There are a handful of authors who I just read.  If I see that they have a new book out, I put it on my TBR. I have read the majority of the work that these authors have produced. If I discovered them after they had written some stuff, I immediately go to their archives. These are my go to authors:

  1. Jane Green
  2. Jennifer Weiner
  3. Jane Austen (eagerly awaiting her next book- hopefully a sequel…)
  4. Susan Isaacs
  5. Liane Moriarty
  6. The Bronte Sisters
  7. Agatha Christie (Sophie Hannah has taken to writing Poirot novels)
  8. Mary Kay Andrews
  9. Dan Brown
  10. Claire Cook
  11. Emily Griffin
  12. Elly Griffiths (Ruth Galloway)
  13. Allison Pearson
  14. Graeme Simsion

So happily ever after, right?

Well- not so much. Because all is not exactly as it seems.

Take Emily Griffin. I have loved her books for years. I would see an author alert and I would immediately get excited about reading her next. Until this year.  This year I read the blurb about her new book and I just couldn’t bring myself to read it. The subject matter was about a high school girl who sends compromising photos of herself and it becomes a scandal.  As the parent of a teenage girl this is my worst nightmare. I spend every day hoping that my daughter is strong enough to not engage in this activity. The problem I’m seeing is that there are a lot of parents who think that nudish selfies are just something to be expected- that it’s no big deal.  Yeah- I think you know what my thoughts are on that… So I chose not to read this book, because I would rather spend my time talking to my daughter about the pitfalls of this situation rather than reading about it.

Jane Green. I have been reading her for years. Faithfully, often getting her new books on release date. But her past few novels…. She used to be funny and wise and real. Now I feel like she’s throwing a dart board at an issue and then writing a book around it. Her plots have become convoluted. I have always loved her characters because they are real, but the last few books have doted excessively on clothing. There was one book that painfully described every outfit the character wore…and every character in every book seems to have the same style.  If you are going to talk about clothes- change it up. Not every heroine wears skirts and silk blouses.

Jennifer Weiner. Same basic issues. I fell in love with her early characters. They were quirky and charming. Now, they’re becoming caricatures. It’s like she reads a headline and says “There’s the next heroine of my books”.

And now I’m seeing it with Liane Moriarty. Say it isn’t so Liane. Write like you first wrote.

I think part of the problem is the stigma of “Chick Lit”. Now personally, and unapologetically, I love chick lit. Half of my reading is made up of chick lit. I like it because the characters are real and funny and charming and quirky. The situations they get into might be unbelievable, but I’m ok with the ride. I know exactly what I’m getting in chick lit and I’m more than OK with that.

But…

I think every author wants to shed the banner of chick lit. I think they want to be thought of as serious- so they begin writing about more weighty topics. I get this- I really do. Chick lit has a bad banner over it- people think of it as trite. But, well done chick lit is perfection. Telling the story of a woman who isn’t sure how to get what she wants, and them watching her figure it out is wonderful. The dialogue in chick lit is great because it’s how actual people talk. There are people who think writing how people actually talk is easy: for those who say that, try it. Write a conversation using dialogue and nothing else and see how easy it is to make it sound read and alive. And then say I’m sorry to all the authors that you have dismissed.

Here’s my thoughts: right the best book that you can. Write the book that’s inside you. Don’t worry about critics. Don’t worry that you should be writing “stronger”. Just write your book.

So….

Which authors do you love, and have you been disappointed in them as years have gone by?

55 thoughts on “The Go to’s

  1. I do not understand the animosity towards chick-lit. Not every book has to be a scathing commentary of life… that’s what we have newspapers for!
    I too am an unapologetic chick-lit fan and for many of the reasons you cited above. I enjoy the quirkiness, craziness and the dialogue. Not all of it is well-done but when it is, it’s great.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Exactly! Well done chick lit is way better than mediocre “deep” lit, which is often just ridiculous. Why is literature that is for a specific female audience less worthy than other genres?

      Liked by 1 person

  2. When Robert B. Parker died, a couple of authors continued his Spenser series (mystery, crime). It’s not the same. The depth of the conversation is lost somewhere, and the relationship with Spenser’s love is no longer the same. His essence has gone. I miss his books so much (he also wrote Jesse Stone and Sunny Randall series…)

    Haven’t read a lot of chick lit but a few stories pop into my head… can’t recall the authors now. I picked up books like that at the library without much thought about them…

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  3. Not Liane!!! Say it ain’t so!!! I love her work. She makes me laugh. I feel like I am reading something regarding a very light topic. When I get to the end I find Liane has fooled me and she made a very important and deep point in her novel.

    To me chick lit has always meant romance novels. Like the Harlequin Romance Novels which are all actually the same story. That is Chick Lit.

    Because a topic of literature may appeal to the more sophisticated woman does not make it chick lit. We as women should not be made to feel embarrassed about what interests us to the point that our favorite authors feel they must change their writing style and genre. Just because it is a women’s interest topic does not make it something to be embarrassed about. Or how about let’s not assume that everyone woman is so obsessed with clothes that that is all we want to read about (this is the same with the shallow romance novels).

    I have never agreed with the critics on novels, movies, art, theatre, etc. They are pompous asses who are trying make themselves appear more knowledgeable and above everyone else by making us question our tastes. They are idiots and we should enjoy what we want to enjoy just as writers should write what they enjoy writing about.

    I, also, have been waiting in vain for decades for Jane Austen to come out with something new….sigh. Oh, have you found anything knew from the Bronte sisters?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Alas, no new bronte either!! I hate when anyone trashes any specific genre of literature. People are allowed to enjoy whatever they want without being made to feel bad about it. I like highbrow things, but I also like low brow. And liane….her last two novels left me wondering. They missed some of the cleverness of the older work

      Liked by 1 person

      1. True. We should be permitted our own unique preferences. My tastes are very eclectic because I am easily bored but I feel an author is an artist and every artist should remain true to themselves. Sad that they are being made to feel they cannot do this. When looking for something to read I have always relied on the authors’ individual styles of writing and genres when making my next reading choice. I guess I can no longer do that.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. That’s so true. I like an authors style and the subject matter they normally use, but then they get pressured to be more topical and then they lose their particular style.

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  4. I think the main problem is that publishers don’t give writers the freedom to veer off in different directions. They are too concerned with making money. I can’t even think about too many authors I stay attached to these days. In the past, authors could switch from romance to mystery or go into historical fiction and their publishers would back them. They don’t take chances any more.
    I like Kate Morton and usually check out her new novels.
    When it comes to new creations of deceased authors I will read them now and then, but it is, in a sense, only partly enjoyable. (Rather like romance without ever reaching the physical height of intimacy). You hit that plateau and stay there, barely satisfied.
    I love Sherlock Holmes and will enjoy a new author’s attempt at recreating Conan Doyle, but usually it does’t hit the mark. Same with Austen wanna be’s. And yes, I admit it, I did read Pride and Prejudice and Zombies – which was cleverly done, BUT, I don’t want to turn every classic novel into the horror genre. (BTW, the film version of P&P and Zombies) was actually quite good. I wrote a blog about it a few years ago. They kept close enough to the main characters that it worked.)

    It’s frustrating these days, I loved Diana Gabaldon but felt she never really captured me after her first few sequels with Jamie and Claire. (Outlander) And I read those in the 1990’s. Same with JK Rowling. I loved her Harry Potter novels and enjoyed reading and discussing them with my youngest son. I tried reading her science fiction novel and it was just okay.
    I think most publishers want trilogies these days and so authors get boring. Readers like variety. I tend to flutter between genres. I mostly read books with female protagonists because they interest me more. Just like I watch movies and prefer women heroines. I want to identify with the main characters. We Women demand more these days!
    That’s why I think it is helpful to share authors we enjoy. That will keep us finding new writers.

    My local library is now getting authors (mostly women) who were very popular a few years back and they are giving lectures. It is interesting to listen to them and how they have switched their writing style over the years. It is pretty much based on publishers and what the market needs and wants. Once they develop a name they can write whatever they want. But the public does dictate popularity. So popular authors of the 90’s seem to be traveling around the country these days to promote themselves. Check with your local libraries and see if you have that in your area.
    If you are Stephen King you can write whatever you want. But not everyone gets to do that.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I was talking to another blogger the other day about the whole genre thing…how now everyone wants psychological thrillers. One book is a hot, and then they want imitations. No creativity in certain respects. And no chances on anything either

      Liked by 1 person

  5. LOVE Chick lit! Double YAAAY to chick lit/travel memoirs/tales.

    I started reading Patricia Cornwell ages ago when her books were a couple hundred pages at the most (The Body Farm, Postmortem …) —- now they are behemoths that ramble incessantly until the last 50 pages then boomady-boomady-bang all tied up/solved. Really???

    I also started reading Kathy Reichs from the beginning (Deja Dead) — then they made that tv show Bones which has nothing whatsoever to do with the actual books. I really haven’t read much of hers since the Tempe Brennan book # 11, although to tell you the truth, I don’t remember the plots etc. of the later books.

    I totally love Mary Kay Andrews, but have been a bit underwhelmed with a few of the more recent books – Beachtown was NOT her best.

    I know there’s more, but I can’t remember every author!

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      1. If you get a chance please read his book called 11/22/63. It’s a departure from his spooky stuff. I too stopped reading him because he was way too scary for me. But that is a brilliant book. It’s a time travel book and takes you back to right before JFK was shot. He captured everything to the T. I know because I was in middle school in 1963 and remember. I was memorized and read it in less than 48 hours. No ghosts or crazy dogs. It is science fiction because of going back in time, but it reads more like historical fiction.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Neil Gaiman and Will Thomas are my only two auto-buy authors, and they haven’t disappointed me yet. The only series that got worse over time was the Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan (big, epic fantasy). I’m going to give it another try for the first time in years, so we’ll see if my opinion changes.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Agatha is my all time fave. I also love Sherlock. I got an advanced copy of Emily Griffin’s First Came Love from a bookstore in Oregon. It was wrapped in brown paper and there was just a sentence describing that the story was about sisters. My husband brought it home for me because I have sisters so he thought I might like it. I did. Your posts this week are reminding me that I still have a lot of reading/re-reading to do!

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Timesless if you remove the socially acceptable rascism in their original format. I love Agatha and Doyle. My favorite mystery writers. But early copies of both their stories contain rascism and anti Semitism. New versions remove those sections.

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  8. I also love the writing of Elly Griffiths and her Ruth Galloway series! Strong female characters with real, human needs. Her recent standalone, “Stranger Diaries,” is also great, and I did NOT find myself “looking for Ruth,” but enjoyed it as a separate entity. Other authors and their books that I never miss are Louise Penny (Three Pines Mysteries) and Marcia Muller (Sharon McCone mysteries). In all of these books, the mystery is like a side note, for me, and it’s the stories of the relationships that I most enjoy.

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    1. The relationship is the best thing about Elly Griffiths! These characters are so real and alive and flawed and tragic, but have amazing depth to them. Brilliant character development!

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  9. ” Telling the story of a woman who isn’t sure how to get what she wants, and them watching her figure it out is wonderful. ” Story of my life LOL. I love the list and the cheeky references to my favorite deceased authors. I don’t read as much as you do clearly. I do about a book a month. I did read a few of Jennifer Weiner earlier novels and loved them. Not surprised they changed with fame, movies, keeping up with the “brand” so to speak. It’s easy to become disingenuous. I have many many times fallen into “how can I make a quick buck” by attempting to incorporate “tic tutorials” when I wrote about Tourettes or “Oil links” when I was into Young Living. Yeah, it works with my “brand” but mostly it was done out of fear and wanting to make more money. It never works. I am best as a writer when I stick to my heart and write with my own voice. A goal, yes. Another book in the future? Yes. But mostly, I write because I want to connect with others and read for the same reason. (My favorite chick lit author, btw: Janet Evanovich. She’s really funny. Haven’t read all of them to know if she’s changed though. I also love John Green – more YA but great.)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I like janet evanovich in the beginning, but then I started to not enjoy them. But I feel that about a lot of mystery fiction authors….they find a formula and stick with it, and then I get bored

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  10. I find that many series get old after awhile, the characters don’t change and it gets boring. I do like Louise Penny’s Inspector Gamache series, great settings, a new mystery usually sparked by a real event and I love the characters. I am not caught up to the current book yet and just finished “The Nature of the Beast” (2015) and hated it! I am hoping it is just an aberration. I can’t imagine not finding out what happens next in the characters lives.
    I own the entire Agatha Christie collection and love being able to snag one whenever I want/need. (Let’s face it sometimes books are a need!) Surprisingly I love her non-mystery books so much! Read “Absent in the Spring”. She wrote it under a pen name, Mary Westmacott.
    I could talk books forever. I will pass on one great idea for those old school types like me, to track reading…I bought one of those 5 year diaries and in it I keep track of my reading. I write the name of the book and the author and if I liked it or a favorite line or whatever, just something short, on the day I started the book. If I didn’t finish I give it a DNF and why. It will last a long time and it is easy to flip through and find an author’s name or whatever. Works great for me. I just can’t get into Good Reads. I get tired of being on the computer!

    Thanks for sharing all these great books.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks for great comments! I could talk books forever too! Obviously! And why I belong to two book clubs! I like goodreads for keeping track of what I’ve read, and the reading challenge keeps me centered. I also like seeing what my friends are reading so I can discuss with them. But yeah…I get the whole too much computer thing!

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  11. I wouldn’t really describe the books you mention as chick-lit. If you must, then perhaps hen-lit is more appropriate. But in fact I think they’re classified as women’s fiction, being largely based on relationships. I, too though, have noticed that once an author becomes super successful, their writing isn’t always as good. My theory is that they are contracted to write a book a year (or whatever) and that there may not be time for the books to be edited, which would take care of at least some of the problems you mention

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The problem is perception. I think people see some of the work as trite, and then it gets a bad wrap. The thing is, none of the subject matter is trite, because different things affect people differently. I sometimes think people just want to say “you think that’s a tragedy? No, let me tell you mine” in a sort of literary one upsmanship. That’s what I hate about memoirs like “glass Castle”….

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  12. My must-reads of current authors are Elinor Lipman, Ann Patchett, Michael Connelly, Sue Grafton (sadly, there will be no more Graftons). So far, they haven’t let me down. Probably others, but those come to mind immediately.

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  13. My only “read everything she ever wrote” author is Barbara Kingsolver. I’ve read a lot of Diana Gabaldon and Sue Grafton, as well as all the Harry Potter books, but series do wear me out. I’m looking for something new each time I crack the cover open.

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  14. I agree. Hopefully the changes are publisher-driven and the authors will change based on loss in sales…

    I remember picture books by Don and Audrey Wood. The art is amazing! I saw a book they did recently. It has computer-generated images of basic shapes. :/

    Liked by 1 person

  15. I used to love Joanna Trollope (British author) and then her books got so bad I stopped reading them….it was like she was trying to write about a “current” topic she knew nothing about. I remember one about being a soldier’s wife which was particularly bad. But I loved her last book, An Unsuitable Match, about a late in life engagement/marriage, maybe she was writing from experience again? I feel the same way about Elin Hilderbrand, she churns then out every year, some I can’t stand, but last summer’s The Perfect Couple was a winner. Jodi Picoult is a writer who hits a home run with every book – I read her latest A Spark of Light, about the abortion clinic even though it was not a topic that interested me. Same with Kate Morton, loved all her books, but The Distant Hours was so painful I abandoned it halfway through. It must be frustrating for an author like that to have a dud when they are used to having winners – it’s a lot of time and effort put into a book which for whatever reason sometimes just doesn’t work.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Elin H is very uneven. I’ve enjoyed some of he4 novels, and hated others. I think i did read a Trollope years ago, and thought she was fine, but I had to overwhelming desire to read more

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