I’m sure I’m not the only one who reads books by new authors, falls in love, and then just completely forgets to ever read anything else by them ever again. Or (also like me), you want to and maybe even purchase a few of their other books, and then just let them sit on your shelves forever, unread and collecting dust. Which happens embarrassingly often.
Today, I thought I’d take a look at sixteen authors I have only read once, loved, and never read again. Some of these are fairly recent reads – the first two on this list, I read for the first time this year – but for some of them, it’s been a while. Maybe writing this post will motivate me to pick them up sooner rather than later – there are at least a couple of them that are on my reading list this year, so fingers crossed.
For this list, I stuck to only authors who have a backlist or who have published other books since I have read them. So those who I can read more from, but haven’t yet.
Earlier this year, I read my very first Ottessa Moshfegh book, My Year of Rest and Relaxation (the obvious choice), and really enjoyed it. It’s dark and weird and I kind of hated the main character, but I found it so interesting and different. I think it says a lot that I enjoyed this so much even though it’s something that wouldn’t normally be my cup of tea – I don’t usually like books that deal with heavy drug use – so I definitely want to read more Ottessa Moshfegh. I think next on my list is Death in Her Hands, but let me know if there’s another one you think I’ll enjoy best.
Another author I read for the first time just this year, but I enjoyed I’m Afraid of Men so much that I went right out and bought two more Vivek Shraya books. Vivek Shraya is a trans musician and artist who also writes nonficiton books. I have (obviously) not read either of the two additional books I picked up yet, but I want to, because they sound really great. And are also very short, which is nice for months I’m behind on my nonfiction reading goal or just want to pick up something I can finish in an afternoon.
Last year, I read The Count of Monte Cristo and loved it, which was kind of unexpected. I think I just picked it up because it fit both my goals of reading more books by authors of color and reading at least six classics (joke’s on me, because I ended up reading twenty-two). It’s not the easiest task to find a BIPOC classic author, especially one who is as popular as Dumas, so I decided I needed to read one of his books. Naturally, I went with his most intimidating one, but I am glad I did because it is so well-loved for a reason.
This year, I am planning on reading another of his books, but went with the more manageable The Black Tulip, which seems similar to The Count of Monte Cristo, but is like a thousand pages shorter. I haven’t gotten around to it yet, but fingers crossed. It is near the top of books I keep by my desk to try and guilt myself into reading.
I have no idea how long Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell has been sitting on my shelves, but I’d say at least five or six years. What can I say? It’s really intimidating to pick up a book that is literally the size of my head. No matter how many amazing things I’ve heard about it. But I think I might finally get around to it this year, because Susanna Clarke also wrote my favorite book of last year, Piranesi. So I am feeling so much more motivated to pick up her thousand-page novel after loving her two-hundred and fifty page book so much.
Maria Dahvana Headley
This is a bit of a weird one because I haven’t actually read any of Maria Dahvana Headley’s original works of fiction. I have, however, read her translation of Beowulf, which I absolutely loved (and include in every post I can because I can’t shut up about it). But she did such a brilliant job, that I absolutely want to read some of her work. I recently picked up a copy of The Mere Wife, which is a novel based on Grendel’s mother (from Beowulf), so of course I have to read that. But I also just found Magonia in a pile of books I was about to unhaul (I think I only picked it up because Neil Gaiman blurbed it), so I obviously kept that one, too. Not sure when I’ll get around to reading more of her books, but it needs to happen.
You might recognize Kate Quinn from her two books that were everywhere when they were released – The Alice Network (which I think was a Reese Witherspoon book club pick) and, more recently, The Rose Code. I have, of course, read neither of those (though I do own The Alice Network and might try and read it this year). My first experience with Kate Quinn was with The Huntress, which I picked up for a reading experiment last year and very much enjoyed.
To be completely honest, I didn’t totally love Kate Quinn’s writing (I ended up giving The Huntress four stars). But I can’t resist historical fiction starring badass female characters, so I think the story is what got me here. I can see how that’s kind of her thing, so I am definitely curious about her other books and think they might be great to have around when I’m in the mood to read historical fiction.
Carmen Maria Machado
I read In the Dream House last year (for the same reading experiment as The Huntress, coincidentally) and really enjoyed it. It’s an “experimental memoir”, which was definitely something a bit out of my comfort zone. I did listen to the audiobook, so I think I might have missed some of the nuances of the writing, and I think I might want to revisit this one in a different format eventually.
But the book I had sitting on my shelves long before picking up In the Dream House is Her Body and Other Parties, which is a collection of short stories about the violence inflicted upon women’s bodies. I am honestly glad I read this after reading her memoir, which is about her experience being in an abusive same-sex relationship, because I just feel like it might be more impactful having read through her experience.
Although it had been on my radar for a while, I didn’t pick up Bunny until a post I did almost exactly a year ago where I read books based on my zodiac sign. While I still don’t know why this was a book recommendation for geminis, I do know I loved it (maybe it was the most accurate recommendation because it was the one I liked the most). Bunny is easily one of the weirdest books I have ever read, and I absolutely want to read more by Mona Awad. There’s a fair amount to choose from, so I’m not sure what I’ll pick up first, but All’s Well is definitely up there.
The one Anna-Marie McLemore book I have read is Blanca & Roja, which I read back in 2020. But like too many other authors on this list, I actually owned a couple of their other books – When the Moon Was Ours and The Weight of Feathers, which I believe is a Romeo & Juliet retelling. I might be a huge Shakespeare fan, but I don’t love R&J. So I don’t know that I’m still very interested in reading that one. I also don’t read very much YA anymore, but I think this is an author I would pick up next time I feel like reading YA. They write a lot of magical realism, which I love, and their books are incredibly diverse (their most recent release is about two non-binary teens and sounds amazing), which I really appreciate. So not really at the top of my list overall, but they’re very high on my list of YA I’m interested in checking out.
My immediate reaction upon finishing Kindred a couple years ago was “how the hell have I gone this long without reading Octavia Butler???” That book is seriously a masterpiece and Octavia Butler was brilliant. I did add Parable of the Sower to my reading list this year, but wasn’t really feeling it when I tried to pick it up last month. Not sure if I wasn’t in the mood or that book just isn’t for me. I might still try to read it this year, but I have a couple more I’m curious about (and a copy of Fledgling sitting on my shelves), and I desperately want to read more like Kindred.
Towards the end of 2019, I read Jennifer Wright’s Get Well Soon: History’s Worst Plagues and the Heroes Who Fought Them. That irony of that timing is not lost on me (nor the friends who then jokingly blamed me for the current plague after I wouldn’t stop talking about that book for months going into 2020). Despite the unfortunate timing of my reading that book, I loved it. Enough to accidentally purchase two copies of it. So while Jennifer Wright’s other books are not very science-y (which I do enjoy), they sound kind of awesome. The one currently on my shelves is It Ended Badly: Thirteen of the Worst Breakups in History (which maybe needs to be a Valentine’s Day read next year). But she has other books about deadly women and clothing that killed, which you know I need to read.
The only book by Sally Rooney I have read is Normal People. And I did really enjoy it, but it didn’t turn me into a Sally Rooney fangirl (it kind of seems like everyone either loves her books or hates them, and I’m somewhere in the middle). I did recently pick up a copy of Beautiful World, Where Are You because it was on sale (and we know I have a book buying problem). And I am interested in Conversations with Friends. So I obviously want to read more of her books, maybe to help me figure out how I feel about her writing, but I just haven’t felt excited to do so yet.
The Pillars of the Earth is one of my favorite books of all time. And yet it is still the only other book I have read by Ken Follett. I do own several others (including the entire Century Trilogy – which I scored at a dollar bookstore), and I do want to continue the Kindsbridge series, but his books are just so long. I read so much as a book blogger, and I also need the sense of accomplishment I get from finishing books to keep me motivated as a reader, so I just can’t bring myself to pick up another thousand-page book about a cathedral. No matter how much I loved the first one. But I really want to, so maybe I’ll try to squeeze at least one of them in my reading list soon.
I adored Freshwater back when it was released in 2018 (I’m pretty sure I actually got an ARC of that one back when it was a debut by an unknown new author). And for some reason still haven’t read her sophomore book, The Death of Vivek Oji, which has been sitting on my shelves since its release day, almost two years ago. It is on my reading list for this year, so hopefully I fix this one soon. Either way, it hasn’t stopped me from preordering her new release, You Make a Fool of Death With Your Beauty, which comes out later this month (and which I may or may not be reading for a post). So I will be reading more Akwaeke Emezi this year, probably even two of them. I am very excited.
I think that’s it for all of the authors I read once, loved and haven’t read again (even though they have other books out and I have absolutely no excuse). Are there any authors you haven’t gotten around to reading for a second time? Which of the authors on this list do you think I need to read first?
And check out my bookshop, where you can buy books and also shop my curated collections of my personal favorites AND all of the books I’ve read for my reading experiments. Or you can just buy whatever books you want to. I get a small commission at no extra cost to you, and you get to support your choice of indie bookstores – it’s a win all around!