ever read another Alice Sebold novel.

Richard Ford is a writer I avoided for a very long time mainly for the ridiculous reason that I'm not interested in sport and I assmed, because he wrote a novel called The Sportswriter, that his books would not be for me. However, I recently decided to read The Sportswriter after hearing (and enjoying) an interview with Ford, and I loved it.


message 16: by Amy (new)

Amy | 3 comments Richard - I'm right there with you on Alice Sebold. I read The Lovely Bones several years ago and disliked it very much. I seriously doubt I will ever hazard another one of her books.

I read Marquez's Love in the Time of Cholera after picking it up on a whim in a used bookstore. I didn't know anything about him or his books, so I went in having no idea what to expect. I wound up loving it, particularly his musical yet simple style of writing.
I haven't read One Hundred Years of Solitude, but it's on my TBR list.


message 17: by Alanna (last edited May 05, 2015 06:16AM) (new)

Alanna | 9 comments Richard wrote: "I thought I'd given up on Gabriel Garcia Marquez after I abandoned One Hundred Years of Solitude many years ago, but then a dear friend gave me a copy of Love in the Time of Cholera as a gift and I..."

His book Chronicle of a Death Foretold is one of my favorite books ever, but a lesser-known one. It's not got any magical realism--it's about a man who's about to be killed by a woman's brothers for having premarital sex with her. Not tons of plot, though. Maybe give it a try?

More on topic, I hated a book called The Clockwork Scarab and The Storied Life of AJ Fikry so much I'll likely never give either author another chance.


message 18: by Chris (new)

Chris | 59 comments I thought this topic was really interesting, mostly because I had never really thought about it before! But I did read David Sedaris's book, "Naked," a long time ago and thought it was just ok and avoided him for years. Figured he just wasn't for me. Picked up "Me Talk Pretty One Day" and realized what I'd been missing!

I'll give an author about two tries, although subconsciously; I think I tend to gravitate toward the book rather than the author.


message 19: by Tom (new)

Tom | 15 comments In Sedaris' case, you might be better served by an audiobook where he (Sedaris) reads his own work. I find his books very enjoyable that way so you might want to check it out.


message 20: by Ruthiella (new)

Ruthiella | 272 comments I agree that Sedaris is great on audio. Well, at least When You Are Engulfed in Flames was (the only one I have listened to). His delivery is great.


message 21: by Richard (new)

Richard | 47 comments Alanna wrote: His book Chronicle of a Death Foretold is one of my favorite books ever, but a lesser-known one. It's not got any magical realism--it's about a man who's about to be killed by a woman's brothers for having premarital sex with her. Not tons of plot, though. Maybe give it a try?

Thanks for the suggestion. I think I will read some more Marquez some time, and this one sounds interesting.


message 22: by Esther (new)

Esther (eshchory) | 135 comments I normally give an author one chance. I'm not unforgiving but life is too short and there are so many great books out there.
If I own another by the same author they might get a 'freebie'.
But there are some authors I will never go back to:
Andrew Davidson. He just seemed to be enjoying himself too much describing the pain of burn treatments in The Gargoyle. At first I assumed there was going to be some meaningful redemptive purpose but the whole story was pointless and left me feeling dirty as if I had been forced against my will to collaborate in something I found morally repulsive.
I didn't think much of Love in the Time of Cholera either so I doubt Gabriel Garcí­a Márquez will get a second chance.
And Eragon was just so poorly written and dull I gave away the second book in the series without even cracking the cover.


message 23: by Karen (new)

Karen (bookertalk) People who are not getting a second chance:
- Dan Brown. What possessed me to read Da Vinci Code I have no idea but I draw a line at anything else
- Kate Morton - 10 pages of the Forgotten Garden and I knew she was not for me
- Ernest Hemmingway. The guy agonises over every word so much that the prose is completely robbed of all spontaneity of feeling.


message 24: by Mimi (new)

Mimi | 9 comments I've read two Amy Bloom books which is, apparently, two too many


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