Top 5 Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by Bionic Bookworm. This week’s is most read authors! If I do this by sheer number of books, it’s gonna be kind of embarrassing, but perhaps that’s the point. This ended up being a stroll down memory lane for me, a look into the authors who were quite formative for me as a young adult.
Honorable Mention: N.K. Jemisin (8)
I discovered Jemisin almost by chance when stumbling through fantasy recommendations one day. I read the first book in the Inheritance Trilogy but did not continue for some reason. Then Jemisin started blowing up (this was even before The Fifth Season was published) so I went back and decided to keep reading. I liked the second book a bit less and hated the third (the only one of Jemisin’s books I adamantly do not like). Then I read the Dreamblood Duology, a spectacular work of Egyptian-inspired fantasy which is actually my favorite writing of hers. And of course, her magnum opus to date, the twice-Hugo Award winning Fifth Season.
5. Anne Rice (8-10)
This is where things may start to get a little embarrassing. As you will soon realize, I was absolutely obsessed with vampires and all things supernatural when I was a teen. I started reading Anne Rice at eleven years old, which is what happens when no one supervises your reading choices. I definitely would not give these books to an eleven year old, or even a young teen, to be honest. Part of the reason I’m not sure how many books I read is that at some point they all blurred together, a hazy vision of blood and sex and strangeness that made very little sense to me as a youngster. I barely understood most of what I was reading, but there were vampires, so I kept reading anyway.
4. Amelia Atwater-Rhodes (9)
I worshiped Amelia when I was a teen. Incredibly, she published her first novel at fourteen freaking years old! And it’s actually a decent, mature read about vampires! But Amelia doesn’t only write vampires; for me, her claim to fame is her Kiesha’ra series, about shapeshifting humanoids who have been at war for decades. Not only was this series rich in worldbuilding and characterization, it also introduced me to the concept of same-sex attraction and featured the first f/f romance I had ever seen. Needless to say, she was very formative for me (Amelia herself is a lesbian and I remember being fascinated with that as a kid, which makes sense to me now). I’ve been meaning to pick up some of her newer works!
3. Cate Tiernan (17)
I wasn’t even sure if I should include Tiernan; the only reason I’ve read so much of her is because the Sweep series is made up of fourteen teeny tiny novels coming in at less than 200 pages each! However, if we’re talking formative authors (which…I’m not sure that we are but I guess this is what this turned into) then I have to mention her. The Sweep series changed me as a person. It’s about a young girl coming into her powers of witchcraft. Tiernan seamlessly blends real-world religion Wicca with her own fantasy version. I remember being fifteen and so damn disappointed when I realized that Wicca as an organized faith only stretched back into the ’60s! I still have the Sweep series on my shelf and every now and then I re-read it. It brings me so much joy.
2. Darren Shan (22)
Clocking in at #2 is Darren Shan, of all people, famous for his Cirque du Freak series about vampires (are you seeing the pattern?). But the more formative for me was his second series, the Demonata, about a world adjacent to ours that holds bloodthirsty demons who are fighting to come into our world and kill us all. I read these books during my emo phase, when I was really into things being as gory and bloody as possible. And let me tell you, these books are hella gory.
1. V.C. Andrews (28-??)
Oh, boy. This one is really embarrassing, but talk about formative! I started Andrews’ work with her Flowers in the Attic series, infamous for its many incestuous relationships, including the central one between brother and sister. This is probably where my obsession incest ships began, to tell you the truth. Known for combining Gothic horror and family saga, V.C. Andrews is an interesting case because the actual Cleo Virginia Andrews died in 1986, in the midst of writing her second major series. However, her books were so successful and drew in so much cash that her estate hired a ghost writer by the name of Andrew Niederman to continue writing in her name. There is a noticeable change in quality between Anrews and Niederman. All the books are addictive trash, but I actually highly recommend the Dollanganger/Flowers in the Attic series just for how utterly disturbing it is. Andrews is another one I started reading very young, so I don’t remember how much of her work I read, but I definitely had a lengthy Andrews phase and I remember committing to reading everything under her name.