All of us have endless reading to do on a daily basis. We read newspapers, magazines, contracts product specifications, websites etc. The list goes on and on. All this is reading for work, or reading for news, or reading because we have to. Then…there’s reading for pleasure. Reading for pleasure is something I take very seriously.
Both my parents actively encouraged reading for us kids. I was in a book club by the time I was seven and reading novels when my peers were reading comic books. Through high school and college I learned to identify with, and appreciate various authors styles. Back in those days there were prolific authors who wrote every word themselves, toiling away to make each new book as exciting and fresh as the last.
Today, I’m saddened to say that writing appears to have become more of a business than a passion. Nothing demonstrates this better than the dozens of popular fiction authors who pump out books with exacting consistency. At some point, many of my go-to authors have stumbled across some invisible formula and cling to it with desperate regularity. They effortlessly and robotically slide in new antagonists, new secret shadow government agencies, and new precisely broken and engineered main characters. Each new book has the potential nervous excitement and promise of a first date, yet many turn out to have a dull lifeless feeling. Like watching a rerun in the summer when you know you should be doing something more productive. Lots of these books end up on the bestseller lists for no other reason than the name of the author on the cover.
I’m here to say that the emperor has no clothes. I’m here to say that many of the bestselling authors of yesteryear are pumping out embarrassing works that do not live up to their reputation. I’m here to say that the publishing industry, like many others, has taken the easy way out. They have failed to do the hard work of weeding out marginal pieces, and delivering to us fresh new voices. Instead they find a handful of strong horses, and whip them till they’re spent and empty.
There is however a glimmer of hope. The inevitable combination of computers, the internet, powerful word processing software and print-on-demand services is sowing the seeds of the future of publishing. Small passionate publishing houses and even self-published authors have more access to the mainstream market today than ever before. New, determined writers who believe in their works and are willing to put up their time and money are the new voice.
This isn’t to say that all small books and self published pieces are good. In fact, many of them aren’t worth the paper they’re printed on. Ahhh, but there’s the rub isn’t it? To find that needle in the Haystack. Discover the author who writes just like your favorites used to.
It happens. I’ve found several in the last month or so. First time authors who weave an enticing, fresh story together with crisp dialog and a page turning plot. Forget the bestseller lists and give some of these new voices a chance. Here’s a couple to start with:
“Knife Music” by David Carnoy. It’s an original format with flashbacks and flashforwards that manage to keep the reader fully engaged. Once you get the hang of Carnoy’s style, it’s very gripping. Reading this book is like reading a good book and working a satisfying puzzle at the same time.
“End of Grace” by K. Thomas Murphy. This book smacked of the best work from some of my favorite authors. If you liked the plot driven early works of Grisham, Sanford, Childs and Deaver, add Murphy to your list. If you wanted more from the Da Vinci Code, give this book a shot. I checked the author’s website, and he has more in the works.
This summer, when you’re looking for something fresh and different, take a chance. Try to discover a new favorite author.