Thursday, March 03, 2011

Not Reading My Favorite Authors

One day a few years back I went to search through the shelf for an as yet unread Dick Francis book. His titles are so short and often similar that I have little idea of whether or not I've read a particular book by checking its title. Sadly, after going through all of them, I realized that yes, I had actually read all of them. Which made me sad.

I have two of James Lee Burke's pre-Robicheaux books on the shelf, as well as his two most recent novels. I think James Lee Burke is one of the top (pick a number, any number, the lower the better) writers we have today.

Charles Dickens is an all-time favorite, but I have yet to read Bleak House and a number of others. He's one of the few writers I've read who make it feel as though they have a wire straight to your brain and what they're saying to you is more than the words that appear on the page.

The problem with reading all the books of your favorite authors is simply that you've read all the books by your favorite authors. I'm not sure what good it does to simply take up shelf space and leave unread volumes to themselves, but there's a certain anticipation, a strange appreciation to simply having them, to knowing they're there. I will read them, I'll read them all, and when I do, I know I'll feel some sort of loss, as I did when I'd inadvertently run through Dick Francis.

After his wife's death, Francis began collaborating with his son, Felix. The books are fine, clearly Dick Francis books, and I've read the first three. Now that Dick himself has left us, I'm clinging to the last remaining collaboration. I'm not sure why, or what this means, because I really do want to read it. It's just that then it will be gone.

Yes, I can always reread them, and I'm sure I will, in much the same way I've reread Len Deighton's Bernard Sampson books. It's not the same thing, though.

As to the Burke, I keep checking to see announcements for his next book, which I imagine should be out sometime in mid- or late summer. I just saw where Felix Francis has his first solo offering coming out in May. I have a feeling I'll read the first Felix before the last Dick/Felix, though.

And for Dickens? I have a complete, 12 volume hardcover set of the Oxford University Press's The Letters of Charles Dickens. If you look up how much each volume costs, you'll see how ridiculous it is to let them languish on the shelves. I do look at them often, despite the underwhelming quality of the books themselves (glued bindings on books that cost hundreds of dollars apiece? Really?), but I don't want them to reveal too much about Dickens' work before I get there myself.

So what's stopping me? One never knows. More contemplation is in order. I wonder if anyone else out there doesn't read books by their favorite authors. It sounds awfully strange when you ask that out loud...


Post a Comment

<< Home