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a blank slate

Top Ten Authors in My Reading Journey

Top Ten Authors in My Reading Journey
All of us readers have those books that really started us on our way to becoming book lovers. It could be something we read as young children, or it could be a book we picked up in adulthood after years of a reading drought. Or, it could be an author or book that introduced us to a new favorite genre. This week’s Top Ten Tuesday puts a spotlight on those books and authors that we credit with our bookishness.

I’ll start from the beginning. These are the authors who influenced my reading, who brought me new genres or played a part in making me so thoroughly bookish. I don’t claim to still like each of them, but let’s suppose this is a thanks. There are other writers I love and have obsessed over, but these are the ones who introduced me to new books, reading styles and ideas. Clicking on the author names will take you to their Goodreads pages.

1. ENID BLYTON – She was the first author I fan-girled over. Her little fairy stories and pixie adventures were not only my introduction to fantasy but also the first books that I read once I grew too old for illustrated stories, “picture books.” From there I gradually moved on to her mysteries, the Famous Five series, the Five Find-Outers, the Adventure series and although I was never a big fan of these, the Secret Seven. Anyone who has grown up here remembers the big thing that Enid Blyton was. I’m not sure what kids these days read, but she definitely paved the way for me turning into this book nerd.

2. CAROLYN KEENE – Ah, the Nancy Drew mysteries. It sounds ridiculous now how big a fan I was of these once, considering I don’t love mysteries all that much anymore. The plots were almost always rehashed, the Nancy-Bess-George trio was cheesy and stereotyped to the point of being funny, and George was, if you think about it, the exact same boyish girl from Famous Five now grown up. And yet, for the longest time as a kid, I loved these books. It turns out, Carolyn Keene was a pseudonym of a bunch of hired writers. So much for all the “I-want-to-meet-her-and-get-a-signed-book!”

3. J. K. ROWLING – After years of Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys and the Three Investigators, along came Harry Potter – and my life pretty much changed. J. K. Rowling took my love for reading and fantasy to a whole new level. Every Harry Potter kid (people who grew up with the series) would know what I’m talking about. The effect the books have had on me is practically indescribable. They turned me from a book lover to a book fanatic. And I’ll never stop loving her for that!

4. AYN RAND – I’d just turned thirteen when I read Atlas Shrugged, along with my sister, and fell in love with it. (I know, it wasn’t at the age of ten like Rory, but close enough, don’t you think?) I then went on to read The Fountainhead, Anthem and We the Living, followed by maybe one of the non-fiction ones – was it The Virtue of Selfishness? – honestly, I don’t remember. Somewhere around this time, I also read my all time favourite book – Life of Pi by Yann Martel. I loved all the serious philosophizing that followed with my sister and am still grateful to Ayn Rand for making me bond with her. Oddly, by the time all my friends got around to being die hard fans of The Fountainhead, I was already over that phase.

5. JOHN GRISHAM – The next few years of my life were busy, and Grisham kept my love for reading going strong. The Deathly Hallows came out sometime around that time, and with Harry Potter ending, I was on the look out for something just as addictive. I read a couple of Jeffrey Archer-s, Sidney Sheldon-s, Robin Cook-s, and Robert Ludlum-s but Grisham was the one that stuck. It all started when I saw the Pelican Brief movie on TV one afternoon. I haven’t read any of his books in a while now, but once upon a time, he was my favourite author ever, so he deserves a mention, don’t you think?

6. TERRY PRATCHETT – Let me skip a few years ahead to when I started this blog. Reading Terry Pratchett and the Discworld series was finally like Harry Potter all over again. I still haven’t read the whole series (40 books, are you kidding me?) but that’s what I like about it, anyway. Unlike Rowling’s Wizarding World, I’ll never run out of the magic that is Discworld. I can stretch out my reads over five years, and there’ll always be more books waiting. With Terry Pratchett came the love for Neil Gaiman. But because of Good Omens, I’ll always count them as one gateway author.

7. STEPHEN KING – Reading The Shining was one of the best decisions of my life. Then came Carrie, It, Cujo, Salem’s Lot and a whole load of amazing horror. I’d already dived into a bit of gore with Thomas Harris and King took it to a whole new level. For the following four years, I devoured all books horror, from Shirley Jackson to Peter Straub to William Peter Blatty, till finally last week I decided I’d had enough, at least for the following few years. The Shining remains one of my top favourite reads.

8. A. S. BYATT – Byatt is the only author from these most reading-influencing authors whom I discovered by accident. You know how a book pops out at you at the library and you realize you must read it, though you don’t know why? That’s what happened with her short story collection, Elementals: Stories of Fire and Ice. I adored it so much, I went back to the library the same day, pleaded to be let in for just a couple of seconds (they were about to close) and brought home the enormous The Children’s Book. Byatt is the reason I love mythology, fables and folktales and magic realism.

9. AMITAV GHOSH – Last year, I realized I’d seriously under-read Indian fiction. I was also unfairly critical of it, despite having read literally only three Indian authors. So I picked up a book by Amitav Ghosh, and then another and one more. The Calcutta Chromosome, In An Antique Land, The Sea of Poppies, The Hungry Tide – I loved every book I tried. For the first time, I read Indianness and was delighted at how easy it was to read about something I could visualize than a place never visited that lies across oceans. Sometime last year, I also read Vikram Chandra’s Sacred Games, and experienced the same exciting familiarity. Ghosh is the reason I opened up to this range of Anglo-Indian fiction that is fabulous.

10. STEPHEN BOOTH – Who knew getting books for review could be so utterly rewarding? Thank you, Harper Collins / William Morrow. The Cooper and Fry series are a set of heartwarming thrillers (oxymoron?) with the best characterization I’ve read since Rowling, set in the Northern English countryside. Last October, I read the first mystery, Black Dog, and fell in love with it. I have since bought a couple, delightedly found a few from the series at the library and immersed myself in them. The series has thirteen books (I think?) and the fun is far from over. So there you have the most recent of my author-obsessions.


I would like to specially mention #1 Mark Twain, who led me to scrap the idea that classics are almost always too complicated, over written and boring and #2 Arthur Miller who convinced me I could love reading plays, after all!

Have you read any of these authors? Which authors have been your gateway-authors? Who has most influenced your reads? 
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