In any given year I manage to read about 25 novels. In past years nearly all of them have been written by recognized, established authors. This year that has changed. That has been the result of a small challenge I set myself―not to exclusively read novels by renowned authors whose work I’m already familiar with and in some cases love. The things I have discovered during this year of more selective reading has made me pretty happy with my decision.
Rather than restricting myself to reading only novels written by my favorite contemporary and classic authors I have actively searched for, purchased, and read novels written by authors I’ve never heard of, the majority of them new, self-published authors. As a result I’ve read and enjoyed a number of books in my preferred genres I ordinarily would not have bothered with in the past assuming I would have even heard of these novels had I not deliberately sought them out.
I have discovered there is a practical problem that must be overcome when it comes to finding novels by new authors to read. For the most part, all the high-profile venues that exist to alert readers to new books and their worthiness are skewed heavily toward the popular writers.
Publications like the New York Times for example review far more books by established, traditionally-published authors than those written by Indie authors. Certainly the problem is not limited to the New York Times. If the majority of books being held out and endorsed as good and worthy reads are by prominent authors it’s easy for readers to slip into thinking that the only books worth reading are those by authors who fit that description.
Finding novels by new authors worth reading is not however an insurmountable obstacle. Beyond perusing books summaries by genre on Amazon I’ve also found some good reads through my Twitter feed.
I am so glad I made the decision to expand my reading list this year by choosing to read new authors. In part, my decision was motivated by the fact that I had already read everything that my favorite contemporary authors had written and was in the position of impatiently waiting a year after finishing their last novel until they published the next one. Those of you willing to make a similar effort to expand your literary horizons might be as pleasantly surprised by what you find as I’ve been. But allow me to add a small caveat.
While the addition of Indie authors to my reading list has significantly improved my enjoyment of reading, that’s not to say I haven’t come across bad books or novels that actually felt painful to read. I have. But I came across books like that far more infrequently than I actually expected when I decided to take on the challenge of finding new authors to read.
Think about your own favorite author. Regardless of how famous and widely read he or she may be today, they were once an obscure, unknown, new author publishing a first novel. No matter how compelling the characters they create or how gripping and entertaining the stories they tell, he or she would not be a renowned and perhaps best-selling author today had someone not taken a chance and read a novel by a new author. Those first readers were impressed sufficiently to recommend the book to others who also found the novel a good read and as the say, the rest is history.
At least from an economic perspective, it isn’t really that much of a risk to buy and read a novel from a new, unknown author. In comparison to the novels by known authors which typically command cover prices of close to $30 for hardback editions and $10 or more for electronic versions, eBooks by new, Indie authors are widely available for $1.99 and less. That is less than I spend for the cup of Starbucks coffee I have at least once each day.
Even if on occasion you end up feeling that even such a paltry sum has been wasted because you purchased a book you really found awful and perhaps couldn’t even make yourself finish, what have you really lost? And on those occasions when you come across a real gem of a novel that provided you hours of reading pleasure, getting the book for such a pittance and discovering a new author you like in the bargain simply adds another layer to an already positive experience.
I’ll wait just as impatiently for the next novels from my favorite present-day authors and I’ll fill the unavoidable 12-month voids by reading some of the classic novels I’ve not gotten to, but I also intend to persevere with my challenge to expand my reading list with a generous helping of novels by new authors.
Are you up for a similar challenge? Why not expand your own reading list to include novels by new authors and see what you discover? You might be glad you did. I know I am.