There are the authors we like and the authors we love. And then there are the authors we really love: the ones whose books we buy automatically, without even bothering to see what they’re about because really, all we need to see is that name on the cover and we know it will be worth it. Without further ado, here are six of my personal favorite “insta-buy” authors.
1. Fredrik Backman
I fell completely in love with Fredrik Backman’s first novel, A Man Called Ove, which took the cliche of the “grumpy old man with a heart of gold” and breathed new life into it. Since then I’ve eagerly devoured everything with his name on it (including the equally wonderful My Grandmother Asked Me To Tell You She’s Sorry and Britt-Marie Was Here), pre-ordered his upcoming novel Beartown, and recommended him to everybody I know. Backman’s books are effortlessly charming, packed with warmth, humor, and poignancy without ever becoming saccharine or overly sentimental. His stories deftly weave together piercing sadness and laugh-out-loud humor, managing to capture both the fragility and the resiliency of the human spirit. Reading a Fredrik Backman novel is like wrapping yourself in a warm blanket or getting a hug from a long-absent friend— comforting, reassuring, a reminder that even when things are hard, life can still be deeply good.
2. Gillian Flynn
I originally picked up Gone Girl just to see what everybody was talking about. I ended up tearing through it, and immediately went back to pick up Gillian Flynn’s other novels, Sharp Objects and Dark Places. I’ve basically been in withdrawal ever since (her 2015 novella The Grownup helped, but wasn’t nearly enough). I love the dark, twisty-turny nature of her stories, and the fantastically unsettling sense of being caught in a bizarre game of cat and mouse. Flynn’s books are full of subtle clues, sudden twists, and strange, unlikeable characters who still manage to be fascinating and unforgettable. Like riding a roller coaster through an unlit tunnel, I’m never sure of where I’m going, but I know it’s going to be one hell of a ride. According to her website, Flynn is working on another novel and all I can say is Please, Gillian, hurry up because I’m dying over here!
3. Bill Bryson
Way back in 2001, a friend loaned my family a copy of A Walk in the Woods to take with us on vacation. I’ve been hooked on Bill Bryson’s books since then. Whether he’s writing as an American adjusting to life in Britain (Notes From A Small Island), as an ex-pat adjusting back to life in America (I’m A Stranger Here Myself), exploring the history of the universe (A Short History of Nearly Everything), or investigating the origin of the English language (Mother Tongue), Bryson’s books continually manage to be informative, entertaining, and gut-bustingly funny. I learn things and I laugh until my sides hurt— it’s the ultimate win-win! And writing this entry has reminded me that The Road to Little Dribbling is now out in paperback, so if you’ll just excuse me while I pop off to the book store for a minute…
4. Liane Moriarty
I first became acquainted with Liane Moriarty’s writing a few months ago, when I picked up The Husband’s Secret. Since then, I’ve been compulsively binge-reading all her other books, tearing through Big Little Lies and Truly Madly Guilty in quick succession (up next: What Alice Forgot). I’m completely hooked and really, can you blame me? Her novels are sharp, suspenseful, and shot through with wicked humor. She plays with unreliable narrators and alternating points of view, allowing you to see a single event from the differing perspectives of everybody involved. It’s chick lit with an unexpected bite, and I can’t get enough.
5. John Harwood
No, not the CNBC journalist. This John Harwood is an Australian author who sucked me in with his first novel The Ghost Writer, and who I haven’t been able to get enough of since. I snapped up both of his subsequent novels, The Seance and The Asylum and read them each in a single sitting. Harwood is an absolute master of the Gothic mystery. His books are deliciously creepy and atmospheric, full of secrets and shadows and dark, rambling houses. He makes frequent use of stories within stories, layering tales on top of each other and weaving them together in mesmerizing fashion. Unfortunately, Harwood hasn’t published anything since 2013 and, much like with Gillian Flynn, I’m in a desperate state of withdrawal. Mr. Harwood, on the infinitesimal chance that you’re reading this, please, please write another book!
6. Jenny Lawson
If you haven’t yet discovered the insane, bizarre, heartfelt comic genius that is Jenny Lawson, do yourself a favor and go read her blog right now. Well, I mean, finish reading this article first, but then go read her blog (I recommend starting with the saga of the cobra/mongoose battle scene). Once you do, you’ll understand why I bought both Let’s Pretend This Never Happened and Furiously Happy the minute I could, and why I’m looking forward so eagerly to next month’s release of You Are Here. Lawson is one of the funniest writers I’ve ever encountered. She’s laugh-out-loud, tears-streaming-down-your-face hilarious, but also wonderfully honest about the harder, messier, more painful aspects of life. Lawson’s writing deals with everything from her struggles with mental illness to the antics of her taxidermist father, all with a warmth and openness that you can’t help but be drawn to.
Who are your top insta-buy authors?
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