How did you discover your now-favorite author? By recommendation, or by seaching the shelves?
2001, age 12: I was in Jerusalem for a rally. I quickly ran out of books, and wandered down to the local Steimetzky’s (Israeli equivalent of B&N, as far as I can tell). As usually, the fantasy section was quite small.
I browsed through the shelves, looking for just the right book, worrying that the adult books would be too hard for me. I finally picked out The Fifth Elephant, because the title was so goofy. I looked at the back cover, which mentioned “the usual cast of trolls, drawves, vampires, and werwolves”, and nearly put it down again. It sounded too cliche for me. But then again, the pickings were slim. I picked up my first Terry Pratchett book, and went back to the hotel.
To my astonishment, it turned out to be really good. Not only that, it was funny. I went back the next day for Eric, and today I have almost all of his books, well-worn throught constant reading.
I’m like a magpie, and a book with a holographic cover will instantly catch my attention when I’m browsing. That’s how I found Altered Carbon (Richard Morgan) and Chasm City (Alastair Reynolds). I was hooked by both of them instantly. I love their work and will buy anything they write as soon as it lands on the shelves, even if it’s in $40 trade paperback form.
When I was younger and couldn’t get to the library often (since I wasn’t old enough to drive), I would buy massive amounts of cheap ($0.10) books whenever I was in a used bookstore or a Goodwill, so that I always had something unread on my shelves. One of these books was The World According to Garp. I thought it was quirky and I loved the way it encompassed such an incredible timespan. Years later, one of my favorite uncles gave me A Prayer for Owen Meany. His recommendation, as his always are, was spot-on, and I found the book tragic and perfect and incredible - and the sense of getting everything about a character’s life seemed so familiar. I went through my shelves and found Garp, and now I own nearly everything John Irving has ever written.
I did something similar with Pratchett - I owned Jingo through some quirk of random buying, and then I actually found *The Adventures of Cohen the Barbarian *at the library; since it was large and (at the time) new, it was out on display, and something about it called to me, like a lover’s eyes reaching out across a crowded room.
Different ways for different authors. James Morrow sent me a free book. Thomas Pynchon and Flannery O’Connor, I discovered in an English class. John Barth, probably due to word of mouth and the fact that the blurbs for The Sot-Weed Factor made it sound interesting. ** Terry Pratchett** similarly – someone mentioned that The Color of Magic was a pretty funny read (at the time, he only had that and its sequel out). James Tiptree, Jr., by reading some of her stories in magazines and getting a recommendation from a friend. Neil Gaimen through Good Omens, which I read because I was a fan of Pratchett.
I read a review of Philip Roth’s American Pastoral in Newsweek (I think) and it persuaded me to order the book, which I did. I absolutely loved it and ordered more of his books. I’ve found a few of his secondhand and when the new ones have come out I’ve ordered them. I’ve got all of his from the last decade or more except Exit Ghost which was badly reviewed. I’ll likely pick it up at some stage.
My aunt was a librarian and put many fine books into my eager hands over the years! Ed McBain, Ruth Rendell, Winston Graham, Robert Crais, Elizabeth George, Ray Bradbury…the internet has been a godsend to those of us whose nose has always been stuck in a book.
My mother was a librarian. I owe it all to her. She was the first person to tell me about those books with the atom on the spine. Thus started a life-long affair with Isaac, Robert, Arthur, Pohl and all the rest.
Boris Starling- I was walking in a bookstore in Wisconsin trying to find something to read for the 5 hour drive it is back to Ft. Wayne. Looked at a book called Messiah started it, couldn’t put it down the entire drive and even continued it at my home; I’ve owned every book if his since
Thomas Hardy- I chose to read Tess of the D’urbervilles for a book in an english class in high school. While reading it I thought to myself “This is the hardest book I have ever read (mostly cuz of vocabulary)” but I loved every minute of it.
Steve Alten- My brother bought his first book Meg a couple years ago and I just recently (as in December) started reading him and I loved his books. I am in the process of buying more of them
Some of A, some of B. I’ve discovered many authors by selecting books from the library almost at random, including James Stoddard, Neal Barrett Jr., Philip Reeve, Robin Hobb, and Jan Siegel. Others I checked out due to overwhelming popularity, most notably Terry Pratchett, Chia Mieville and Gene Wolfe. And I discovered an impressive number of great authors from this website, including G. G. Chesterton, E. R. Eddison, Charles Finney, and R. A. Lafferty.
My starting point was also the ERB novels. When I had read all of them I could get my hands on, I noticed a book on a display rack at the library with a title that caught my eye. It was Time for the Stars By Robert A Heinlein. From there, I just haunted the Sci Fi section of the library. This taught me to read the dust jackets, and it just progressed from there
A lot of my early ones came from my parents. When I was about 9, the San Diego Library decided to unload a metric buttload of books, literally setting them out in cardboard boxes for people to take. Dad came home with a station wagon full of books, some of which turned out to be quite valuable. I had stacks of Victorian books to play with, so that is how I discovered Jules Verne, H.G. Wells and a slew of others.
Dad also gave me a copy of The Hobbit when I was ten.
Most others I found by accident - Barbara Peters at a thrift store when I picked up Curse of the Pharoahs, Charlotte McLeod at the library with Something in the Water, Terry Pratchett by randomly picking up The Light Fantastic with a Walden’s gift certificate.