Debbie's World of Books
My book reviews, book news & random rants

One and Done or Give an Author a Second Chance?

August 4th, 2009 by Debbie's World of Books

A few weeks ago someone in my online book club asked the question “one and done?” meaning if the first book you read from an author is not to your liking do you give them a second chance?

I was surprised by how many people did say there were authors that they passed on if the first book they read was not good.  Maybe it’s because of my bad memory but there aren’t many authors I would say I wouldn’t pick up another book by them even after a negative experience.  In fact, I can think of two authors off hand who I did not like the first time around.  Both times I ended up picking up a second book by them and enjoying that second book.

The first author was Raymond Khoury.  I bought his book The Last Templar:


I just could not get into it and never finished it.  Additional proof of my bad memory was I bought it a second time forgetting I already bought it once and still didn’t like it the second time I tired reading it (this was one of the reasons I started blogging to track what I read).   So you would think after that I would not have picked up any of his other books but I did end up buying Sanctuary (again not realizing it was by the same author as The Last Templar):


I ended up enjoying this book so I was glad my experience with The Last Templar didn’t stop me from reading this one.

The second author I am grateful I gave a second chance is Geraldine Brooks.  I first read her book The Year of Wonders:


And let me say despite all the raving reviews I read of it I couldn’t stand it.  When I was offered the chance to review People of the Book I was more than a little hesitant to review it:


The book blurb was enough for me to give Brooks another try and sure enough I really enjoyed this book.

On the other hand there was my experience with Jodi Picoult.  I read My Sister’s Keeper several years ago and loved it.  I cried so much at the end.  I was so excited when I picked up another Picoult book, The Tenth Circle, expecting another great story.  I hate to say it but I thought the book was horrible!



So in the end I’m not sure what is really the ideal number of chances to give an author.  What about you?  Will you read a second book by an author you did not enjoy the first time around?  What about if you read one good book and one bad book by an author?  Do you read a tie breaker book?

Posted in Books

9 Responses

  1. Amanda

    I will give an author another chance if another of their books sounds interesting to me, and if the reason I rejected the first one had to do with plot, not writing style. If the writing itself is downright bad, I probably won’t bother again. Same thing if the author is offensive or presents offensive viewpoints to me, or if the material they usually write about is not stuff I normally read. However, I will give an author a chance if it’s just a book, well written and unoffensive, that I didn’t enjoy, assuming they produce a book that sounds interesting. I suppose, in short, I’d say it depends on the situation.

    (Sorry, that was a bit convoluted, I suppose.)

  2. Tricia

    Good question! I think that readers should always give authors second chances if the plot interests them and if they are not formulaic. For instance, I loved Michael Ondaatje’s In the Skin of a Lion, liked The English Patient, didn’t like Anil’s Ghost and couldn’t stand Divisadero. But when Ondaatje comes out with another book, I’ll be sure to check it out, and if it doesn’t “feel” like the way Divisadero was written, I’ll be thrilled to give it a chance.

    On the other hand, I read Jodi Piccoult and I find her very formulaic – I admit I loved the first one I read by her (I forget which one, they all blend in) – but the second one was much like the first and the third much like the second and then I had a strong feeling Piccoult would always copy herself…so why bother reading more of the same?

    Also, I am a firm believer that if you aren’t jiving with a novel one day you may be in heaven the next – that’s just the way life is! :)

  3. Yan

    60% no if the first book I’ve read was a disaster. Of course I may go back if the reviews/summary sounds interesting. But most likely from the library.

    On the other hand if I enjoyed their first book, second book is a dud, I’m more inclined to pick up their 3rd book hoping that I’ll have the same WOW factor as the first.

  4. Lisa

    I read the same Khoury. My parents had read it and both of them liked it. I had to force myself through it but never, never liked it. I haven’t gone back to him yet but I won’t rule him out if my parents recommend it again. I did the same thing as you with Geraldine Brooks but my first Brooks book was “March.” I liked the writing, but did not like the story at all. But “People of the Book” really piqued my interest so I read it. And loved it. So I guess I’d have to say I’d give most writers two chances. Except Belva Plain. My mom gave me one of her books once and it was so badly written I gave it up after 20 pages.

  5. PamNation

    For me it depends on the writing. If the quality is good, then I’ll give authors the benefit of the doubt. A plot and it’s characters might just not have been for me. However if the writing isn’t any better than I can do, then I won’t look at them again.

  6. dsuzuki

    I agree, if the writing style is bad that’s it for me. I have a harder time when it’s the story that doesn’t grab me. Like the templar story line is something that normally grabs me.

  7. Care

    Great question! I have only given up once on an author after one (horrid) book. But I have so many books I want to read that I rarely read a second book by an author! I have given up on a novelist after 3 books and they were good but not my taste.

  8. Memory

    I’ll usually give an author at least one more chance, but doing so may not be a priority. I can only think of one author who I’ve sworn off forever after a mere hundred pages of prose. The story seemed interesting, but I found her style almost unintelligible. It was like wading through molasses.

  9. dsuzuki

    Yan-I’m like you too. If I liked the first, disliked the second, I will give them a 3rd try.
    Care-that’s true about there be so many good books out there.
    Memory-curious who that author was :)

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