Yesterday, my good friend Abby sent me a copy of an interview conducted with Jasper Fforde over at Shelf Awareness (and note that because she is such a good friend, she entitled the email “Your BF”, and I immediately knew who she meant… despite having a husband… ). The interview is quite short (and can be read here), and focuses on what Fforde is reading and who his literary influences are and all that delightful stuff that gives us fans a peak into the mind of this marvelous man.
Now, largely I marveled at how similar my tastes in authors are to those of Mr. Fforde (clearly indicating that we are destined), but one thing jarred me. I’m all for authors mentioning favorite books or authors that I’ve never heard of (I love the constant realization that there are far too many books in the world for me to ever keep track of them all… and it’s always nice to think that maybe one of these books or writers will become a new favorite), but it throws me for a loop when they list someone as a literary BFF who I do have some experience with and who I just… don’t really care for. In this interview, Fforde lists Alexander McCall Smith as one of his Top Five Authors, which is no small deal in my book. Everyone else on his list (Wodehouse, Bryson, Twain, & Vonnegut) are all writers I can get behind (and I’ve sung at least three of their praises on this here blog), but the McCall Smith mention stopped me dead in my tracks. I tried several times (at least thrice) to read the first book in his Ladies’ Detective Series, and I just COULD NOT DO IT. I was bored and just didn’t get what all the hoopla was about, and I eventually wrote McCall Smith off as one of those writers that I assumed I just wasn’t going to get.
And now because of Jasper Fforde, I have myself second-guessing myself and wondering if I have been too hasty in my dismissal. Perhaps Jasper is referring to McCall’s non-Ladies’ Detective Series books? To anyone who is well-versed in the ways of McCall Smith, would I be better served in trying some of his other series instead to see what I’m missing? If I were to only read one McCall Smith book what would you suggest?
I also found myself wondering if the rest of you book lovers are as impressionable as I am. Are there any authors out there who would cause you to do a 180 and give an otherwise neglected–by-you writer another shot? Or perhaps you have someone else in your life who you find gives unerringly good book advice and if they say to read it, said book automatically goes to the top of your list? I have to say, with the exception of Jennifer Johnson is Sick of Being Single, on which we have agreed to disagree, Abby has pretty much never steered me wrong when it comes to book choices (which is good since she ultimately decides which books I’ll review for BookPage, and it would stink if she was always sticking me with stuff that was not my thing… and even when she does stick me with something that’s not my usual quirky “Steph” read, she is aware she’s doing it… which counts for something, right? And that doesn’t happen all that often anyway…). And even if I do have a massive crush on Jasper Fforde (but in a totally professional/respectable and not at all creepy way, I assure you), my darling husband has a pretty good read (ha! See what I did there?) on whether a book will be to my liking, and it’s rare that we disagree on anything, never mind books, all that often. After all, Tony is the one who has me convinced that I have to give my literary nemesis, Charles Dickens, another go. Because of him, I will eventually conquer Great Expectations! True love will out! And then of course, there are all of you book bloggers, who add at least three or four books to my teetering and tottering mammoth of a TBR pile… No wonder I never make any progress with that thing!