Try Again Authors for 2023

Every year – and by that I mean as of last year and now on – I give myself a list of authors I’d like to try again. Authors where my experiences of their books have been sufficiently unappealing that I feel no urge to read their next book, but where my perception of the author is that I should look beyond that and see if I can’t make a connection after all. Maybe I think I picked it up at the wrong moment, or that I think I can train my tastes to find the value, or that if I try something else by them it could work because I like some of what they do.

Normally I pick a list of 11. This year, in a fit of massive overambition, I’m doing two 11s. Fantasy and non-fantasy. It’s unlikely I’ll make this list work entirely but hey, shoot for the stars, right?

With no further ado

Fantasy 11 to Try Again

Michelle Sagara – I got 20% through her The Hidden City and was finding things to enjoy, but not quite fast enough to keep myself interested. Since I enjoy how she writes I think it’ll be worth revisiting her works, either picking up where I left off with this one or trying something with a faster sounding plot.

Anthony Ryan – I picked up The Pariah when tired of protagonists who are trying to convince you they’re so gritty they subsist of a diet made solely from their own chin hair. Needless to say, I didn’t get on with it. Still, lots of people like his work and I liked the writing, so I’ll take a poke at something else.

NK Jemisin – I’ve read The Killing Moon by her. It’s okay, aggressively so. I think her reputation merits a second shot. I don’t know whether that’ll be The Fifth Season, her most hyped work, or The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, which sounds more me.

Shannon Chakraborty – I talked about this one yesterday, so oops. But Kingdom of Copper was fine, kinda good, but not good enough to put up with a love triangle for. It is good enough that I’m definitely up for reading about Chakraborty’s take on pirates though. Fingers crossed I get an ARC for this.

Glen Cook – Jodie’s original suggestion for the 12 from 12. I’ve tried both the Garrett PI and The Black Company so I didn’t want to do a retry of something I’d bounced off, but she did make me think about going back. The prose was the limiting factor in both so I’m expecting to bounce again, but you never know.

Melissa Caruso – I enjoyed so much about The Tethered Mage, but if there’s one type of person in this world I cannot stand, it is the person who is deeply angry and simply acts on that with no consideration of where others are in their life. I put the series on 11 to continue last year, and ran headlong into this fact, as the series’ deuteragonist is one of those types of people. So nope. Straight down. Learnt my lesson. I do enjoy Caruso’s writing (and writing thoughts on twitter) so I will look at one her other series.

William Morris – I tried The Wood at the End of the World (at least I think that was the title, not in a mood to look it up today) last year and found it really rather dull. Given his reputation as one of the founding fathers of modern fantasy I want to try him again, but I admit my expectations are low.

CS Friedman – Friedman has an excellent reputation for dark fantasy but my attempt at trying her works last year bounced off of a very odd piece of worldbuilding in the prologue. I’d like to give her a second go at some point.

Milton Davis – Davis is a man taking Charles R Saunders’ vision of adventure fantasy told from a black standpoint and running with it. I like that pitch. I tried Changa’s Safari by him and found the prose felt too blocky, for want of a better word. Since I seem to be very much in an adventure fantasy mood, now might be a good idea to pick it back up or try something else.

AK Larkwood – I really wanted to like The Unspoken Word. It was doing so much of the things I want to see done in modern fantasy. Unfortunately the characters were the sort of people to leave you pleading a migraine. I’m not sure right now is the best time to try Larkwood again, but I’m leaving this as a statement of intent.

Ed McDonald – I had the same problems with Blackwing that I did with The Pariah. But Ed seems a nice guy and I know he’s highly rated, so Daughter of Redwinter seems like a good time to try gain.

Non-Fantasy XI

Samuel R Delany – So as you may have already noticed, I’ve already done this one. Last year I stuck to a hardline “January reads not eligible”, this year I’m making things a little easier on myself. Delany’s reputation as one of the big names of the New Wave was reason enough to overlook a bad times with Tales of Neveryon, and so it proved with The Ballad of Beta-2 being the best thing I read in January.

Stephen King – I bounced off The Dark Tower a long time ago as it seemed okay but not as interesting as the other things I was reading. At the prodding of my friend Bean, I started Duma Key in January, which is very good in small bites so far.

Iain M Banks – His book on whisky is wonderful. Consider Phlebas just seemed very slow to get anywhere interesting. Couldn’t get on with the characters. I’ve no idea what I’d try next from Banks but he’s an author I definitely want to give a second chance too.

Dana Stabenow – Her ancient Egypt mystery Disappearance of a Scribe didn’t do it for me, but I don’t have enough mysteries set in ancient Egypt so I’ll happily take another swing.

Graham Greene – I like my spy fiction but don’t read enough of it. Greene’s The Continental Agent had verve but felt too depressing for me at the time. If the right mood swings by, I will definitely be trying again.

Charles Dickens – I read Dickens in school, like so many of us, and thought he was bobbins. Forget which book, but it’s the one with Gradgrind. His position as probably the most revered prose writer in the history of English baffles me. I think that does warrant a second go though.

Ellis Peters – Another blogger recently mentioned getting a haul of Cadfael books. It’s been ages since I read Cadfael! At the time, I took the view he was no Falco and wasn’t impressed, but what if I was wrong? In the words of Inigo Montoya, I must know, even if I suspect I must get used to disappointment.

Joseph Finder – Another highly recommend spy fiction novelist I’m interested in retrying. My first peek at the book I picked up left me thinking he loved his protagonist too much, but might be worth a look at another one.

Gabriel Garcia Marquez – Another one I’ve already started on. One Hundred Years of Solitude was a bounce long ago, but I’m making slow if steady progress now as a loose book club online is doing it. I don’t think it’ll ever be one of my favourite books, but there is something there.

Raymond Chandler – For all I love the idea of noir, I didn’t get on with Chandler on my first go. I can’t even remember which book it was. The same bookclub as above is doing The Big Sleep, so he’ll get his second go.

Ray Celestin – I started his mystery set in New Orleans and thought it was good but not as interesting as the other things I had going on, so I dropped it. I am considering coming back round to give him a second go though.

And that’s it. 22 authors to retry. Right now I’ve managed 3. I’m not sure I’m expecting more than 12 from these two lists but once again – aim for the stars.


25 thoughts on “Try Again Authors for 2023

  1. I loved The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms when it came out–couldn’t get past page 50 in the sequel. But I’ve been thinking about trying Jemisin again. Glad you mentioned that–good reminder.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Each book focuses on a different character from the previous (a bit like the Divine Cities from Robert Jackson Bennet, did you read those?)
        I enjoyed the trilogy and my favourite was actually book 2, although I couldn’t tell you why because I’ve just checked and read them 10 years ago(!)

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Aww, I love One Hundred Years of Solitude, but I know it’s one not everyone gets one with, especially since it can seem confusing at times.
    I recently unhauled The Tethered Mage unread. Seems that I probably wouldn’t have liked it though. So far, I probably have read and liked only one book with an angry protagonist who’s motivated by that anger.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think my thing with One Hundred is I’m finding it admirable but not immersive, so its taking me time to get through.

      Tbf, the angry person in The Tethered Mage is the secondary not the protagonist (who’s a lovely sparkly eyed vanilla heroine and I say that as someone who likes vanilla). But there’s enough of it to be a no for me and therefore probably a no for you too.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. It sounds like your first experience with Dickens was the same as mine. I had to read ‘Hard Times’ at school as well and did not get on with it at all. I’m still not on good terms with Dickens even after reading a few more of his works. The only one I don’t mind so far is ‘A Christmas Carol’. I hope your second attempt is a bit more pleasant.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Ooh, this seems like a fun type of reading challenge! I’m hoping to try Jemisin’s Fifth Season this year and it’ll be my first time reading her books. Ngl, kinda nervous about it! 😂 Garcia-Marquez is an author I’ve also been thinking about giving another shot to. I read Love in the Time of Cholera which was just alright and One Hundred Years of Solitude, which was… Not it for me… But I’m wondering if reading it with a group could make a difference. I hope you continue enjoying it and I hope you get lucky trying some of these authors again !

    Liked by 1 person

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