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02 January 2014 @ 10:36 pm
Timeline of my author obsessions  
I'm sometimes perplexed by inquiries about writers who have "influenced" me, or particular works that have stuck with me.  I have tended to binge on a particular writer for a number of years -- reading everything I could get my hands on by that person, buying new books as soon as they came out, flipping through anthologies for his/her name, etc.  Then I move on to someone else, although I maintain an active interest in my previous obsession.  Now that I think about it, this goes back as far as I could read.  I have vague memories of plowing through the Danny Dunn & Tom Corbett series, as well as Hugh Walters's Chris Godfrey books, while still in grade school.

I'm sure I learned a lot about writing from each of the writers I devoured, but I'd have a hard time putting my finger on telling you exactly what.

Anyway, I realized I could make something like a timeline of my obsession authors at different ages.  This list isn't exhaustive, of course.  For fifteen years I regularly read the annual Year's Best SF collection cover-to-cover every year, and sampled a lot of writers on the way.  Also this list doesn't include poets, historians, biographers, science writers, etc.  The dates are approximate, and don't reflect the actual first or last time I read a particular writer, just the period of my greatest concentration on that person.  Nor does it include ongoing, long-term writers whose works I return to over and over, like Shakespeare, Tolkien, etc.  I also had comparatively brief periods where I read a very small number of works by particular writers (Robert Sheckley and Alfred Bester come to mind) which didn't stretch out into long-term habits like these.  And of course there are a lot of authors of whom I've read only one book, but it's a book I adore.

But for what it's worth:

My Writing Influences

These days I read rather differently, both because I read many more short stories than novels and because I make a concerted effort to sample widely within the genre.
 
 
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quasi randomkaolinfire on January 3rd, 2014 03:57 am (UTC)
Very cool :)

My obsession starts with...hmm. When I was 12ish? O. S. Card, Anne McCaffrey, Terry Brooks, Terry Pratchett, Robert Heinlein, L. Ron Hubbard, Robert Asprin, Robert Anton Wilson, Douglas Adams, William Gibson, David Brin, Samuel R. Delany, ... Hmm. A little older, , and then splattered/fizzled/exploded. I lost obsession after that, went just about anywhere (though not as past the common paths as perhaps would have behooved me). Still working on that, when I can. Reading seems to be following the path of obsession....

Okay, now I'm trying to go back to my shelves to see where my paths went next because I remember there were other trails. Sheesh. Of course, the picture I took is just a little too lo-res. Joseph Heller, Margaret Atwood, Neal Stephenson, Tom Robbins, Emma Bull, ... no, I'm fading. I need to try this again.

Thanks :)
Ken: Happyken_schneyer on January 3rd, 2014 04:00 am (UTC)
Neat! Maybe this will spark a little brush fire of people remembering their obsessions...
girlspell: going placesgirlspell on January 3rd, 2014 11:25 am (UTC)
You started Robert Heinlein at 12? Wow...I didn't start to read him till after I met my husband (who only read Sci fi.) I've just about read everything by him within a year. I'm glad you read Dorothy Sayers. She's amazing. Love her books.
Ken: Giggleken_schneyer on January 4th, 2014 05:43 am (UTC)
Thanks, Rachel!
asakiyumeasakiyume on January 3rd, 2014 12:32 pm (UTC)
THis is so excellent--how cool that you made this! You've got a great variety here. I'm pleased to see Wendy & Richard Pini :-)
Ken: Blowing Kissken_schneyer on January 4th, 2014 05:47 am (UTC)
Aw, thanks! I haven't kept up with WQ in years, but I loved the passion they put into it.
tactical_gracetactical_grace on January 3rd, 2014 12:40 pm (UTC)
A little surprised to see Jablokov here. He's an author I definitely could have binged on, if I could ever have found more than one book that he wrote. Really liked _Carve the Sky_. Never saw anything else.
tactical_gracetactical_grace on January 3rd, 2014 12:42 pm (UTC)
Also, a map such as that for me would have an embarrassing P.Anthony stretch in it. From a long time ago, but still.
Ken: Hmmmmmken_schneyer on January 4th, 2014 05:49 am (UTC)
Thanks!

Mostly I binged on Alex's short stories. He had a collection in the early 90s that I loved. And there were several novels, actually...
madderbradmadderbrad on January 11th, 2014 12:11 pm (UTC)
Like the first time you kicked off some nostalgia with your mention of Hugh Walters' books. :-)

I assume that 'grade school' is U.S. speak for our 'primary school', just before your chart starts, i.e. up to age 12?

That streak of yellow at age 40 should be entitled 'J. Rowling & friends', right? All of those fanfic authors ... did you read much fanfic?

How were you able to assemble this chart? Have you kept a diary throughout the years? Just curious, I don't know if I could match this sort of exercise. And I've undoubtedly read a lot less.

I really have to get stuck into Pratchett one of these days ...
Ken: Happyken_schneyer on May 5th, 2014 12:23 am (UTC)
Hi Brad!

(I don't know why I've been so bad at replies on LJ recently. My apologies.)

Yes, "grade school" is through age 12. I did read a lot of fanfic, but only from about age 45 to 47 (I started about a month after HBP, and more-or-less stopped about two months after DH. I think fanfic filled a very particular emotional niche at a very particular time for me...)

No diary -- I don't know how I know. I can sort of picture where I was when reading certain books. I know I was in my sophomore year dorm room the first time I read Le Guin's "The Lathe of Heaven", for example, and that I was in our apartment in South Attleboro when I read most of Dorothy Sayers. It's like that.
Words, Words, Wordsdavidkudler on August 22nd, 2016 09:29 pm (UTC)
Amazing how many of these overlap for you and me.

Well, perhaps not. ;-)

Some interesting differences in time frame, however, and you've got some folks here I don't know. So yay!
Words, Words, Words: Daviddavidkudler on August 22nd, 2016 09:33 pm (UTC)
Biggest difference, now that I look at it: Heinlein was there for me at the top, but a distant 4th to Bradbury, Tolkien, and Asimov. :-)