When One Finally Reads a Famous Writer

My cat Misty leaves John
le Carré’s name uncovered

Because we can only read so much, it might take years to try the work of some bold-faced names in the fiction realm. And when we ARE ready, we wonder if those authors will live up to the hype.

Or, if we for some reason have a negative impression of not-yet-read writers, we wonder if we’ll like their work after all.

In short, many people love the novels of famous authors, but, given that everyone’s tastes are of course different, we don’t know if WE’LL love their books.

All that was on my mind as I prepared to finally read a novel by John le Carré — who I’ve heard about for years (including in comments on this blog) and is considered a master of what might be called the international spy thriller.

The le Carré novel I chose at random was The Russia House, which I read much of last week (not finished yet). Well, le Carré delivered. He obviously knows his stuff — having worked in secret intelligence himself — and the characters are nicely fleshed out, the plot page-turning, the prose smooth, and the occasional touches of humor welcome.

Moving to other authors, many commenters in the early days of this 2014-launched blog raved about Liane Moriarty — whose first novel was published in 2004. So I belatedly started reading her books, and they totally lived up to the hype. Among her terrific titles are The Hypnotist’s Love Story, The Husband’s Secret, and especially Big Little Lies.

I also waited a long time to read Edith Wharton. I had the impression that the born-from-wealth Wharton focused mostly on high-society rich people in her books, something I didn’t find particularly appealing. But the first novel I read of hers, the riveting Ethan Frome, features non-affluent characters. And the Wharton books that DO focus a lot on the rich — such as The House of Mirth and The Age of Innocence — look at many of the wealthy characters with a jaundiced eye that partly stemmed from Wharton’s insider knowledge of her class.

Miguel de Cervantes? His Don Quixote was much more readable and funny than I expected from a 400-year-old novel when I finally got to it about a decade ago. Hermann Hesse? His Steppenwolf was depressingly entertaining in a way I hadn’t expected from a writer with such a “deep,” intellectual reputation.

Taking a brief detour into the short-story realm, there’s Anton Chekhov (also a playwright, of course). I finally grabbed two collections of his stories from the library five or so years ago, and was very impressed. Chekhov’s superb tales are not especially plot-driven, but are notable for their subtlety and psychological nuance.

John Grisham has been writing novels for more than three decades, but I didn’t read him until the 2010s — starting with The Client. I was hooked, and he’s never disappointed since. (Except for Calico Joe being so-so, don’t you know.)

Then there are super-popular series writers in the thriller/mystery/detective/crime realms. I was late to the party in trying Lee Child’s Jack Reacher books, Sue Grafton’s alphabet novels, Janet Evanovich’s numbered-title offerings, and Walter Mosley’s Easy Rawlins saga. All as good as I expected. Maybe not great literature, but written really well and hard to stop reading once you start.

Of course there are going to be mixed feelings or disappointments, too. When I finally read William Faulkner, there were novels I liked a lot (especially Light in August) and others I found near-incomprehensible (The Sound and the Fury). Marcel Proust’s In Search of Lost Time is beautifully written, but tedious enough for me at times to eventually stop reading it. James Patterson? Not impressed. Kate Atkinson’s work? Didn’t grab me, either. But of course the writers and novels mentioned in this paragraph are loved by many other readers.

Your experiences finally reading famous authors years later than you could have?

My literary-trivia book is described and can be purchased here: Fascinating Facts About Famous Fiction Authors and the Greatest Novels of All Time.

In addition to this weekly blog, I write the 2003-started/award-winning “Montclairvoyant” topical-humor column for Baristanet.com. The latest piece — which laments that a young participant in the Trump-incited Capitol riot was from my town — is here.

110 thoughts on “When One Finally Reads a Famous Writer

  1. True to my nature, I couldn’t help but smile at Misty casually leaning on the book with one arm, as though she/he is taking a break from reading. … Cats truly are beautiful, and mesmerizing, animals.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Teagan! Misty is quite a cat. (Then again, that could be said about almost any cat. 🙂 )

      Trivia is indeed enjoyable, and literature is among the “fields” where there is a lot of interesting trivia to be found.

      Best wishes to you as well!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Great post Dave, and a lovely discussion. I have been trying to get through the acknowledged classics since I turned fifty, since then have enjoyed Tolstoy’s War & Peace, Cervantes’ Don Quixote, Melville’s Moby Dick, Sawyer’s Huckleberry Finn (for starters) all of which exceeded expectations I’m happy to report. Thomas Mann’s Magic Mountain was more of a slog, as was Bleak House by Dickens, which was a surprise because I’ve enjoyed all the Dickens novels up to that point.
    But I also have tried to widen my international reading too, and read translations into English of Mishima, Tanazaki, Mahfouz, Xiaolong, Lu Xun, Pamuk, Murukami, Saramago, Knausgard and Ferrante, the latter two in particular both writing huge hit series which were highly addictive.
    Snow by Orhan Pamuk was simply breathtaking and I then read his Black Book, which was so disappointing.
    I was also diverted into the ancients, finally reading Virgil’s Aeneid which was quite superb and not dry which I had anticipated.
    I also enjoy non-fiction, and found Robert Caro’s The Power Broker to be one of the finest books it has been my pleasure to read, as a result I am now almost done on the his volume of The Years Of Lyndon Johnson which again is impeccable as a biography. A page-turner. I enjoy music writing too and have recently read David Byrne’s How Music Works and Lloyd Bradley’s history of reggae Bass Culture, both classics.
    And finally (!) I do try and keep up with the new stuff, and plug away at gaps – so please add The Confederacy of Dunces (one of my all-time favourites) Horses of God (brilliant Moroccan novel) The Sportswriter and Independence Day by Richard Ford, There There by Tommy Orange and The Sellout by Paul Beatty (recommended).
    Oh and Girl, Woman, Other by Bernadine Evaristo is quite brilliant !

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, magicman!

      Wonderful that you’ve been working your way through a number of the classics. The four you mentioned in your first paragraph are indeed memorable and live up to the hype (though I could have done without Tom Sawyer in the latter part of “Huckleberry Finn” 🙂 ). And your also doing a lot of international and some ancient reading — impressive!

      Robert Caro is indeed an amazing biographer who does tons of research and writes engagingly. I agree that “The Power Broker” is an incredible work, as are the first two volumes of the LBJ biography (the two I’ve read).

      And thanks for naming a number of other books! “A Confederacy of Dunces” is one of the funniest novels out there.

      Like

  3. Dave I was also late to the party in trying Lee Child’s Jack Reacher books , now i look forward to every book published in October.
    Good to know now the new author is going to make Jack Reaher ageless, chatty more but less physical with his fists.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I agree, bebe — it’s nice to always have a new Reacher book to look forward to each fall! And, as we’ve discussed, Lee Child’s brother Andrew seems to be a pretty good co-author/eventual-replacement author. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Misty I was planning to read John le Carré for a long time, but haven`t read any. but read his bio before and know his real name was David John Moore Cornwel, author of so many best sellers like Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, have even seen the movie .
    John just passed a few months ago and his wife died with broken heart after a couple of months . Valerie Eustace was the perfect partner in every way, was with him when He was writing his spy novels.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Hi Dave,

    Not only has it taken me a while to get to some authors, but it’s also taken me a while to get to this week’s blog! Sorry about that…

    I don’t know if it’s just me, but I feel like an author doesn’t really exist until I’ve read them. And so heavyweights like Tolstoy and Eliot didn’t even publish books until I was well into my thirties. So I wasn’t really late, right?

    You read both Lee Child and Liane Moriarty before I did so I guess I was later to the party than you were though I wouldn’t have even thought of them if you didn’t mention them as I don’t feel that I was late. Maybe they wouldn’t have even made it to my TBR if it wasn’t for the wonderful reviews from you, bebe, and KatLit.

    I am becoming aware of a big gap in my TBR though and that’s P.G. Wodehouse. Like so many people, I’ve struggled to find the concentration to read over the last year or so, and when I do, it’s often depressing. So even though I’m still trying to get through my list in some sort of order, I’m flirting with the idea of just doing fun stuff for a while and Wodehouse seems to be nothing but fun. I’m so scared of giving him a go though. What if I don’t like him? What if he’s too English? What if he’s too old and his books haven’t aged well? Or worse, what if I love him and my TBR blows out yet again!

    Dave, as always, thanks so much for getting me to think about the wonderful world of literature. And big thanks for sharing your photo of Misty the cat ❤

    Liked by 3 people

    • “Not only has it taken me a while to get to some authors, but it’s also taken me a while to get to this week’s blog” — great opening sentence, Susan!

      Funny line about authors not existing until you read them, but there’s a lot of truth to that in a metaphysical (is that the right word?) way.

      I greatly enjoyed Wodehouse’s Jeeves/Bertie Wooster stories, and think they could be very nice late-pandemic reading. But there’s of course no guarantee any reader will feel the same as another reader about P.G. or any author. 🙂

      Thank you for the excellent comment — and Misty thanks you, too, for mentioning the photo of him!

      Like

    • HA..Susan, you are not the only one, I just showed up.
      Too many distractions in life with the current awful political situations.
      Always good to read you !

      Liked by 1 person

  6. OMG! so many books. So little time.
    Let me see! I read Post Office by Charles Bukowski, about 2 years ago. I’d always wanted to read one of his books. Laughed like crazy, especially the first half!
    Then I started reading Ham on Rye, but didn’t finish it. I was enjoying it, but one day I picked it up from the ledge it was waiting for me on, and lo and behold….. a thousand almost imperceivable insects.
    I googled insects in books, and found BOOK LICE!!!!
    Yes, they exist, and can infest other books (I think they live off the glue in the spine)
    I sealed it, carefully, and threw out any nearby books, lest I get a book pandemic.
    I returned it to the library with a note on the book lice.
    About a month later, they were back. I used a magnifying glass, only to realize they were ants; the smallest ants I’d ever seen.
    I googled that, too. Will spare you the rest!
    Your cat is gorgeous!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Resa!

      Charles Bukowski can indeed be hilarious, as he was in the first half of “Post Office.” 🙂 I also waited a long time to read him, finally getting to “Hollywood.” Also hilarious, amid the constant drinking and other debauchery. 🙂

      So sorry about those book-inhabiting tiny insects. I laughed at your phrase “lest I get a book pandemic,” even though that bug situation was clearly no fun. 😦

      Thank you for the compliment about Misty!

      Liked by 1 person

        • Thank you again, Resa!

          “Hollywood” is a fictionalized version of Charles Bukowski’s experiences while/after writing the screenplay for the 1980s movie “Barfly” starring Faye Dunaway and Mickey Rourke.

          I have not read “Red Notice.” Just googled it, and it looks amazing! Kind of real-life John le Carré-ish? If I ever have time to start reading nonfiction books again… 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

            • Resa, I’m sure your love of “BarfIy” would increase your enjoyment of “Hollywood”! I liked the novel even though I’ve never seen the movie. 🙂

              I love nonfiction that reads like fiction!

              Like

  7. Surprisingly I just finished a book which doesn’t have great reviews but I quite enjoyed it. Last month I read Becoming after reading some wonderful reviews on Goodreads but it didn’t work for me. I read Grapes of Wrath rather late and it lived up to my expectations. So was the case with Jhumpa Lahiri. God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy quite disappointed me. At the end of the day I think reading is a subjective experience.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you, soniadogra!

      “The Grapes of Wrath” is definitely a magnificent novel, and I agree that Jhumpa Lahiri is almost always rewarding to read — her novels as well as her short stories.

      I liked “The God of Small Things” a lot; as you rightly and wisely noted, reading is indeed a subjective experience. 🙂

      Like

  8. I have felt during and after school days, a certain obligation to that ever-expanding canon of world literature that, if read, might make me a more cultured and informed person. It has been a lovely surprise, when, more than occasionally, I have derived pleasure and revelation from my exercising my obligation.

    But I admit I mostly read for pleasure, or at least sensation, so many books I feel I ought to read I have not, to this day. Still, I’ve made inroads.

    I read Emily and Charlotte Bronte’s most famous works for the first time in the last few years, and much of Stendhal, a man I’d been intending to tackle for quite a while. I am slowly getting through Arthur Golding’s 16th century translation of Ovid’s “Metamorphoses”, and most mornings lately, I try to read and comprehend a Shakespeare sonnet while my old computer is coming on-line. All I list above have been as good and engaging as I might have hoped they’d be, and I’m better off for having reading them.

    Trollope,Thackeray, Austen, anything of Wharton’s not titled “Ethan Frome”, etc., etc., etc., and so on: what lies ahead, should I live– barring of course, distractions such as a fellow I know I’ll read more of first: John D. McDonald, author of the Travis McGee detective novels. Like I said, I mostly read for pleasure.

    I think much depends on when and where in one’s own life one comes upon a famous writer’s books, and what appeals to the young may not appeal to the old, and vice versa. Generally, the famous are justly famous. I’m hoping most of the books I’ve put off will appeal in future years, and I hoping for the future years to read them in.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. My list thus far: Flaubert, Hemingway,Wolfe, the recently deceased Larry McMurtry, Doris Lessing, Reynolds Price. Re: all of them, odd as it may seem, I have no problems with their short stories. You might say I enjoy them as a snack rather than a full meal. So there’s no accounting for taste. Didn’t like Frank McCourt either but memoirs are not my thing even though I am currently reading one my sister recommended– Hollywood Park by Mikel Jollett. Great post as always Dave. Susi

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you, Susi!

      Well said, and that’s quite a list of writers! Some writers are indeed more appealing for their shorter work than their longer work.

      While I liked Frank McCourt’s “Angela’s Ashes” memoir I thought it was a bit overrated. And the two sequels were so-so.

      Like

      • Thanks for the likes. Every time I try to like back it brings up the sign in for WordPress, but I’m done with social media. I may rethink my list primarily because no one can persuade a reader from attempting a good try than the literary insights of other writers. For instance, when I watched this film clip (and I can’t wait to see the full documentary) Capote speaks of certain novel, such as Madame Bovary, as being a form of bitchery. Since I never looked at it from that perspective, I may revisit Flaubert and others. By all means, I’ll take bitchery over hostility any day esp the hostility we have so recently grown accustomed to. Bitchery is so much more civilized. Ha! Susi
        https://deadline.com/video/truman-tennessee-intimate-conversation-zachary-quinto-jim-parsons-voice-literary-icons-first-clip/

        Liked by 1 person

        • Sorry about that, Susi; the mechanics of WordPress can be “interesting” sometimes.

          “I’ll take bitchery over hostility any day” — totally agree with that! Hostility from the Trump crowd has been absolutely over the top the past few years. 😦

          Like

  10. Another most excellent post and great discussion, Dave. And of course, I digress for you have sent me on another expedition into thinking. What prompts us to read a certain type of book? Do we want to learn something, to share a story with others, to find solace, to find belonging, to escape? What constitutes a famous writer? I read a famous writer who provided a narrative that offered very little hope and a large dose of narcissism. This was my opinion, although there were many others who were inspired. Does famous equal the best? Put another way, does famous mean that this author is the best for me? Perhaps the timing isn’t auspicious? Sometimes stories need to be read at specific times in our lives. What came through this marvelous discussion was that there is a wide range of readers, each with a reading strategy. After reflection on your post, I have come to believe that we must find the reading strategy that works for us. As you said so eloquently “because we can only read so much….” John Le Carre adds to your thought with these words from Tinker. Tailor, Soldier, Spy: “There are moments which are made up of too much stuff for them to be lived at the times their occur.”

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Clanmother! Great, GREAT questions in your very thought-provoking comment. Topped off with that so-true le Carré passage.

      I’ll try to offer some answers — answers that of course would differ with different readers.

      I’ll often read a certain type of book based on recommendations from commenters here. 🙂 I read for entertainment, knowledge, emotional catharsis, to feed this blog ( 🙂 ), etc. Some authors deserve to be famous while others are famous for shallow reasons. I’ve loved reading some obscure authors, and lamented they weren’t better known. I definitely agree that a particular novel can resonate differently at different times of our lives.

      All in all, we all have and need our own reading strategies.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Here is one of my strategies for 2021. I have decided to read “Nothing to Be Frightened of” by Julian Barnes this year. I started to read it a few years ago and simply could not go forward. I discarded it out of hand, I confess and said so in a blog post. The blurb for the book reads “memoir on mortality that touches on faith and science and family as well as a rich array of exemplary figures who over the centuries have confronted the same questions he now poses about the most basic fact of life: its inevitable extinction.” I gave up on it because Julian Barnes did not seem to believe in the possibilities of miracles, of mysteries. BUT, every book opens us to new thought. I understand that he brings to the table notables such as: Michel de Montaigne, Jules Renard, Dr. Sheldon Nuland, Gustave Flaubert, Doris Lessing, Émile Zola, Somerset Maugham, Cicero, Wittgenstein. Am I ready? I am not certain, but it is the right time now.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Interesting example of a book you’re more willing to read now than a few years ago. I hope the experience will be rewarding, but of course there is no guarantee, as you alluded to. Wonderful that you’re willing to give it a try. 🙂

          Emile Zola is one of my favorite novelists!

          Liked by 1 person

        • Montaigne is so engaging and actively and freely intelligent that, if you haven’t read him, I recommend going directly to his own writings. He will not disappoint! (Not to say anything about Barnes, it’s just that Montaigne deserves better than to be but one of many names excerpted for his purposes.)

          I can’t quite bring myself to read a little book I’ve owned for a few years now, on what I have always presumed was a similar theme to Barnes’: Pierre Loti’s “The Book of Pity and of Death.” I shall have to seize the day before the day seizes me, but not today….

          Liked by 2 people

  11. Hi, Dave. Thank you for recommending George Eliot. I’ve read three of her novels and haven’t even gotten to your favorite yet. Her work was always listed on the recommended college reading lists, and you finally convinced me to read that particular “Famous Author.” Last year, I finally read a Pynchon novel, Mason & Dixon and was not disappointed! So many good picks in this thread, I’d better get at it….

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thank you, Mary Jo! Wonderful that you enjoyed the great George Eliot for the third time! (Am I remembering right that you read “Adam Bede,” “The Mill on the Floss,” and “Silas Marner”?) Yes, the longer “Middlemarch” and “Daniel Deronda” (Eliot’s last two novels) were her masterpieces, but any of the other three would be the masterpieces of many other novelists.

      I should try Thomas Pynchon again. I’ve only read “Inherent Vice,” which is probably not typical of his work, and had mixed feelings. I put “Mason & Dixon” on my list. 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

        • I definitely agree with your number-one choice, Mary Jo! I’m torn about the next two. “Adam Bede” is a more substantial, sprawling story, but “Silas Marner” is so sweet in its way (in its second half). I guess I’d put “Silas Marner” second with “Adam Bede” a very close third among those three novels. 🙂

          Liked by 2 people

  12. I was thinking about the big names I’ve read in recent years. My mind turned to ‘Girl, Woman, Other’ by Bernadine Evaristo which I really enjoyed. I haven’t read any of her previous 7 novels so no real benchmark.
    I looked over the rest of the Booker list and a couple of names popped up that I’ve read in recent years. Hilary Mantel was one of them. I only got so far into ‘Wolf Hall’, but really did love her writing style and not at all what I expected. Her character descriptions are quite exceptional I think. One day I’ll get round to finishing it – though I must admit to being very confused about all of the Thomas characters – but, really, quite an entertaining read.
    I loved Kate Atkinson’s first novel, ‘Behind the Scenes at The Museum’, but not read anything else by her.
    I had a go at reading Paul Auster one time. Gave up quite quickly….
    One book that sort of stayed with me and, until this morning, I’d quite forgotten who the author was and, at the time of reading, I wouldn’t have given much thought to his academic and literary status, was ‘The Human Stain’ by Philip Roth. Wiki tells me he went to Rutgers University – another NJ link coming up – which is where a few friends of mine went as well!

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thank you, Sarah, for the wide-ranging comment!

      I would definitely like to try Hilary Mantel’s work at some point. I’d also like to read Bernadine Evaristo after seeing your enthusiastic mention and just googling her.

      Of the authors I’ve read that you named, I also wasn’t thrilled when I tried Paul Auster — and I’ve had mixed feelings about the late Philip Roth’s novels.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I can imagine that Philip Roth is a little controversial nowadays. However, that’s my only experience reading him and only because it was a Book Group recommendation. However, I did find it a fascinating read.
        Evaristo has been criticised for her lack of use of punctuation, but I really didn’t find that a problem. It was just a fascinating snapshot of people’s lives.
        And glad to hear I’m not the only one who didn’t enjoy Auster’s work!

        Liked by 2 people

        • Sarah, as you might be alluding to, there was something rather sexist about much of Roth’s writing — among other issues. Of course, he was a great novelist in many other ways, and at times absolutely hilarious — especially in his earlier work.

          I’m okay with lack of punctuation and other writing quirks (such as Cormac McCarthy not using quote marks in his dialogue) if I like the book/author. 🙂

          Liked by 2 people

  13. There are a lot of names here that I must say I haven’t got to yet 😦 You’re right, there’s so much to read and only so much time to do so! Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina was probably the most recent “will this live up to the hype” book that I’ve read. I’m happy to say it did – a very good read, I got so swept up in it the length didn’t even bother me. And War and Peace is cued up on my Kindle, I’ll have to start finally chipping away at that 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thank you, M.B.!

      I very much agree that the lengthy “Anna Karenina” lives up to the hype, and I trust the even longer “War and Peace” will do so for you as well. (As has been discussed on this blog before, some of Tolstoy’s shorter work also totally delivers — including his novellas “The Kreutzer Sonata,” “The Death of Ivan Ilyich,” and “Hadji Murat.”)

      Liked by 3 people

  14. I must mention children’s author, Beverly Cleary, who recently died at the age of 104. I missed out on reading her early books as a child, which I certainly regret. I feel lucky that having my own children and then students gave me the opportunity and motivation to finally read some of her chapter books, such as the “Ramona” series! She is now one of my central author inspirations. And if you haven’t read her two autobiographies, you don’t know what you’re missing. They are equally as charming as her fiction!

    Liked by 4 people

  15. Hi Dave, how you feel about William Faulkner, is how I feel about Ernest Hemmingway. Some of his books are simply marvelous, like The Old Man and the Sea and A Farewell to Arms, and others I just cannot finish. I am not a thriller fan so I have only read a few books by the authors you have mentioned here.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you, Robbie!

      I share your mixed feelings about Hemingway. I loved “For Whom the Bell Tolls,” liked “The Old Man and the Sea,” and thought “The Sun Also Rises” was very overrated. I guess Hemingway’s personality also colors my view of his work a bit; I’m not a fan of the whole machismo thing.

      Liked by 2 people

        • Hope you like “For Whom the Bell Tolls”! And great observation about books being a product of their eras — and the importance of thinking about that while reading them. Someone like Hemingway might have been a somewhat different writer with somewhat different attitudes if he were born decades later.

          Liked by 2 people

  16. Your and your reader’s list of the this week’s books I havn’t read yet is really full, Dave! I would, however, start with Don Quixote and The Russia House, if I had not ordered I am Pilgrim by Terry Hales, which should also be an unputdownable thriller! People around me continue to make me read “Becoming ” by Michel Obama, which seems to be so optimistic! Well, I hope that I have enough time to read, at least ,some of my “postponements”. I thank you very much for your very appreciated recommendations:)

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thank you, Martina! It IS so difficult to find the time to read even a fraction of what we want to read. In my case, I’ve basically given up on reading nonfiction books (for now, at least) such as “Becoming,” etc., in order to have time to read as many novels as I can.

      Reading “Don Quixote” is an amazing experience.

      Hope you like “I Am Pilgrim”! Sounds like you will!

      Liked by 2 people

      • Thank you very much for your consoltation, Dave! I am really tempted to tackle “Don Quixote” with his so much praised Sancho Panza!
        Well, I suppose, one could go on for quite a while concentrating only on the Obama family!
        I’am Pilgrin is tempting me, because it will take me to America, Saudi Arabia, Syria or the mountains of the Hindu Kush. I will tell you! I also wanted to tell you that “Cat’s Eyes ” is a marvellously cruel story! To people, who may have thought of reading it, I would recommend it! So, many thanks again:)

        Liked by 3 people

  17. Good post!
    In the past 5-6 years I read some Dan Brown (mostly because I watched Da Vinci code movie, and I liked it) – not sure which book I read, but something about conspiracy :))) it was quick read tho, quite entertaining; then Grisham (also because of the movie Time To Kill) – don’t remember the title of the book I read, it was ok, pro written, but again – don’t remember what it was about…
    some S. King – it was a good read, in his style, a bit tooooo long and tooooo detailed, but hard to forget; also, Jane Harper “The Lost Man” because I read her previous book “The Dry” (random pick at airport) and she has an interesting writing style. Often, I remember only the books with an exceptional writing style, or at least it should be different some way. I also read other famous modern authors, but I don’t remember their books… waste of time? Hm, maybe. I see them often on the shelves in the bookshop, but I avoid them. I never read Moriarty (because I feel it is too romantic for me), I never read Carre (because I don’t read often about spies or politics).
    If I don’t like the book at all – I stop after 30/50 pages and trying to resell (as secondhand book).

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thank you, Victoria Ray NB!

      Nice variety of contemporary authors you mentioned!

      My experience reading Liane Moriarty is that she can often be quite clear-eyed and cynical about romantic matters.

      I’m also someone who doesn’t read a lot in the spy genre; just once in a great while. Meaning, as much as I’m liking “The Russian House,” I’m not sure I’ll read le Carré again.

      I used to try to read almost every novel all the way through, even if I wasn’t liking the book, but now, like you, I stop after a few dozen pages when things aren’t compelling. Too many other novels to read. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  18. A wonderful post Dave. my Mr is a big fan of Le Carre. Thinks he is a wonderful writer. and well worth reading. Wharton for me was also a surprising read int that I thought it would be all snooty! And she was so sharp in her people observations. A recent big disappointment for me has been Scotland’s own Val McDermid. iI am sure she writes much better than the book i am presently reading of hers but as things stand I am thinking, ‘Seriously?’

    Liked by 3 people

  19. No risk of getting bored and that’s for sure with John Le Carré, 1931 to 2020, born David John Moore Cornwell. The Spy Who Came In from the Cold (1963), became an international best-seller and remains one of his best-known works. Also a great movie with Richard Burton, Claire Bloom, and Oskar Werner.
    Back when and before John Le Carré, the best author to read for this genre of literature was known Graham Greene, 1904 to 199i, born Henry Graham Greene, OM CH, an English writer and journalist regarded by many as one of the leading English novelists of the 20th century. The Man Within, and The Power and the Glory, the later considered to be his masterpiece.
    I must admit, I’m somewhat bias and influenced by having read most if not all of the Le Carré books, and Green’s of the like genre.
    I continue to find them the best reads when one wants to loose oneself to another time and away from what becomes a tiring sameness of this world in chaos. A world now running ever constantly far too fast and beyond a livable speed for anyone wanting to remain sane, if to be witness to the life one is living. That, come hell or high water, is what I will not fail to do. Thus so with the help of my poetry scribbling addiction, as well as the good reads, of the likes of these two masters, and the many others.

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  20. I’m not sure where you are based (I’m guessing the US) … but Eleanor Wachtel (from the CBC) has conducted some really great interviews with John Le Carre in her program “Writers and Company.” He was an extremely interesting interviewee … not just as you learn a bit about his life as a spy, but you can see how his early years shaped the person and writer he became.

    Liked by 3 people

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