Tracking Down Books or Stories That Your Favorite Authors Read


Well-Known Member
Aug 21, 2010
Sometimes we might not know much about what a given favorite author reads, but sometimes we do, thanks to the author's reviews, articles, book acknowledgments, published letters, speeches or interviews, and so on.

Have remarks of a favorite author spurred you to seek out and read other books? If so, what are some examples?

I'm thinking especially of books (or short stories) that you probably wouldn't have read if not for such remarks. Thus, suppose that you read an interview with a current sf author who mentioned reading Asimov's The Caves of Steel as a youngster. You got hold of Caves and read it. But you'd have been likely to get hold of Caves anyway because you've read some Asimov and liked what you read and because Caves is a highly visible sf classic. I'm not really thinking of this type of situation for this thread. Nor am I thinking of stories in anthologies that got you interested in reading more by certain authors, or references in critical books on favorite authors that led you to new reading. Thus, not appropriate for this thread would be my discovery of the novels of Phyllis Paul, about whom I learned by reading a study of Charles Williams by Glen Cavaliero.

J. D. Worthington, who used to post at Chrons frequently, set himself to read every book mentioned in Lovecraft's Supernatural Horror in Literature treatise, and might have completed the project, or nearly, by the time he stopped writing here. I've gotten hold of books mentioned by J. R. R. Tolkien or C. S. Lewis, and in a number of instances enjoyed works that I probably would not have read, or perhaps even heard of, otherwise, by seeing references in the published letters, etc., of Tolkien or Lewis.

So, for example, there's Sterling Lanier's The War for the Lot.


This is a children's novel about a boy who becomes able to communicate with animals living in a wooded area, and to help them in their eventual war against an army of dump rats ruled by a ghastly rat king. Lanier sent a copy to Tolkien, who read it and was impressed. I don't think I'd ever heard of it till I learned of the Tolkien connection. I secured an interlibrary loan copy and read it. It was rather good.

Source for Tolkien’s remarks to Lanier: Archive of Correspondence by J. R. R. TOLKIEN on Between the Covers

Phyllis Elinor Sandeman sent C. S. Lewis a copy of Treasure on Earth, an account of Christmas 1906 at her family's great Cheshire country house of Lyme Park, which when Sandeman's book was published had recently been turned over to the National Trust. The small book was an interesting account of a bygone way of life. I'm glad to have read it and will probably read it again one of these days. It was reissued recently.

A Country House Christmas: Treasure on Earth eBook: Phyllis Elinor Sandeman: Kindle Store

So there are two examples of the kind of thing I have in mind for this thread. I hope we'll see some responses along the same lines.
I did chase down some of HP Lovecraft's influences, but found them tepid by comparison. I know we have Arthur Machen fans here but I could never warm to the writings I read.

David Gemmell said he was influenced by Louis L'Amour's Westerns, so I took a chance and borrowed a collection of shorts from the Kindle lending library. After a weak start, it really opened up and I finished pleased that I'd read it, and found a new respect for the versatility of the Western as a format.
I worked my way through quite a few of the books and films recommended by Stephen King in Danse Macabre and it was an interesting experience. Overall, I found them to be pretty good, although a few were weaker than I'd expected (Ghost Story) or I just didn't see what the fuss was about (The Haunting of Hill House). But there were some gems there, too: the SF of Ira Levin, minor films like Phase IV and Quartermass, and my favourite of all, The House Next Door by Anne Rivers Siddons.

Following Lovecraft's recommendations, I did once read a book by Algernon Blackwood, but it did indeed seem tepid by comparison. A friend of mine used to have a paperback anthology based around the stories mentioned in Supernatural Horror in Literature. I read a few stories, but they weren't anywhere near as accomplished as Lovecraft (or M.R. James, for that matter).

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