Author Reading Challenge

I like a good challenge now and then …

This last June I started a new book reading challenge for myself that involves reading all novels from one author at a time. On my Shelfari account, I set new reading goals every January — an average of 30 books per year. Some years I surpass my goal, and other years I barely reach 30 novels. I started getting more and more busy so I went to reading young adult chapter books to stay on schedule (among other reasons as noted here).

So, I’ve decided that instead of setting an amount of books to read by the end of the year, I should try reading all of the books from one author. It would have to be one of my favorites, of course. And the author should have A LOT of books already completed. The author of choice should be one whose personality intrigues me (via biographies or memoirs), one whose writing I respect and appreciate, and one whose characters suck me in by the first chapter. The winner is Stephen King.

Stephen King photo courtesy of Amy Guip, 2006.

Stephen King photo courtesy of Amy Guip, 2006.

I am currently reading his memoir On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft, and find that I agree with him on many writing styles and mindsets going into creating a world of fiction. I don’t write horror stories, but I appreciate what he accomplishes with characters and plots — even if he writes himself into his stories. Plus, he writes so damn honestly, and I would love to be able to write as open, carefree, and honest as he does someday. What better way to make that happen than to read his books and practice mimicking his style? (More on mimicking other author’s styles later!)

Not only do I want to read all of his novels (and I am not forcing a time frame), but I want to read them in order. I’ve read The Green Mile and all but the last book in The Dark Tower series, but I may choose to reread or skip them when the time comes. As for The Dark Tower, I cannot get enough of it (many others agree, I know), yet I am unable to bring myself to finish it. It seems too final. Like all of his books have stemmed from this series and when that ends, all of his brilliance will be wrapped up and topped with a cute red rose or obliterated before my eyes. So I may skip those books entirely and finish them at the very end. We shall see …

The Dark Tower series graphic novel image of Stephen King's Roland Deschain. Photo courtesy of

The Dark Tower series graphic novel image of Stephen King’s Roland Deschain. Photo courtesy of

My thought is that if I read all of his other novels and then come back to The Dark Tower series I will understand more about the world he created than going into the end cold turkey. I understand that all of his novels don’t connect with the series, but many of them do. There’s nothing I enjoy more than trying to put pieces of a story together by connecting characters or places from other stories into new ones, either in the same series or from other similar story lines.

Also, I love symbolism (I was that annoying person in English class who was desperate to find a connection between everything in the story we were studying). It is my favorite part of writing. Once in awhile I focus too much on making it present in my stories, while most times I do not think about any connections and just write. During the latter, it sometimes takes one of my “reviewers” (friends whom I trust reading my work first) to point it out to me. Those are awesome moments!

The Dark Tower series is the largest piece of the puzzle in Stephen King’s writing (in my opinion), and I’m ready to see the bigger picture only AFTER I’ve read all the books surrounding it.

Wish me luck!

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If any other readers out there give similar challenges or already read one author at a time, please share your experience in my comment section. I would love to hear about them and which authors everyone is religiously (Sorry, S.K.) reading!

What are your thoughts?