It’s discussion time! And brace yourselves, for this is going to be long one.
The idea for this post came when I had a particular question on my mind: What makes the ultimate perfect book? Away from thinking about my generic reading preferences, I decided to think about particular authors and which of their individual techniques – such as writing style or plot development etc – could be hypothetically mashed together to create the book that would represent my absolute ideal reading experience.
But then I realised that there were perhaps too many variables, and that it is arguably impossible to visualise a book that contains an element of just about everything. So instead, I have decided to write a list of 13 bookish categories, and my favourite authors for each one. In other words, if I had to choose an author to write a certain aspect of what would be my perfect book, these are the ones I would go for!
Without any further ado, let’s get on to the list…
Alix E. Harrow has written two books that rank among my favourites, and a large factor in that has been her writing style. It is intelligent, imaginative, and thoroughly captivating, with an academic quality that I absolutely love.
Having read all three historical fiction novels by Stacey Halls, I have to say that I am just in love with the way she writes. It sets the scene beautifully, but above all it is so incredibly engaging in a way that makes it seem effortless, and at the same time easy to read.
The choice of Chloe Gong is based on just one book, but the plot of These Violent Delights was truly everything I could possibly have wanted and more. It is absolutely thrilling from start to finish, with relentless action that did total justice to the equally amazing characters and setting.
Stuart Turton writes mysteries that are exceedingly complex, and you just have to admire the detail with which he unravels them. It is a lot of fun to try and work them out based on the most subtle of clues, and in both novels so far I have been suitably enthralled by the outcome.
Character development rarely gets better than in the Six Of Crows duology, so Leigh Bardugo was an obvious choice for this category. The Dregs are all magnificent, we learn so much about them and their uniqueness is what makes us all love them. The characters in the Shadow And Bone series also deserve a special mention.
When I read Daisy Jones And The Six, I could see that Taylor Jenkins Reid had a unique ability to write unbelievably authentic characters, which enabled it to come across as a real work of non-fiction.
There is mystery and emotion and outstanding character development throughout Where The Crawdads Sing, but the setting of the North Carolina marshlands is synonymous with it. Delia Owens makes this exploration of nature front and centre of the novel.
I love books that are set in Gothic mansions, estates, or stately homes, and Daphne Du Maurier more or less pioneered the sub-genre with Rebecca. It was atmospheric and the lingering presence of the title character was forever discernible.
Bridget Collins has set her adult novels in abstract worlds that are full of imaginative concepts, and the atmosphere she manages to create pulsates through her writing. The plot may sometimes be hit and miss, but the atmosphere is always there in spades.
In his Six Stories series that is based around a fictional true crime podcast, Matt Wesolowski makes you feel like you are physically at the settings that are being described, such is the realism of it and the creepy paranormal vibes.
Lisa Jewell is excellent at combining well developed characters with an entertaining plot that keeps ticking over, and she often achieves that with multiple POVs. They are mostly written in the third person, and I really enjoy the way she writes them.
Multiple POVs do not get much better than in One Of Us Is Lying, as we switch repeatedly between the four main characters and more things are gradually revealed about them in a brilliant mystery. Karen M. McManus has continued with the same formula in her subsequent books.
Of all the authors I have read, nobody writes dual timelines better than Jessie Burton. She has an ability to write them as though they are completely different in terms of atmosphere and tone, but they are inextricably connected as part of the same compelling narrative.
Diversity and Representation
Literature does not get much more diverse than in The Gilded Wolves! Roshani Chokshi has created such an amazing group of characters within her beautifully woven historical settings, in terms of race, sexuality, and disability representation.
Elizabeth Acevedo is one of my favourite authors, and I love the uniquely powerful yet uplifting stories she writes. Told with the help of various innovative techniques, they are entertaining while amounting to a profound exploration of diverse cultures.
I am not a person who likes to seek out much humour (lol), but Richard Osman made me laugh out loud on several occasions while I read The Thursday Murder Club. His characters are endearing, and quite often hilarious!
A Good Girl’s Guide To Murder is incredible in just about every respect, and a big part of that is the mixed media that we see scattered throughout the series. Holly Jackson imbues them with such personality, as well as an ability to make the reader even more obsessed with the mystery!
Meanwhile, Cara Hunter is the queen of mixed media. Her DI Adam Fawley crime series uses an ever-increasing list of items, such as newspaper articles, interview transcripts, social media feeds, and diagrams. It sets her books apart from others in the genre.
For many thriller readers, the twist that Clare Mackintosh manages to pull off in I Let You Go is truly infamous. It comes at about the halfway stage, and completely changes the complexion of the book. I read it nearly five years ago, and not many twists have come close ever since.
The only book I have read by Steve Cavanagh is Thirteen. All you have to do is read the tagline on the cover to know that it has a brilliantly tantalising concept, and the execution of the twist at the end is top drawer. I was in shock for some time afterwards!
I was interested in Greek myth before, but Madeline Miller has made me fall in love with it courtesy of her supremely powerful retellings. She tells the stories so eloquently, but also makes them accessible to casual readers.
One of the many things I loved about the Winternight trilogy is how Katherine Arden wove creatures from Russian folk tales and mythology into the plot and gave them such a prominent role. It made it feel even more mystical.
In both the books I have read by Laura Purcell, she has written endings that have left me momentarily speechless. There is an element of allowing the reader to draw their own conclusion which can sometimes be frustrating, but in this case it is brilliant and intensely thought-provoking.
What do you think of the authors I have chosen for each category? What would your choices be? Let me know in the comments!
Happy reading 🙂