Monday, February 11, 2013

Book Review: Start Here: Read Your Way into 25 Amazing Authors

Start Here: Read Your Way Into 25 Amazing Authors
There are so many fantastic authors and great books out there that sometimes it’s hard to know where to begin. Start Here solves that problem; it tells you how to read your way into 25 amazing authors from a wide range of genres--from classics to contemporary fiction to comics.

Each chapter presents an author, explains why you might want to try them, and lays out a 3- or 4-book reading sequence designed to help you experience fully what they have to offer. It’s a fun, accessible, and informative way to enrich your reading life.

A wide array of writers, critics, and bloggers offer their expertise and passion for these authors to help you get started reading authors you’ve always wanted to try.

Includes chapters by Erin Morgenstern (The Night Circus) on Neil Gaiman, Joe Hill (Heart-Shaped Box) on Bernard Malamud, Linda Fairstein (The Alexandra Cooper Series) on Edgar Allan Poe, and Kevin Smokler (Practical Classics) on Sherman Alexie.

Also includes chapters on reading your way Into:

Margaret Atwood    Jane Austen    Ray Bradbury    Italo Calvino    Philip K Dick  
Charles Dickens    E.M. Forster    Gabriel Garcia Marquez    Ernest Hemingway
Zora Neale Hurston    John Irving    Stephen King    Cormac McCarthy   
Herman Melville    Arthur Miller    Alice Munro    Haruki Murakami   
Richard Russo    Zadie Smith    David Foster Wallace    Colson Whitehead
(Cover & Description from Goodreads.  Source.)
Publisher: Book Riot
Publication Date: December 20, 2012
Kat's Review
I started this guide thinking that it contained short passages or partial chapters from each author's most famous piece of work, designed to give the reader a taste of what the author brings to the table.  Instead, the book reads more like a series of book recommendations one would receive from a good friend who is passionate about a particular author.  The recommendations are personal, and written in a tone that makes one feel as though they are learning something not only about the authors being recommended, but the writer doing the recommending.  Rather than listing the author's works in order and providing a short summary, the chapters offer insight into why the author is bring recommended and what the writer found particularly captivating about those stories.
There is something here for everyone.  Although American authors are well-represented, they are joined in good company by authors from other countries, including Margaret Atwood and Alice Munro, two Canadian authors worth their weight in gold. The guide encourages readers to go back and re-read books from high school or university that they may not have appreciated at the time.  This struck a cord with me.  I read Margaret Atwood's Handmaid's Tale in high school and in my 16 year old arrogance thought it was unrealistic and dumb.  I read it again a few years later and was chilled to the bone by just how plausible the storyline really was.  I was able to connect the dots between her fictional world and the very real ways in which the themes of the book were playing out in the world around me.  This guide encourages readers to do just that: go back and look at an author in a new light, or pick up a book from an author you may have been avoiding for whatever reason.
The chapters are short and concise, and at just 100 pages this is a book that one can read front to back in a flash.  The true usefulness of the guide comes, however, from being a short reference book to be consulted again and again when searching for something new to read, or when wondering where to start with a particular author.  I will be giving Italo Calvino a go, and reading the latest Alice Munro book that I picked up but have  yet to open.
 My traditional rating system doesn't really apply here, as this book isn't so much a good read the way a novel would be, but it certainly is a good resource.  It's perfect for anyone looking to expand their reading list, or curious as to what all the fuss is about the authors included in this book.  Highly recommended.

I was provided a copy of the book for review from the editors.
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