In the January 2021 Newsletter we asked our readers the most random or unique ways in which they discovered a new author.

Here are the responses:

Kenicia: I have worked in a library for almost 30 years. Soon after I started, I was checking shelves to ensure the books were in order. I came across a title I Should Have Seen It Coming When the Rabbit Died in the biographies. The title really grabbed my attention. Through the years, I have encountered many books many ways, but this was definitely a random discovery. The book is hilarious, by the way, and the author is Teresa Bloomingdale.

Ann Marie: My hairdresser has section in her shop and I get to look to my hearts content , I have found new authors there. My newest one is John Gilstrip, I started “No Mercy” and could not put it down this was his 1st in a series now I need to find more to see his progression. Thanks for the great column

Louise: I don’t have any stories like you wrote. I get free books from Amazon. You can sometimes run across really good authors that way. Course a lot of it is dross, but the gems you find in the garbarge are definitely worth it.

Carol Ann: I randomly choose books in Barnes and Noble by standing there bent sideways reading titles! Gets a bit tiring, but since I’m always looking for something new, the titles are more intriguing than the authors.

Corinne: Loved your story of the woman who wouldn’t leave the plane until she finished that last chapter.

Years ago I flew to Scotland, rented a bicycle, and did my own private bike tour of the country. I thought I’d be out in the pubs at night, but soon discovered I was too tired after riding/playing tourist all day to do much going out. I’d rather lay in bed and read at the end of my day. I hadn’t brought any books with me (this being long before the time of the e-reader!) so I went into a used book store. There I looked for the fattest paperback I could find, (love my criteria at the time!😂) which ended up being one of the Courtney novels by Wilbur Smith. I think it might have been Birds of Prey but don’t really remember, now. I devoured that book before I even left Scotland, went into another used book store before I left and bought the other two books in that trilogy, and have been reading his stuff ever since. Serendipity!

Vicki: Different ways I learn about new authors:

From family and friends IRL who are also readers
From people in my work’s book chat
From people in my library’s book club
Through sites like Order of Books that I follow
Through recommendations from my Indie bookstore
Reading a book that refers to another
Seeing a “best of…” list
From emails from places like Book Bub
A fellow bookstore shopper
And even sheer happenstance

If I already answered this, I’m sure that list was different. I never know how I’ll discover a new author. Some of the last were from an Order of Books recommendation (Julia Spencer-Fleming – mystery) and my daughter (a romance author).

Irene: Thank you for putting your newsletter every month. I appreciate the amount of time you put into this and always enjoy perusing it for new things to read.I also wanted to express my appreciation for being selected as a winner of your contest in 2020. I was able to combine the gift card with my trade in allowance and apply them towards my new Kindle Paperwhite.

When I initially saw your topic for the month, I tried to think of unusual ways I find a new book to read and was honestly drawing a blank. Many of us rely on book reviews (mine comes out of the local paper), blogs, an attractive cover, etc. Then I remembered that I started participating in the Seattle Times book bingo. While it does not recommend a specific book, it recommends book topics as a starting point to find a book to fill in the square. Complete a row and you get bingo. Complete the entire card and it’s a blackout. Either way, you can enter to win a prize. In 2019, I decided to try for the blackout and ended up reading about 2 books a week just to stay on track. It was a bit of a mental workout and while I finished, I was hesitant to do so in 2020 since I want to read at a more leisurely pace.

Out of 29 books, several were quite intriguing. The Devotion of Suspect X by Keigo Hishin, which is a little bit thriller and suspense. Save Me The Plums by Ruth Reichl is non-fiction and gives you an armchair view of what it would be like to be a food critic/editor. (Certainly, that would be a dream job for some!) I also enjoyed a tiny volume called Seattle Prohibition by Brad Holden, which was locally published and recounts the story of bootleggers during Prohibition in our local area. Given Seattle’s proximity to Canada, it was a major conduit for legitimate liquor brought over by fast running boats under the nose of custom officials by a former policeman.

AJl: My craziest was similar to yours – I was flying to Hawaii and my very first Nook had died. The man next to me had just finished a paperback and I was dying with nothing to read so I asked him if I could read it – thinking to download it in order to finish. He said I could keep it. It was one of the Sigma Force novels by James Rollins, and I ended up reading the whole series while in Hawaii for the week.

BTW – just read Without Sanction by Don Betley based on your newsletter and really enjoyed it, so I have already pre-ordered the second one. Thanks for the recommendation. Can’t wait for the next Peter Ash novel either – really enjoy that series so thanks for that recommendation as well.

Claire: I have several so I’ll bullet list them:

1. First and foremost, it’s your newsletters. You provide a ton information and I’m always amazed at how many books you manage to read and review. Feedback from your readers is also a plus.

2) My NetGalley membership (free) As a NetGalley reviewer, I’ve discovered many new to me authors that I would not normally give a second look. Authors like Suzanne Goldring who wrote a historical fiction about WWII in The Girl Without a Name. There was also Kimberly McCreight who wrote a mystery/thriller in A Good Marriage. Rona Halsall wrote a thriller, The Ex-Boyfriend. These are just a few.

3) Having a book blog also allows me to read and review books from indie authors. One in particular stood out for me. Adrian Siska wrote The Next Step. It’s a sci-fi novel about AI.

4) Bookish First is also a good way to discover authors. At least you get to read an excerpt to decide whether you like the book or not. I discovered G. A. Aiken who wrote The Princess Knight and Marie Lu who wrote Skyhunter.

5) Lastly, I’m on several publishers Reviewers & Influencers lists so I receive regular emails to read and review Advance Reader Copies or finished copies of books they have available.

That’s about it. It will be interesting to read responses from others.

Mark: My wife and I sell a few books on eBay. Ones that aren’t worth listing individually, we have in a “pick your own” buck-a-book listing. One of the books in that box was “Whispers Under Ground” by Ben Aaronovitch. I’d heard of him, and the Rivers of London series, but didn’t know anything about him. Since the book we had was book 3 in the series, I checked out the first two from the library, read them to my wife, and we both loved them. So right now we’re reading that third book!

Chris: Hi Graeme. It sounds like your new year has been busy! I’m always on the lookout for new books to read. While I’ve gotten some great leads for books in this newsletter (thank you)– I’ve also had good luck when I’ve read articles about famous people who talk about their favorite books. I discovered Outlander when I was reading an article in a local weekly (The Austin Chronicle) years ago. I have also randomly asked people at the local farmers market about which books they love–for a reader, that’s one of their favorite things to talk about. Finally, I first heard about Susan Wittig Albert’s China Bayles series when I saw Ms. Albert on a television gardening show, of all places.

Margie: I worked at a retail store in Massachusetts. One night I heard a woman who was standing at a ‘book on tape’ display, telling her friend that she ‘had read a book by this author and it was the funniest book ever’. After she left, I ran over to see who the author was. It was Janet Evanovich. The first book I bought was “Back to the Bedroom”… I have read all of her books since then (except the comic book style). She is a favorite!

Norma: I really enjoy your emails and get great book ideas. One of my all time authors is Deon Meyer. Favorite is Bood Safari but I have read them all.

There is an independent bookstore near Portland in Multnomah Village, Annie Bloom’s. I was introduced to this author by a lady who worked there.

Patricia: I’ve been reading a series called the Library Lovers Mysteries by Jenn McKinlay and in this series, she often mentions authors whose books the librarian recommends to the library patrons or books that are read at the “Crafternoon” meetings. I have found a number of authors whose books I enjoy by noting those names and checking out their books.

Pam: Linda Fairstein’s book covers always captured my attention. Since she wrote primarily about New York City and I am originally from there, I look at her covers and try to decipher which area she is going to write about. I was born there and spent the first 30 years of my life there, I’m still finding things about NYC that I never knew. She finds the most obscure and out of the way places that I’ve never even heard about. It amazes me.

sven: Lavie Tidhar, new book on my local library website

Rose: I love the way you did your wife’s birthday! My daughter’s birthday is also January 9!

I am currently reading the series, “The Black Dagger Brotherhood” by J. R. Ward. I never would have found this series if I hadn’t randomly tuned in to an Instagram live with Sarah J Maas where it was casually mentioned.

I immediately ordered the first 7 books online without doing any research on them! The arc of this series is incredible.

Thanks for your newsletter!

Neil: Years ago, 2009 I was sick in bed with something. I can’t remember what. My wife who felt sorry for me and knew I really enjoyed books by Preston & Child all of which I had read at that time decided to surprise me with a new book. She was very pleased to find a new book by Child and I think she even wrapped it nicely. The book was Nothing to Lose by Lee Child. I had never heard of him before but needed to read something. Well I enjoyed so much I went to his first book and had read them all and have the latest one, The Sentinel on my self to be read soon. I still enjoy Preston and Child read all their books.

Have you read their books? There early books are their best but I enjoy them all.

Terry: In response to your question this month (what are the most random ways you have discovered a new author?), I have to go back decades (and decades and decades – haha)… what actually got me hooked on reading in the first place. It actually resulted from me being a devout “ParrotHead” and listening to (and reading) everything Jimmy Buffett ever wrote.
The randomness came out of one his more “obscure” songs entitled “Incommunicado” off of his “Coconut Telegraph” album – circa 1981. The first two lines of that song are:

“Travis McGee’s still in Cedar Key
That’s what ol’ John MacDonald said…”

I immediately ordered the first (in the long series) of the Travis McGee novels, and the rest – as they say – is history. I never looked back. I’ve been reading daily ever since.

Dennis: As for this month’s question on discovering new authors, for me it involves looking around in used bookstores and waiting until a cover catches my eye. It’s always been the cover that fuels my blind buys even when the story sounds good. I’ve yet to read the Great Gatsby for this reason. I’ve never found a cover that struck me. Maybe one day.

Sharon: I volunteer at our local library. Shelving books one day, I came across a book by Heather Gudenkauf, Missing Pieces. It sounded good, so instead of shelving it, I checked it out and really enjoyed it. So I will be reading a lot more by her.

Tom: I mainly get book ideas from various web sites I receive emails from. Seems like there is always a book or two mentioned and from authors I have never heard of. Then you start digging into those books and it seems you run across more and more. Still, far too many to keep track of or read. Then there is your site and newsletters which can lead to a never ending list.

Phillip: Hi Graeme, Here’s my A to your Q: A decade ago I was waiting to catch a flight out of Los Angeles International Airport to Washington, DC and I stopped by the little bookstore in the terminal. They had a rather large selection of paperbacks for such a little store and I was pressed for time. So I closed my eyes and picked a book at random. And it turned out to be quite good. The book I chose was Nowhere To Run (Joe Pickett series) by C.J. Box

Ruth: I found my first Mrs. Pollifax, by Dorothy Gilman, at the used bookstore at the Raleigh Airport. (isn’t that the BEST idea ever? a used bookstore at an airport?). They had a “buy so many and get so many free” offer which I did not know about. I bought the two books I wanted and the clerk said I could pick a free book from “that shelf over there”. I had already used up every moment to spare looking at books and was planning a sprint to the gate, so I just grabbed a book. It turned out to be a yellowed, brittled page paperback from the 1960’s called The Unexpected Mrs. Pollifax. Like a small bon bon it went down easy. I did not know it was part of a series until this winter when my online library announced the whole series was available. I am eating (whoops! reading!) one a day. Like Agatha Christie’s they are delightfully dated and entertaining and like a cup of cocoa they are cosy and comfortable. Mrs. Pollifax is a woman in her late 60’s who is a little bored with her life. She ends up working for the CIA during cold war times. Gilman obviously has knowledge about Zen and travelled the world so she could place Mrs. Pollifax in an assortment of locations and perils. have fun!

Mary: I Google a subject like “FBI authors” and look for new authors that way.

Jenny: The most interesting discovery of a new author happened for me back in the early seventies. I may not have even been a teenager yet and was stuck one summer day in this little bitty town in Northern Michigan waiting for my mom to get off work to give me a ride home. I ended up in the library (no big surprise there) They were having a used book sale and I picked up a paperback of a western. I don’t know what possessed me. I’d never read a western or wanted to that I know of. It must have been the cover, ha ha. Anyway, I started reading and couldn’t put it down. I ended up paying my ten cents to buy it and spent the rest of the day reading it. The author, whom I had never heard of at the time, was Louis L’Amour. I spent a good part of that summer stuck at flea markets waiting for my mom to give me a ride home – deja vu. I kept finding Louis L’Amour books for sale and thought that was such a coincidence, not realizing that he had written probably seventy books by then. It turned into something like a three month long scavenger hunt with the reward of books to read. I ended up collecting them all over the years. Never really got into westerns otherwise. Many of his books were made into movies. I wondered why when I was reading some of them I kept hearing John Wayne, lol. So, there is my story of discovering Louis L’Amour.

Lynn: I’m a retired midwife…any title with the word “midwife” in it was worth my time to look…long ago I discovered Chris Bohjalian – obviously “The Midwife” but “Close Eyes, Hold Hands”…O my! good one!…
and more recently I discovered Meg Ellison – “The Road to Nowhere” series…the first is “Book of the Unnamed Midwife” – this is my favorite of the three in the series.

Judy: Random ways of finding new author:

Referral from book-lover friends,
Browsing library
Researching a topic of interest
Browsing books in Barnes & Nobles or other bookstores,
Reading your column and Bookbub suggestions
Any other way that makes an author sound interesting

John: I had traveled to a local independent bookstore to hear a reading by a favorite author of her latest book. Arriving quite early to get a good seat, I had time to wander around examining the new titles, used books, and the like. I a table where books being read by various local book clubs were displayed, and one title caught my eye. The title of the book was Buffalo for the Broken Heart, and the author was Dan O’Brien. I could not imagine what the book was about. A romance? A Western?

I skipped reading the usual laudatory comments. As is my habit, I opened the book to somewhere in the middle, and began to read. I do this because I have found that if a few paragraphs grabs my attention, I will like the entire book. While it is not a foolproof method, it does serve me well. Anyway, I was captivated by the story, bought the book, took it home and began to read what was to me a fascinating story.

Since that time, I have acquired and read almost everything Dan O’Brien has written, have attended several of his lectures and have had several opportunities to talk with him. He is as interesting in person as he is as an author.

Jerry: When I was a stripling, for all my sins, I was a fan of the novels of Pearl S. Buck. One day I caught a glimpse of a new title: The Chinese Patriot. It was only later, away from my dimly lit small town library, I realized I had checked out The Chinese Parrot. Thus began my lifelong appreciation for the work of Earl Derr Biggers and his most famous character: Charlie Chan.

NOTA BENE: I aver it’s possible to acknowledge the racism that permeates the books and still enjoy a well crafted mystery.

Jim: I discovered CJ Box at a Rotary lunch

Every week our Rotary club has a weekly speaker. CJ Box spoke to our club ( ten years ago). I had no idea who he was. After the talk, I picked up one of his books. Been hooked ever since. Great stories, great guy, easy reads. Had no expectations, but love his books

Donna: Great newsletter. I am a huge Friends fan and really enjoyed the party section.

I randomly discovered a new author via Facebook. There was a post for Scott Hunter’s DCI Brendan Moran series. So I thought I’d give it a go. Very good and #7 just came out.

Murder is my genre of choice (George, Sanford, Robinson and the Kellermans). I do try to throw in a classic or scifi (Corey & Weir) every so often. Loved the Jules Verne books. Now rediscovering Jeffrey Archer.

I appreciate the suggestions you provide as they are helping me to ‘branch out’.

Caroline: I relate to Mathematics as you relate to languages. Algebra was my worst subject and I still have nightmares about being attacked by rampaging hordes consisting of the number “2.” So here is my other guilty secret. Not only do I judge books by their covers, for years I would pick library books by how big they were…you know…go big and I’ll take you home with me. The best author I discovered based on “bigness” was Margaret Mitchell. “Gone With the Wind” is still one of my all time favorite reads (to the point where I quote Scarlet or Rhett if the occasion calls for it. Like “I should clean the house, but Tomorrow is Another Day). So, in conclusion, I too do judge books by their cover and sometimes their size but, at least I read!

Thanks for asking that question. I feel better about myself already.

Bill: I was at a library book sale saw a title, picked it up, read a few chapters, bought it, took it home. I finished it the next day. It was by a British author named Jack Higgins and the main character was Sean Dillon. I went out to flea markets, second hand stores, etc. and bought everything I could find that he has written.
I enjoy how he ties some history into his stories.

Barbara: One way I chose a book was by the title. That’s not unusual in itself but it made me curious as to just what this book was all about. It begins with Tono’s high school graduation in a small town in El Salvador. His only dream is to go to America, make money and return to El Salvador to buy a farm, find a wife and settle down to a life of farming (just like his father). The story continues with his life in LA, New York and Washington, DC. A typical life of an immigrant in 1979.

I grew up in Salinas, CA, a coastal town known for its agriculture (Salad Bowl of the World). We had many, many immigrants from Mexico and beyond to help harvest the crops. They were known as wetbacks by most of the town. I read the reviews on Goodreads and most of them had nothing to do with the story in the book, but the reviewers were lamenting the use of the term, wetback. Saying it was a “racial slur” and how they didn’t appreciate it and thought it was terrible. But the story is set in 1979. That term was in use by many people at that time. It was not used by everyone, but everyone had heard it used and knew what it meant. It kind of irked me that the review had nothing about the story but complaints about this word. So I decided I should read the book and find out just what was going on in it. It was a very simple story of his day to day life and his work to earn money to buy his farm. I am still trying to figure out how he was able to save $10,000 from his wages as a hotel bus boy and making chain for a jewelry store. He also sent more than $10,000 home to his father in El Salvador. His favorite meal was a Big Mac, large fries and a Coke.

I don’t really feel that the title really fit the book. Tono crossed the border three times and the second time he ended up swimming across the river, which is how the term originated. This author is a chemical engineer because of his college education, but he never exactly practiced it in life, so he is not a simple minded kind of person. He minored in physics too so it takes some brains to get through that. The only thing I can figure out is that he used this title to help sell his book. It is a break from his usual genre of science fiction but there is a tiny bit of it in the book too. And the thing is that this author is hispanic himself. His name is Marcos Antonio Hernandez.

But to wrap this up, I read this book because several reviewers were fixated on the word, “wetback”. Yes, it is now considered a racial slur and should not be used to describe the people who crossed the river to get to America. But every group of people who came to the US from any country other than England had a racial slur attached to them when they first arrived. To name a few: krauts from Germany, Micks from Ireland, polacks from Poland, and recently camel jockeys from the middle East. My ancestors were Irish and following the potato famine in the 1850s a lot of Irish “micks” came over here to signs in the windows of “Help wanted, Irish need not apply” but I don’t get all butt hurt because of that word used to describe my ancestors. And I don’t understand why people get so out of sorts at these historical facts. People don’t throw these words around in conversation like they used to and most people are more sensitive to their use these days. But you can’t change history.

Alexander: I was visiting one of my patients, in a nursing home. On her nightstand was a book by Lee Child. She said “you MUST read his books, whose hero is a retired Major”. Years later I can vouch for Mr. Child and report that I have read ALL of his books.

Steve: Good morning and Happy New Year

You ask how I find new authors- by reading the blurbs in your newsletter! It is the best way to see what stories are about both by authors I never heard of before and toseh that I have! Thank you for all you do.

Phoenix: Good morning!
As always, I was happy to find your column in my mailbox this morning. It always starts my day, and month, out right.
To answer your question: I suppose going to the library might not be considered random, but that’s how I discovered my favorite author, Margaret Frazer.
I lived in Maine at the time (long story there), and was perusing the books at the library. I hadn’t brought many books with me from California, so I was rapidly becoming a regular. There was a display of Frazer’s “Tales,” so I checked out a couple and was immediately hooked.
Frazer’s tales begin with “The Novice’s Tale,” and continue on for 16 more. I’ve read them all, more than once. About every couple of years I start with the first one and read them all over again. I am totally enthralled by the medieval time period, as well as the life of a nun in those times. Sister Frivesse’s no-nonsense approach to life, her quick wit and razor-sharp mind make for very good reading indeed.
More random finds include another medieval mystery series I enjoy – The Matthew Cordwainer series by Joyce Lionarons. And, while not set in the medieval time period, I also discovered the Nuala series by Harriet Steele, and the Heathcliff Lennox series by Karen Menuhin. I found them all on Amazon. I have Frazer’s books in hard-and-paperback, but the others are all on my Kindle. When my original Kindle died, my daughter gave me a Fire, which I’ve been enjoying very much.
Oh, while this may be slightly off-topic, I discovered a product called “GreatShield Screen Protector” that you can put on the screen of your Fire to make it easier to read in sunlight.

Pat: I suppose there have been many wonderful random discoveries, but one that sticks in my mind is Lisa Lutz and the Spellman series. I was looking for used books at Value Village and there were two or three of the series on the shelf. The covers were intriguing, two covers with cut outs in the top one revealing sections of the one beneath. Always looking for new series, I picked them up. Within a day, I had ordered the rest of the series from Indigo.
The series is about a seriously dysfunctional family of private detectives and is laugh out loud funny. The characters are completely original and likeable, although I think in real life they would drive you crazy.
Happy New Year to all the column readers and here’s to random discoveries.

Martina: Hi Graeme, Happy New Year!
In the old days I would go to the bookstore (usually a used one!) or library and look in the science fiction/fantasy, animal stories, mystery, new releases or romance sections for something that looked interesting and called to me! I did even get some books by the scenes on their covers!
These days since that’s not possible, I generally do subject searches or type in “books like Anne McCaffrey “. I also get them by what the authors I’m reading recommend as well as various newsletters like yours. Sometimes I get them from a magazine, newspaper, and show or movie I’ve seen!
Im actually going to check out The Association– it sounds intriguing and I could always use another author to follow! Congrats on quitting smoking all those years ago and continuing your resolutions! Happy New Year!

Linda: Once again you have piqued my interest in some new reading possibilities. I have already ordered 3 of them. I ordered through Thrift Books which is the best. They have great prices and their service is very speedy. If all of you have not used it, it is definitely worth a try. Brand new books are not available at a bargain price, but you can find a lot of older books and series available. Now for the question of the month. The most random place I ever got a recommendation was in a doctor’s waiting room. I was waiting on a consult for kidney stones and reading one of my usual thrillers when a friend and her husband came in. We got to talking and she saw my book , which lead to our reading habits. She said I must try a book that she loved and knew I would too based on my reading preferences. She was right. Loved the book. Now my other random places are articles in magazines and television talk shows. My favorite place of course is Order of Books newsletter. Reading the mailbag is one of my favorite things. I find so many people are just like me in their reading habits and love of reading. What a pleasure to share with others. In December I read some excellent books. One was “Do Not Harm” by Hurwitz. What a ride . It mixed my tow favorite genres: thriller and medical. I also read “The Warehouse” and found it quite interesting. The premise was so far out, but yet so believable. I loved it. I hope you all have a great 2021. I have hopes for an end to the pandemic and good results with the vaccine. I want to get back to normal. Thank you again for the newsletter. I am a fan

Vonna: I belong to a couple of libraries and use overdrive. I was looking at “collections” and happened on the Linda Castillo books. Very interesting . I enjoy the newsletters and the suggestions. Thanks for writing them

RoxAnn: I do volunteer work in the garden at our local library. I was early for my “this is where every thing is” session because my day hadn’t gone quite right. Sitting on the what to read next display was Jodi Taylor’s One Damm Thing After Another, I thought it appropriate, took it out and haven’t looked back. I highly recommend both Tayler’s St Mary’s series and her Time Police Series.

Marie: Happy New Year!
In 2015, I was returning to Washington, DC, from Boston on the Amtrak Northeast Regional. The lady sitting next to me was reading The Nightingale, by Kristen Hannah. I looked at the lady and thought, “this lady looks like she would be reading a good book.” When I got back to Washington, I went to the bookstore and picked up The Nightingale. It is one of the best books I have ever read. Marie Randolph Wright

Karen: I discovered Lee Child when I was traveling with my husband to a live steam meet. Once or twice around the track and I go read. I finished my book and the next store we went to I looked in desperation for a book to read. “The Affair” sounded pretty good and actually hooked me on Jack Reacher. Best desperate move I have made in a long time!

Judith: Most unusual way I discovered a new author: Wilbur Smith

I was in a bookstore and an older couple came in. The man clearly did not want to be there and kept complaining about how long his wife was taking.
Suddenly, she pointed to a display and said, ” Look, dear, there is a new Wilbur Smith. You know how much you like Wilbur Smith.”
The man walked over and started checking out the book, so after they let I bought it as well, thinking that if this guy who hated book stores liked Wilbur Smith, he must be a good writer.
And, as I discovered, he is.

Kathryn: Hi. The most random way I found a book– really, a series of books– was through reading one of those discounted books emails. “The Thief Taker” was one of them, by CS Quinn. I didn’t know what a thief taker was, but after I learned, I found other books with the same or similar title and I read all of them. CS Quinn’s book became a series of four books, so far anyway.

My favorite book of 2020 was “A Gentleman in Moscow” by Amor Towles. The writing is superb! The “gentleman” is a great character and the premise is that he’s a titled man sentenced to live his whole remaining life in the hotel where he is already a permanent resident. He’s wealthy but isn’t allowed to keep his same digs. Instead, he’s moved to the attic. It’s such a wonderful story.

I enjoy your emails so much. It’s such a nice service that you provide. I know the things we’ve all probably done to ensure we’re reading a series in order. Pre-Internet, it was even more involved!

Judy: Good morning from Wyoming! and Happy New Year.

I volunteer at the local county library and we are fortunate to have a wonderful, constant selection of books.(The hardest part of COVID 2020 was the closure from March through September but I made my way through my own collection and re-read most of them.)

Back to the beginning:
My volunteer time is spent pulling books that have been put on hold by the community. I am particularly fond of mystery books, especially those that develop a character and take you through, in essence, their life. Pulling titles one day I was caught by the title Thrice the Brindled Cat Hath Mew’d by Alan Bradley. I noted it was not the first book in the series as our librarians have a list by most series authors, and promptly checked out the first book, The Golden Tresses of the Dead, and read it quickly. A completely weird and enjoyable heroine, Flavia de Luce came into my life. She is 11 years old, loves chemistry and rides her trusty old bike everywhere. She also solves mysteries. Sort of a strange twist on Encylopedia Brown and Nancy Drew/Hardy Boys.

Jayme: My favorite way to find new books and authors is a daily email from Bookbub. I always read it after I have cleaned out the my other emails as a kind of a treat. Bookbub features good deals from several different vendors of ebooks such as Amazon, Kobo, Barnes and Nobles etc. There 5-9 deals each day and prices range from totally free to a maximum of 3.99 and have a short blurb about each book. When you sign up you select the genres you want to see. Mine include True Crime, Histories and Biographies in non fiction and in fiction historical novels, historical mysteries, science fiction and fantasy, and historical romances. As you can see I have somewhat unusual genre preferences. I have tried other similar email recommendations but never found another one that leads me to more authors and book series than Bookbub. Plus I never have to leave my house a real boon in the pandemic.

I also would like to mention a book I read several months ago that still resonates. The Five: The Untold Lives of the Women Jack the Ripper Killed by Hallie Rubenhold. Some one may have mentioned it but is a book that called out to be written. There have been hundreds of books about the Ripper murders so we knew all the names but this book makes them real people who weren’t just prostitutes. They had families and friends but due to misfortune were homeless with no way out of poverty. Limited opportunities for women made their lives hopeless and the alcohol drank to make their lives bearable made them victims long before they crossed paths with the Ripper. The lives of the five and all their sisters in White Chapel were a product of their times and deserve to be remembered as the human beings they were and not just victims names.

Ginny: Since I am always raiding used book stores and garage sales, I have been known to buy a book just because the title is intriguing or because I like the cover. I bought Jason Fforde books long before I ever read one, because I love his book covers that are made to look like old books. Also, the Joshua Mowll Guild of Specialists series are very attractive books, very serious-looking, so I bought them just based on their looks. I often buy children’s books because I like the cover art. Like you, I too have been known to sneak a peek at what someone else is reading. I get my book club friends to tell me what their clubs are reading. And I pick up a free copy of the Book Page every month at the library.

But maybe the most unusual way I locate books to read is that I look at the quotes on the front and back book jackets of books, and also the quote inside the first few pages of a book, and if something strikes me about the quote, I will look up that author, to see if I might like his/her books. And if a book is mentioned in the text of a book, I will also look up that book to see if I might like it.

Lately I have been deciding what to read by looking at the interesting lists at List Of course, now my TBR list is way too long!

Fran: I stumbled upon an author much like you did. I was at the salon waiting for my appointment and I saw a woman reading a hardcover book. That being unusual, I had to ask her what the book and author were. It was All the Stars in the Heavens by Adriana Trigiani. I read that book and loved it. I then discovered that she had a series set in a small town in Virginia. I immediately order the whole series and devoured them.

Another random way I discovered an author is the manner in which I discovered Ava Miles. I was reading a Carolyn Brown (whom I love) romance and in the novel she mentioned Ava Miles. This answers another recent question in your column. I adore her series and hate to see them end. I’m glad that she is continuing the Merriam family odyssey. The Dare Valley and Dare River series, I have lamented the end of each book and series.

Happy New Year and happy reading.

Donna: I am chiming in on your question for readers this month.

Before I deleted Facebook this year I belonged to two groups that did nothing but talk about books. I found some writers I might never have read. One is William Kent Krueger and his mystery series with Cork O’Connor, a part Irish, part Anishinaabe Indian who is a former sheriff in Aurora, Minnesota. I read the first book Iron Lake and really enjoyed it.

Another author was Ronald H. Balson and his first book Once We Were Brothers. It is the first in the Liam McTaggart and Catherine Lockhart books, both lawyers who take on a case of an elderly gentleman who is convinced that a wealthy philanthropist in Chicago is a former Nazi who killed his family during World War II. It was a book I may have never picked up if someone in that group had not spoken highly about it. There are other books in the series with these two characters but I haven’t ventured beyond the first one as yet.

Janet: In 2016 I came across a new author, part because I just couldn’t find my head with both hands and partly because my friend Ellen is also a book lover. I had go to Mountain Air Ranch to spend four days at my trailer in the mountains, hiking, laying at the pool perfecting my tan, swimming, drinking beer and just socializing with friends. I got there and unpacked for the first weekend at MAR. Did the important stuff first, beer and food in the fridge – all is well. I realized I had left my three books at home and my first thought was I don’t have enough beer to go four days without a book. Enter Ellen, who stopped by to visit and deliver a bag of books from an author she had discovered during the winter, Victoria Laurie. She said the books needed a new home and left them with me. I read four of them that weekend and loved all of them. I added a few more to the bag before I gave the collection to another sun worshiper at MAR in 2017. The collection grows by a book or two a year and this season it will find a new home at MAR, enticing another person into the joy of reading and imagination. We have people reading the series who say they hate to read. Guess it helps that they are fast, easy reads that are both funny and interesting.

Carla: 10 years ago I had a mastectomy, and my sister surprised me with 10 mysteries she had checked out of the library in order to make my recovery less tedious. Included was “A Rule Against Murder”, the 4th book in the Three Pines Mysteries by Louise Penny. I was hooked, and the minute I was allowed to drive I went out and got the first 3 books in the series. To this day, I order prior to publication and usually read the entire thing in one go, even if it means being up all night.

Much love & many thanks for your wonderful newsletter (and all your hard work!),

Barbara B: My answer to your question this month 
is this: In my normal life before Covid-19, my husband and I traveled a lot. Our vacation choices are river cruises and/or beach vacations. We go to Aruba for 3 weeks in December and January. When on a beach if I see someone completely immersed in a book, I make note of the title and author. This is how I found Harlan Coben, Ken Follett and Jeffrey Archer for example. On the cruises there’s time to relax and read in the lounge and watch for people reading like crazy. So that’s how I find new book

Barbara M: I use several methods to find new authors. I don’t purchase many novels any longer as I live on a fixed income, but use the local libraries to meed my needs. I use several of their options – Prospcetor and World Cat to request if the library does not own a copy.

To find new authors I review the options presented from the library when I do a search on a specific book title. One local library also has a service, Wowbrary – published twice a month. It lists all of the new items that library will be purchasing for their various collections. I can review a selection on Amazon and decide if it might be of interest and then put the item on hold. They frequently list new publications several months into the future allowing me to build my list.
I also read the cover reviews of books written by authors that site a specific book they have written. I can then go to Amazon and read more about that book selection and the author. I read the sections presented by Amazon, ‘Customers who bought this item’ and ‘Products releated to this item’. I also use your site ‘Order of Books’ and ‘Book Series in Order’ as resources.

I don’t listens as often to audio books as I did when I was still commuting. I really do love to hold a book in my hands. However, I have frequently gotten both the hardcover and the audio at the same time, allowing me to continue reading when my eyes tell me “enough already!!!”

Order of Books » Newsletter » Reader Mailbag: Random Ways You Stumbled Upon A New Author

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