Booking Through Thursday: Ground Floor

There’s something wonderful about getting in on the ground floor of an author’s career–about being one of the first people to read and admire them, before they became famous best-sellers.

Which authors have you been lucky enough to discover at the very beginning of their careers?

And, if you’ve never had that chance, which author do you WISH you’d been able to discover at the very beginning?

I feel like I haven’t discovered anyone at the beginning of their career, in that I read their book before it exploded in popularity. Technically, I read and enjoyed Jaclyn Dolamore’s and Kristin Cashore’s first books early in their careers, but they were pretty well-known regardless.

I wish I’d discovered Michael Chabon or Jeffrey Eugenides at the very beginning—they have such a beautiful way with language that I would have enjoyed watching them grow. (Also, I would actually have copies of Eugenides’s short stories. Collect them already!)

But ultimately, it doesn’t matter to me if I discovered an author before they went supernova. I pay a lot more attention to personal recommendations than to best-seller lists. While there are some series I drag my feet about because they’re popular—the Millenium trilogy, anyone?—I think I still read them with the same attitude as I would if I’d stumbled across in a bookshop five years ago. (Only, you know, not, because five years ago, I was fourteen and had barely stopped being annoying.)

7 thoughts on “Booking Through Thursday: Ground Floor

  1. I am sure I have had the smug response “I knew about this before it was big”, because I remember how satisfying that emotion was, but now I can’t remember whom I was feeling it about. :p

    (I do like it when British shows come to America and I already know all about them because I saw the British versions, and then I am all like “Yeah, British Cassie was more adorable than American Katie” and “James McAvoy delivered this line far less creepily”, and I feel smug.)

  2. Brandon Sanderson.

    I’m not saying that because I met the guy at Dragon Con, I’m saying Sanderson because I was looking through the scifi/fantasy section at work and found a copy of Elantris. I looked at the back cover for a minute and thought it sounded interesting, then I read the first page (which is almost its own short story) and knew I had to read the whole book. I bought it on the spot and was quite pleased with it.

    I think he had already been recruited to write the last Wheel of Time books at that point, but none of them had come out. He had released the Mistborn trilogy (or should I say the first Mistborn trilogy?), but they weren’t high on anyone’s reading list at that point. He was still a mystery, known only for his interesting magic system, smooth pacing, and his dedication to writing fantasy instead of using it as an excuse to have people with pointed ears fight ancient battles.

    For some reason, I don’t think it’ll be quite so easy to approach Sanderson at this year’s Dragon Con as it was last.

  3. I’m not sure about catching an author at the beginning of their career. The closest to that experience is reading a book before a movie adaptation comes out, especially if the book itself is not widely known. For instance, I read Daniel Woodrell’s fantastic Winter’s Bone back in 2006, the year it came out. And now the movie adaptation (which I also really liked) is up for several Oscars, and I feel a strange sort of possessive pride about the story’s ascendancy into the limelight. I’m planning to re-read the book again once I get it off the library’s hold list.

  4. Many years ago I walked into a Children’s Bookstore and asked for a book appropriate for someone who feels they don’t fit in their family. The clerk handed me this book called Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone and said, “This just came out from England and is marvelous”. No one had heard of Harry Potter yet and yes I did buy it and gave it to my nephew who then inhaled it.

    Thank goodness for great bookstores and knowledgeable clerks not to mention fantastic librarians (and now good book bloggers) because it is through their work that we can discover these great books.

    And Christy – hopefully the movie will inspire more people to read Winter’s Bone. I had never heard Winter’s Bone and the movie just plain blew me away.

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