Digging Deeper or Branching Out: What Are You Reading?

So I used to be unable to say who my favorite author was. To be honest, I still don’t know that I’d have a straight answer. But my main issue was this: I rarely read more than one book by the same issue.

What? How could that be?

I guess my problem is I’m always so eager for new and different content that I tend to just run to another author instead of checking the library catalogue to see what else that single author has written.

But in the last two years I’ve finished all the novels by two different women. And it made me start to think more about this reading dilemma. Is it better to branch out to new things, or to dig deeper into an author’s works to get a better understanding?

My college required us to take two “advanced studies” literature classes. These involved honing in on an author of my professor’s choosing. For my British literature professor it was C.S. Lewis. For my American one it was a slightly less well known historical fiction author named Denise Giardina.


The thing was, I’d not only never had the chance to really dig deep into an author’s works on my own time, but I had never done it in a class either. Most of my professors had us read a dozen texts over a semester, spending a maximum of a week with each author. So to have the time to really sink into someone’s works and study them was incredible.

It gave a better feeling of the author as a whole. We noticed Lewis’s incredible metaphors, his regular and saddening misogyny, his clear influence from George MacDonald, Tolkien, and others. With Giardina we noted her themes of universal salvation, the regular brokenness between fathers and children, the continual concern for the earth and the animals.

Recently I finished reading all of Rainbow Rowell’s novels (though not her short stories yet). I’m not trying to put her on the same level as my literature classes. But I do really enjoy her works. And it was very wonderful to think by the end how much more I noticed repetition and variation between the books. Even with a teen fiction writer like Rowell, I think reading more than one book of hers has made me better away of her writing. Her simple yet humorous style. Her concern for body positivity. Her regular theme of choices and how those affect us.

The reality is I think we need to do a little of both. There are some people who just sit and read one author’s works, or maybe a couple they  rotate through. And then there are others who never touch the same author twice.

I think it’s good to have a mix. Have authors you can delve a little deeper into and understand more about their writing individually. And have other books that are a little more out of the blue. I think nothing is more important for a reader, and especially for a writer, than to absorb a variety, but maybe not at the cost of losing any sense of roots.

Do you stick with one author? Do you branch out? Do you have any authors you’ve read multiple works by? Have you ever taken a class devoted to just one writer? Any other thoughts are great too, but there are a few to get you started!


Filed under Reading

10 responses to “Digging Deeper or Branching Out: What Are You Reading?

  1. Iridescence

    I do both, to be honest. For romance authors I mostly won’t make an effort to read other books they’ve written while for fantasy and YA authors I mostly would check out if they’ve written anything else. There are about only two or three romance authors whose books have all been read by me.

  2. I really enjoyed the Rainbow Rowell books I’ve read (particularly Attachments). I’ve only read two of them, though, and I’m not sure what’s holding me back from reading the rest. I think it has something to do with the fact that I rarely read multiple works by the same author, especially if that author straddles multiple genres (like Rowell does–Attachments and Fangirl might appeal to different audiences).

    • It is very true that Rowell somehow decided to do both young adult and adult reads, but I suppose since I like both genres (and being a young adult myself) it hasn’t really bothered me all that much. But I can understand how it might be more difficult for someone else. Read what you love, that’s the main thing!

  3. I’ve always had a favourite author, and a favourite novel by someone else, but I do think it’s good to read widely, if for no other reason than that it makes it easier for others to buy books for you. More choice, you see.

    • I’m glad you have always had a favourite author! That’s a very positive thing. And great point on making it easier for others to buy books!

  4. Jeremy

    This is an interesting discussion. I think I agree that we should do a little of both.

    I tend to read as many authors as I can. If someone really nailed it with his or her book I will surely look out for other books by that author. Jonathan Stroud, Garth Stein and David Nicholls are just a few examples of authors I’m loyal to. I want to read all their novels, or at least as much as I can.

    At the same time I want to discover many different voices. I’m not one of these diverse readers who keep statistics of what they’ve read, but I do want to keep finding great new authors.

    So yes, a bit of both should be fine.

    • I’m glad I’m not alone in thinking it’s important to do a little of both. You also make a great point that loyalty to an author can be a positive thing as well. I hadn’t considered it in terms of helping an author, but the way you phrased it brought that to mind. Thank you for your feedback!

  5. I do both, too, to be honest. There are some authors whose works I devour, and others who I just read one book by. It really depends on how I’m feeling. Usually if I find a thriller novel I like, I’ll seek out the author’s other books. I LOVE a good thriller so that probably has something to do with it. 🙂

  6. Cool topic! I hadn’t really thought about this specific reading habit until now.

    I’ve taken English classes that focus on one or two authors and I love getting to know them and their work better. On the other hand there are some authors whose writing is so repetitive and predictable that I have to read somebody else before I can circle back. I agree with you and some of the other commenters, that having a balance is good.

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