I recently discovered Harlan Coben.
Funny, when you consider how much I like to read. I should have discovered him when his first book came out. I am one of those people who are lost to the outside world when we’re reading. I call it being “in the book”. When I’m in the book I don’t see, hear or smell. I will let you imagine how many meals I’ve condemned to ashes while happily “in the book”.
In those days I fed myself a steady diet of Sidney Sheldon, Danielle Steel, John Grisham, Jackie Collins and every other popular writer of the 1990’s. I also read Mills and Boon, Harlequin and every other romance publication. The thing is I just loved to read. I would read anything. I read Newsweek, Time Magazine, toothpaste wrappers, everything and I was never satisfied.
In the last few years though I grew disillusioned with all the popular fiction that kept on coming out of publishers houses. The sight of another Nora Roberts book, with the same storyline, only with different characters would fill me with derision again and again, Danielle Steel got so sentimental it actually hurt to read her books, even Jackie Collins lost her edge (compare how all the people we don’t like conveniently die or go out of the way in say ‘American Star’ to the sharp edgy decadent ride of ‘Chances’)
I discovered British Chick lit, I read Bridget Jones diary, fell in love with Wendy Holden, was out there with Minty Malone and couldn’t wait for Lucy Sullivan to get married. While I engrossed myself in these predictable romances, I also started reading the classics again, I read Vanity Fair and read and reread Pride and Prejudice, and Jane Eyre. I made up my mind to totally ignore all popular, commercial type fiction and this I did without regret.
Until Harlan Coben.
I read my first Harlan Coben about eight weeks ago towards the end of last year, since then I have read four others. I am currently reading one and even as I type my fingers are itching to get back to the book (I would have, just that I’m in the office).
I know Harlan Coben is not perfect, his lead character is always almost the same man, a professional, in his thirties or early forties, with the same values and a belief in real love. These men are probably the different variations of Coben himself. But does he take you for a ride!
I guess it doesn’t pay to be too rigid about what one reads, though I know I’ll never read any Nora Roberts novel written after 1995. I’m reading some popular fiction again. I read ‘the girl with the dragon tattoo’ and right now I have the other two books by Stieg Larsson safely in my drawer waiting to be read.
PS the best book I read last year though was ‘Water for Elephants’ by Sara Gruen.