Friday, May 09, 2008

In Author We Trust

So yesterday I was catching up on my emails from adbooks and Child_Lit, two listservs that collectively generate about 2,568,034 emails per day. Some people were chatting about the books they're looking forward to, and I broke out my Blue Journal of Stuff I Gotta Read Before I Die and started copying down names.

I paused and thought, Why am I putting these titles down? In some cases, it was just a list of titles--no synopses, nothing. I don't know anything about their subject, their tone, or even their age level. But some author names I saw and went, "Oo, okay!"

I realized that I just trust the author that much. No matter what they've written (and sometimes the style and content vary wildly), it's well-done and absorbing. That's quite a thing, to gain the trust of your reader in that fashion.

Author trust is different than following a series. I'll request the latest Enola Holmes or the next Cronus Chronicles because I want to find out what happens next, but I'll have to hear a little bit about any title the author writes outside of that series before it does down in my Blue Journal.

The deepest author trust is when you hear the synopsis and go, ". . . Huh. I dunno about that one. If another author were writing it, I'd pass it over, but it's X. So I'll give it a whirl."

Sometimes it's style-related. I know what I'm getting from Meg Cabot, for instance--a fun, funny girl-centric story. There've been disappointments, sure, but not enough to destroy my trust. Sometimes it's just the characters. Catherine Gilbert Murdock, for instance, can be counted on for kick-ass girls, no matter if they play football or wear crowns.

But sometimes author trust is just there because the quality has been consistent on practically every page.

Here's a few more of my most trusted authors:
Lisa Yee
Diane Wynne-Jones
Meg Cabot
Eva Ibbotson
John Green
Mo Willems
Maureen Johnson
Emily Gravett

I'm sure there's more, but from flipping through my Blue Journal and noting the titles I wrote down without any need to hear a synopsis, that's my preliminary list.

Who are the authors you most trust?


Anonymous said...

Ooh, great question. I'd second John Green and Diana Wynne Jones, though with the latter I'd specify that I'm guaranteed only to read any new Chrestomanci book! And I'll read just about anything new by Ellen Wittingler, Julie Anne Peters, Robin McKinley, or Lois Lowry.

I've been thinking lately about authors you *used* to trust but have fallen out of your favor. I realize authors develop, change styles, etc., but what if you don't like the direction they've gone? I used to love Lois Lowry's realistic fiction, but after The Giver she started to lose me. (I loved The Giver, but it was a turning point.) I still read her new ones, but haven't really gotten into them. Ditto for Patricia Reilly Giff, when she started writing "serious" books like Lily's Crossing and Pictures of Hollis Woods; I miss the fun of Casey Valentine and her friends. It's not fair to say to these authors, "Don't ever change!" But that's how I feel sometimes.

Anonymous said...

Hmmm... there are a bunch of authors I would follow no matter where they led me content-wise.

My quick list:
Judy Blume
Jerry Spinelli
Sharon Creech
Lois Lowry
JK Rowling (even though we only know Harry Potter, I would be willing to give anything she wrote a chance!)
Kevin Henkes
Patricia Polacco
Kate DiCamillo

As for authors of adult books, my all time favorite is Jodi Picoult. I have read all of her books and loved each one, no matter what the subject...

Bibliovore said...

Lisa: Ack! I forgot the immortal Robin McKinley! She's one of the first authors I trusted, way back when I was a teenager. I remember reading The Blue Sword the first time. It was like walking into a time machine and being taken away into an unexpectedly familiar land.

Nice point about the authors you used to trust. I just read a Patricia Reilly Giff today and while it was . . . good, I guess . . . it wasn't fabbity-fab.

Bibliovore said...

Jenny: Agreement on Sharon Creech! In this job (blogger or librarian, take your pick), I hear of so many good authors and books that my Blue Journal runs to multiple volumes. One day I will have a bookshelf full of books containing lists of books I need to read. How meta.