Do You Have Divisions of Authors?

I have been back in Derbyshire visiting my Gran and also visiting my old childhood haunts this past weekend. Gran was in good form, despite having had a nasty fall last week, and can now almost lift her foot (whilst nearly going blue in the face with effort bless her) and can move her left thumb and slightly squeeze her hand so it’s all good. She can also read again and this of course led to talking about books, which brought up the subject of divisions of authors. (I thought I would pop a picture of her bookshelves here that I took this weekend as a bit of book porn and because I don’t like posts without pictures… oh dear.)

Gran’s Bursting Bookshelves

I have been trying to recollect the exact way this conversation came up but I know it came down to Gran wanting to know if I had read Anita Shreve.  I mentioned that I hadn’t, as I had mistakenly thought that (from the covers) she was chick-lit, but had recently bought ‘The Weight of Water’ as my mum had lots on her shelves and then Kim of Reading Matters reviewed her and reminded me she too was a big fan. At the moment I mentioned chick-lit my Gran frowned and said ‘I wouldn’t say that, I would say she is more a second division author…’

I have never heard of this expression before, or even given the ideas of divisions of authors so there was an odd silence afterward whilst I was getting my head around it. She then quoted Somerset Maugham who apparently said something about this, of course I have now completely the quote, but I think I can paraphrase by saying he always aimed for first division but knew he would remain in second – which I think a lot of people would disagree with.

I do find the idea of an author division league, oddly like football which I never thought I would mention on this blog, intriguing even if I don’t quite agree with it. Would it be a case of authors going from first to second if they wrote a dud one etc? I may possibly have over thought this, I was wondering how it would work with debut novelists would they have to work their way up no matter how good their debut novel?

I have been thinking of having a Hall of Fame for my very favourite authors on this blog, maybe its time to pull my finger out and do it! What do you think? Do you have divisions of authors? How do you categorise the people you read, is it a case of favourites, ones I like and the ones that I don’t? I would be interested to know and will report back to Gran (who I will grill a little more on this too) when I next visit her.

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14 Comments

Filed under Book Thoughts, Random Savidgeness

14 responses to “Do You Have Divisions of Authors?

  1. Erika

    I’ve never really thought to divide my authors into divisions, nor do I think it happens naturally for me. I, of course, have favorites, but beyond that, it’s more like ‘read again’ or ‘don’t read again.’ If anything has divisions, it’s the actual genre. For me, chick lit would be division three, fantasy novels division one and a half, classics (in general) would be division one along with dystopians, and so forth. It’s an interesting concept though!

    • I am not sure if I have divisions in a league sense. I mean I can only imagine how cross some people would be if I put Daphne Du Maurier in the same league as Tess Gerritsen (or vice versa) or Margaret Atwood and M.C. Beaton and yet these are some of the authors I return to the most.

  2. Louise

    Nothing at all to do with what you’re asking, but I know you like pictures with posts, and I thought I would send you this link. ( A friend of mine sent me this link, it’s been doing the rounds ) There’s a load of crap going on in the bookish community at the moment, and one of these things is the use of pictures in posts…and how people are being sued!

    The use of any picture that you don’t have a license for or don’t have any sort of permission to use is illegal..this does include the use of google images, and whatnot.. I have taken down all my facebook pics that don’t belong to me and anything that’s linked to my twitter account. I’ve been sharing this info with blogs that I read regualry.

    http://www.roniloren.com/blog/2012/7/20/bloggers-beware-you-can-get-sued-for-using-pics-on-your-blog.html

  3. MJ

    I guess I do divide authors into divisions, although I never consciously thought about it. There’s the top tier (Hemingway, Toni Morrison), then the second string (Barbara Kingsolver, Margaret Atwood), then everybody else. I try to focus on the top two levels, and not reread any one I like less than that. I still try new authors, of course, in the hopes that I find someone else worthy of working into rotation.

    • I find it interesting that Atwood only makes it into your second division, I think she would be in my top one probably. Ooh I need to get thinking about this all over again.

  4. sharkell

    Interesting thought about divisional authors, I’d not really considered it that way but it does make sense. I have favourtie authors (Anita Shreve, Geraldine Brooks), definitely read again authors (Ian McEwan, Marcus Zusak), try one more authors (Gillian Mears, Peter Carey, Margaret Atwood), and don’t read again authors (AD Miller, Mary Wesley, although I will probably read her autobiography). On the topic of Anita Shreve I think you would be best starting out with All He Ever Wanted or, if you can’t get your hands on that one, The Pilot’s Wife or Resistance. I liked The Weight of Water but didn’t think it was her best book.

    • I actually really like the way that you have divided these authors, I might have those same authors in different divisions myself but I like the system. I wonder if we all do this subconciously?

  5. Your Gran looks like my kinda gal with her bookshelves! Glad to hear she is better.
    As for divisions for writers – like most of the comments above, I don’t think I am conscious of doing it, but subconsciously I must be, because there are some authors that I will buy or read without even thinking about it – the name is enough for me (First Division). There are the ones that I treasure and take me with me through multiple international relocations, because I cannot live without them on my bookshelves (Premier League?). And then there are the ones ‘give them a try’, if the blurb and the cover look interesting, or if someone else recommends them (Second Division). And then there are the ones that I will avoid unless they are written by friends who want an honest opinion (school football teams?).

    • Gran is definitely getting there but she isn’t where she would like to be, still no use of her left leg and while her left hand is working and she can lift it from her elbow above that the arms still not working. Progress though.

      It does seem this division thing is rather subconcious indeed.

  6. Louise Trolle

    For me an author belongs in 1st division, if their work is truly original in tone/execution, if it makes me think about life etc in a new way and is well written. I think I can acknowledge these qualities – even in a book I don’t like because of my individual tastes.

    I recently finished The Narrow Corner by W. Somerset Maugham :-) And this 80 y old book, has had me thinking about human relationships and how you are affected by other people’s perceptions all week. I’d definetly rate him first division.

    Simon – maybe an author can have books in several different divisions? You’d of course have to decide, if he/she’s ranked by the avarage or by the highest scoring book.

  7. I think in terms of major writers, major minors, and minor majors. it is only moderately helpful. I guess I expect to learn something about both life and literature from major writers, to learn about life and maybe literature from minor majors, and probably hardly anything (but possibly be ‘merely’ entertained) from the major minors though I expect them to do something (characterisation, plot, whatever) well. I might read a major writer even if I don’t enjoy him/her (on the grounds they are probably good for me) but the other categories have to have some enjoyment factor. I can read rubbish if it has some wit and verve in amongst the clunky bits.

    Anita Shreve I’m afraid I thought gut wrenchingly awful: wince inducing plot, poor characterisation and I didn’t think much of the writing either. Not good enough for second division for me, and without the entertainment value of chicklit.

    • You see your thoughts on Anita Shreve having read her are rather what I think prior to reading her. I will have to try her soon to see which side of the fence I sit on.

      I like a bit of a rubbish read, well what others might deem rubbish, now and again, nowt wrong with that.

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