6 Degrees of Separation

6 Degrees of Separation: Books I Didn’t Like But More That I Did

It’s time for another adventure in Kate’s 6 Degrees of Separation Meme from her blog, Books Are My Favourite and Best. We are given a book to start with, and from there we free associate six books.

This month we begin with What I Loved by Siri Hustvedt, a novel I haven’t read.

1. The only book by Siri Hustvedt that I’ve read is The Enchantment of Lily Dahl, which my library book group read back in 1999. I remember nothing about this book except that I didn’t much like it, and nearly all the members of the group felt the same way. And that experience is why I’ve never read any more books by this author.

2. Ten years later (2009) another book, Firefly Lane by Kristin Hannah, produced a similar result. At our meeting one member opened with, “With friends like this, who needs enemies?” Everyone agreed with her. I have never read another novel by Kristin Hannah, even though she has become a very popular author. In fact, I’ve seen several book bloggers and Instagram readers refer to her as one of their “auto-buy authors,” meaning that they automatically buy every book the author publishes.

3. One of my “auto-buy authors” is Michael Connelly. His latest novel, which I preordered, is Fair Warning, published at the end of May 2020. Connelly started out as a journalist before turning into a full-time novelist.

4. Another author who started out as a journalist before turning to crime fiction is Edna Buchanan. She won a Pulitzer Prize for her newspaper work in 1986, but I love her crime novels set in Miami and featuring journalist Britt Montero. The first book in the series in Contents Under Pressure (1992). Buchanan is now in her 80s.

5. Mary Higgins Clark also wrote well into her golden years before she died on January 31, 2020, at age 92. She became known as the queen of romantic suspense. Her first novel, Where Are the Children? (1975), which I recently reread, is still one of the most suspenseful—and chilling—stories I’ve ever read.

6. Before Mary Higgins Clark, another Mary wrote many compelling romantic suspense novels that helped create the genre: Mary Stewart, who died in 2014 at age 97. Her first romantic suspense novel, Madam, Will You Talk?, was published in 1955. Her singular talent was combining romance with compelling mysteries that feature strong, capable women who have no fear of fending for themselves. During my high school and college years I marched against the Vietnam war while also devouring all of Mary Stewart’s novels, which formed a great backdrop for my own coming of age. 

So there we have it, a 6 Degrees of Separation list that progresses nicely from books that I didn’t like to books that I liked at lot.

© 2020 by Mary Daniels Brown

9 thoughts on “6 Degrees of Separation: Books I Didn’t Like But More That I Did”

  1. Mary Daniels Brown

    Thanks. I occasionally get stuck, too, and have to start over with something completely different.

  2. Mary Stewart was a big influence on a couple of my favourite authors. I’ve read a couple but still have plenty to explore.

    1. Mary Daniels Brown

      I think Mary Stewart was such an influence on subsequent writers because her female leads were able to take care of themselves and solve the mystery (or save the day) and then, afterwards, just happened to fall in love with the guy. The whole point of her books is what the woman is capable of, not the need for her to be rescued by a man. Thanks for commenting, Marg.

  3. I love how you start this chain, and I’m glad I’m not alone in taking against authors based on my first encounters with them! A recent example for me is Madeline Miller. I read Circe because a few of my friends recommended it to me. It should have been right up my street, but ended up not being. I now don’t want to read anything else by her!

    I’ve never read any Mary Higgins Clark, but know her name. My local library service has lots by her, so I’ll give her a whirl.

    1. Mary Daniels Brown

      In her later years MHC got pretty formulaic. I suggest you start with some of her earlier work. And I’m glad I’m not the only one who has avoided authors because of an initial bad experience. So many books, so little time–and all that. Thanks for reading.

  4. I’m glad your chain led you back into books you enjoyed, Mary! This is a clever way of starting and I shall try to remember it. It doesn’t occur to me to consider the negative aspects of the starter book and go with it. There are certainly authors I’ve been turned against on the basis of disliking one book. Occasionally that comes as a relief – one less author to think about!

    1. Mary Daniels Brown

      I didn’t mean to start out so negatively, Sandra, but I remember these two incidents so vividly. Thankfully, I’ve had many more pleasant than unpleasant experiences with books. Thanks for commenting.

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