Books by your favorite author you're glad you didn't read first

I’m not just talking your least favorite book by your favorite author – I mean a book by them that is so bad, so out of the ordinary for them, that had it been the first book you’d read by them, you likely wouldn’t have picked up another.

This was brought to mind by the release of the film Shutter Island. The author of the book, Dennis Lehane, is one of my favorite writers. I consider him to be among the best of the modern detective authors. And his non-detective novels, Mystic River and The Given Day among them, show a nice range. He really is very good. But Shutter Island, is not good. Not good at all. As I mentioned in one of the threads on the film, I had to restart the novel a few times just to get through it, and when I finally did, I only did because I liked his other stuff so much; not because I was enjoying the read. If that had been the first book I’d read by him, I would have missed out on some truly great books, because there was nothing there that would have made me seek him out again.

Similarly, I recently discovered Carl Hiassen. I’m not sure I’d consider him among my favorite writers like Lehane, but the first several books I read by him, I found immensely fun. Then I picked up Nature Girl. What a steaming pile of crap that was. It was like it was written by a different person. It lacked all the fun, all the humor, all the imagination, all the likable characters of the other books I’d read by him that made them so enjoyable. I couldn’t even finish it; the characters, even the ones I was apparently supposed to like, were just pissing me off too much.

What are yours? Books you’re thankful you didn’t read first, because you certainly wouldn’t have picked up that author again if you had…

I am so smucking glad that Lisey’s Story wasn’t the first book I read by Stephen King (which was The Shining, not a bad one to start with).

Rama II by Arthur C Clarke and whats his name.

Nobody should ever start their reading of Heinlein’s works with Stranger in a Strange Land. I’m not actually saying it’s bad, either: There are many fans who consider it his best work. But on the other hand, there are also many fans (myself included) who couldn’t even finish it, and whether or not you liked Stranger is a very poor predictor of whether you’ll like other Heinlein books.

Stephen King’s Gerald’s Game. It’s the only one that’s not recent that I haven’t re-read. I don’t even dislike a lot of the later, lesser quality stuff anywhere near as much as I hated that one.

As far as Lehane, I did read what I thought was his worst book, Mystic River, first. (I’m probably the only person who dislikes it.) It took a lot of convincing and lots of “No, really, you’ll like his other books,” before I’d try any of them and I like all the others a lot, except for Shutter Island. I don’t dislike it as much as Mystic River, but I didn’t enjoy it.

The same thing happened with Lawrence Block too. I read a novel (can’t remember which one) that was terrible. I ran out of things to read and picked up one of his short story collections and couldn’t believe it was the same writer.

Freddy and Fredericka, by Mark Helprin

Just skip it. Or if you’re a completist, read all his other books first and then skip it. It’s just terrible.

Under the Dome, definitely.

And Mr. X by Peter Straub. (To be fair, I still haven’t managed to finish it.) I’m glad I started with Floating Dragon. Dragon isn’t high art, but it was good enough to get me to try Ghost Story.

I’ve loved everything David L. Martin has written for about the last 20 years, but his recent Facing Rushmore is crap.

‘The Service’ by Paul Quarrington. He got so much better by the time he wrote ‘The Life of Hope’.

The only reason I’d recommend The Service is for some sort of writing course to show how an author’s first work can sometimes provide no indication whatsoever of what the author is really capable of. Even at that, I’d make the class read one of his outstanding books, like ‘Whale Music’ or ‘King Leary’ first.

And this thread cannot be complete without mentioning *Hogg *by Samuel R. Delany.

I’m a huge Georgette Heyer fan, but if I had read her contemporary novel “Helen” first I would never tried her historical novels or crime fiction. Very dull book with very dated & snobbish ideas.

I love this book x 1,000.
Do I have to specify a book, or can I say “a lot of Kurt Vonnegut books”?

Robert Heinlein’s The Number of the Beast
Frederick Forsyth’s The Phantom of Manhattan
Philip K. Dick’s Galactic Pot Healer

Simon Green’s Blue Moon Rising - or at least the specific edition I read. The cover managed to give the impression that it was lighthearted, cheerful humorous fantasy, and it even started out sounding like that. Then it got darker, and bloodier, and grimmer, and I kept waiting for the mood to lighten up…well, it didn’t, to put it mildly. Taken on it’s own level it’s OK I think; it’s just that the cover put me in entirely the wrong frame of mind for that sort of thing, nor was I in the mood at the time. It was like sitting down expecting to watch *Ruthless People *and getting Saw instead.

Moving Pictures by Terry Pratchett. Probably his only dud.

If Tommyknockers had been my first Stephen King novel, it would’ve most likely been my last, too. Sucked.

I’m one of the few that liked that one. For truly bad Heinlein, I offer For Us, the Living.

Spider Robinson seems burned out on the Callahan series, or did in the last one I read, called Callahan’s Con. If that was the first of his I’d read, it would also be the last. It might still be the last.

Tom Clancy and Harry Turtledove have both declined in my opinion. I still enjoy their early works but I don’t bother reading their more recent stuff.

I actually tried to read that one a second time. But, no. It hadn’t gotten any better.

What? *Moving Pictures *is his best ever. But *Strata *and *Dark Side Of The Sun *stink.

Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged- just too darn big. I started with Anthem, skipped We The Living & The Fountainhead (still haven’t read WTL), & then tackled the monster.

C.S. Lewis’s Out of the Silent Planet- I’ve read Perelandra a few times, That Hideous Strength LOTSA times, but still have not been able to finish OOTSP.