Author Adoration

I'm about halfway through Sarah Vowell's Unfamiliar Fishes, which according to the back cover is "an examination of Hawaii, the place where Manifest Destiny got a sunburn." I love history, but in the grand scheme of historic subjects, the history of American imperialism in Hawaii does not strike my fancy. Sarah Vowell, however, does.

I devoured The Partly Cloudy Patriot, her account of her on-again, off-again love affair with American patriotism, and absolutely loved Assassination Vacation, in which she documents her travels to various places related to presidential assassinations. Vowell is witty, humorous, nerdy, educated, and obsessed with the trivial details we are generally all too willing to overlook. I don't need humor to find a history book interesting, but man, do I appreciate it.

So when I was offered a review copy of Unfamiliar Fishes, I did not hesitate in accepting, even though a part of my brain was saying, "Hawaii? Ugh. American imperialism is so overrated."

I accepted the book not as a standalone object that I thought I might enjoy, but as part of an author's repertoire that I know I have enjoyed. In short, I'd read anything Sarah Vowell decided to write.

All bookworms have favorite authors, of course. But do you have an author whose next book you will read, regardless of subject? In addition to Sarah Vowell, I have a few others: Mary Roach (whether she's righting about cadavers or sex or outer space, I'm interested), Mark Helprin, and Gabriel Garcia Marquez. To me, these are authors whose writing is so accomplished that they can take any subject, any story, and turn it into something I want to read. Something I want to own, so I can read and re-read. They are vastly different, each of them, but they can be assured of at least one purchase of each of their next books by yours truly.

What about you? Do you pick books as standalone objects, or as part of an author's repertoire? Do you have authors whose books you will read, regardless of subject, or are you more focused on the subject matter?


  1. There are authors i'll read regardless of subject.the ones that spring to mind are Jodi Picoult, Scarlett Thomas, and Terry Pratchett. But i'm also the kind of reader that if I read one book I love by an author, i'll go out and get hold of the rest of their books too. Can't have too much of a good thing!

  2. Stephen King and Neil Gaiman. Blog posts, short stories, introductions - if their names are on it I'm reading it.

  3. Bex - Of your three, I've only read one Terry Pratchett, and that was a long time ago. Though I do sometimes do the same thing with an author I discover, and read their whole backlist.

    Jurgen - Ah! Two authors you've been trying to lend to me and I have yet to read. But both are on my life list. Someday. In all that spare time I have these days :-)


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