Rachel Neumeier

Fantasy and Young Adult Fantasy Author

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Authors who take up the most shelf space

So, via twitter, I noticed this post at Random Musings: Authors I own the most books from. I’m sure . . . pretty sure . . . I’ve posted a similar list before, but my reactions to Brandy’s list were threefold:

a) 18 books by CS Lewis, wow. (I think I have only two of his.)

b) Diana Wynne Jones, of course!

c) Authors can actually be on your list when you own fewer than ten books by them?

The thing is, I am the kind of reader who is an author’s best friend: a collector. Once I fall in love with an author’s work, I pick up everything by them even if I don’t expect to get around to reading the entire backlist all that soon. It is impossible for any author to be a “most shelf space” author for me with fewer than twenty titles. In fact, here are the twelve authors who have at least 20 books on my shelves (including virtual shelves, but all but one of these I own mostly in paper):

1. Dorothy Dunnett — 20. I own her Lymond series, her Niccolo series, and all her mysteries.

2. Terry Pratchett — 20, again. I have a lot of his as audio books, including most of the Vimes books and all of Tiffany series. They work better for me as audio than any other author I’ve tried in that form.

3. Martha Wells — 21. She is the only author on this list that I own mostly in ebook form. I have all of hers except the Raksura trilogy as ebooks. This is because I only discovered her work after I got a Kindle. Everyone else on this list, I’ve been reading for a lot longer.

4. Sharon Shinn — 24. I have those I prefer and those I like less, but basically I pick up anything Sharon Shinn writes. Jeweled Fire is one of my most-anticipated titles for this fall.

5. Steven Brust — 24. All those Vlad Taltos books add up, and I grab each one the moment it’s out, but I have most of his other books too, obviously.

6. Orson Scott Card — 25. In fact, I need to pick up the third Pathfinder book one of these days. Card seems to me to be rather uneven, but I really love some of his books. Enchantment is one of his recent titles that I thought was really good.

7. Rumer Godden — 26. This is the only literary author I have a lot by. She is such a wonderful writer. In This House of Brede is one of the most beautiful books I’ve ever read. I have quite a few of hers I haven’t read, though, because I didn’t want to read them all at once and run out, and because for me they’re better read one at a time. I need to bring one of hers upstairs so I will read it soon.

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8. Diana Wynne Jones — 27. I think I’m getting pretty close to having all of hers, but some I have only read once and need to read again. Hexwood comes to mind.

9. Patricia McKillip — 27. I got rid of Solstice Wood, but basically anything she writes is likely to become an instant favorite of mine.

10. Ngaio Marsh — 29. My mother loves some of the older mystery authors and got me reading Marsh.

11. Barbara Hambly — 36. It’s such a high number because I really like most of her older fantasy AND her current mysteries and urban fantasy, plus I am counting the “Barbara Hamilton” historical mysteries. Every now and then she writes a book that doesn’t work for me at all, but mostly she’s one of my favorite authors.

12. And now . . . with twice as many books as any other author . . . *Drumroll* . . . CJ Cherryh — 70 titles. Wow. And that’s without the Rusalka trilogy, which I gave away. I am counting the shared-world Marovingen Nights collections, though.

So. Any of you have more than twenty books by a single author? Who?

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20 Comments Authors who take up the most shelf space

  1. Elaine T

    Match you on Dunnett unless I count my illegal copy of her short story about rock climbers (and I really don’t like the mysteries, but like you am a completist collector).
    Have everything CJC wrote, including the LOIS & CLarke book.
    29 Mckillips, which I think is everything and numerous anthologies bought solely for the McKillip entry.
    DW Jones I think 39 but may have lost count – basically everything except that one first novel, and the comet novella.

    Pratchett 43 I think – they’re scattered between harcover, paperback, and the Teen’s room. All of Discworld, (even SHEPHERD’S CROWN) and the Johnnies, and a couple stray others.

    Janny Wurts takes a lot of shelf space but mostly because her WARS series is made up of doorstops. I was very glad when the more recent offerings appeared on the Kindle – 18 count.
    Oh, Michelle Sagara West: 31.
    Assorted editions of Tolkien adding up to over 20 including HoME. I love the 1 volume 1″ thick edition.
    That’s all more or less off the top of my head and glancing at shelves.

  2. SarahZ

    How are comics & children’s books & things counted? That would really change my Neil Gaiman count.

    Regarding Orson Scott Card, I used to be a big fan, and I liked Enchantment, but his homophobia & political views have colored his work too much for me. It’s interesting how in some cases it’s easier to separate the artist from the art, and in other cases I just can’t.

  3. Pamela

    Patricia McKillip, 20
    Michelle Sagara West, 30
    Patricia Briggs, 21
    Tanya Huff, 21
    Seanan McGuire/Mira Grant, 20
    Sherwood Smith, 34
    Lindsay Buroker, 23
    Patricia Wrede, 23

    And at least thirty each of:
    Diana Wynne Jones
    Agatha Christie
    Mercedes Lackey
    Tamora Pierce

    I’m a bit surprised by how much of my library hits between the 11 to 19 mark.

  4. SarahZ

    Patricia Briggs – 22
    Tamora Pierce – 27
    Terry Pratchett – 35
    Mercedes Lackey – 26
    Charles de Lint – 25
    Diana Wynne Jones – 21
    Kelley Armstrong – 20
    Neil Gaiman – 24? Not sure how to count those giant Sandman collectors editions
    Bill Willingham – 1 book, about 25 trade paperback comics

    And, a lot of authors who just haven’t written enough yet to get past the 20 book mark yet :)

  5. Rachel

    SarahZ, I know a lot of my favorite writers will eventually get past the 20 book mark, barring disaster. Pamela, yes, I have an awful lot of authors in the 11-19 categories, too.

    Sarah, I have never actually read anything at all by Charles de Lint, can you believe that? I have four of his on my TBR pile because I know so many people who love his work. I figure four books should be plenty to let me know whether I should go into collect-entire-backlist mode. Also, good point about the graphic novels question, because I have all the Sandman graphic novels, too, but also don’t know how to count them.

    I try not to pay attention the personal beliefs of authors, and Card is (usually) a good enough writer that if he puts Messages in his fiction, it doesn’t whap the reader over the head. Or at least not for me. It’s like actors, though. I can hardly watch anything with Tom Cruise in it because I’m all like, Scientology, really? and it’s hard to put that aside. I’d rather keep my eye off the author and take the work on its own if possible.

    I have 18 books by Patricia Briggs, about 15 by Tamora Pierce, 14 by Lindsay Boruker, about 10 by Sherwood Smith, 12 by Patricia Wrede — Pamela, I didn’t know she’d written so many, and I guess I should look into that — I must admit that I never got into Agatha Christie.

    I keep meaning to read more by Michelle Sagara West. Eventually I will.

    Elaine, that sounds like a completest collection of Tolkien for sure. I have exactly one edition of TLotR, and that’s it.

  6. Pamela

    This listing is good for discovering gaps. I have 19 books by Martha Wells, so I’m off to find out what’s missing.

  7. SarahZ

    I love de Lint’s mix of mythologies from different cultures (mostly Celtic and First Peoples), and he’s a great storyteller. I think the best starting place for him would be one of the early Newford short story collections. I think Dreams Underfoot is the first one. If you got into seriously collecting him, it’d be a big undertaking – he does so many limited release, small press things.

    Card is actually the only author whose personal life caused me to stop liking his professional work. It was just one of those things where, when I became aware of his issues, I started to notice them in his work more, and I stopped enjoying his books as much.

    It’s hard to avoid Scientology in Hollywood, since it’s so pervasive. I totally get the Tom Cruise thing, though.
    Another one for me is Woody Allen. I get skeeved out every time I see a trailer for a new movie of his – they’re always about a young woman falling for an older, neurotic man who’s clearly a stand-in for Allen, and his personal history just makes that too offputting for me.

  8. Rachel

    I have her Star Wars and Stargate tie-ins — if you’re missing something by Martha Wells, those’ll be the ones, I bet.

  9. Rachel

    ….Scientology is rampant in Hollywood? The things I don’t know. My ignorance about celebrities is pretty nearly complete. But I’d heard things about how Tom Cruise treated some wife or other related to Scientology, and it was a big turn-off that was hard to forget.

    And yes, Woody Allen is another one for me, too.

  10. Pamela

    Thank you, I do have the Stargate and Star Wars books. According to the Goodreads list I’ve got everything but a couple non-fictions and the co-written Blade Singer, plus a few anthologies I need to finish double checking the short stories on (so far everything was reprinted in the Raksura collections).

    Regarding Cherryh, are the Morgaine books (omnibus just out on kindle) a decent place to start reading her? I tried Downbelow Station a couple months ago, but had to postpone reading it for a less emotional time.

  11. Elaine T

    Pamela,

    I remember trying the first Morgaine as the first CJC I read, and it not going very well. The Mri trilogy(FADED SUN: KESRITH, SHONJIR, and KUTATH) worked better for me.
    The PRIDE OF CHANUR is an entry point for many people, as is CUCKOO’s EGG (a rare standalone). I still think DOWNBELOW STATION is paced poorly and it made much more sense after I read the much smaller book MERCHANTER’s LUCK.

    The Teen and husband’s entry that worked was FORTRESS.

    on thread topic:
    I used to have a lot of Card’s work, but realized I wasn’t interested any more, so sold a bunch off. Still have a couple of his older works. Same with De Lint. Not the politics, just too much of the same stuff turning up over and over and over got tiresome.

    We have – I believe – everything Patricia Briggs has written, BTW, which I didn’t think of when counting up yesterday. 17 total on the pb shelf. I like her early work, husband buys and reads her later books. Also a fairly complete Terry Brooks collection which husband wants to keep them. I refuse to count or take credit for the number we have. And a zillion David Weber solo and combo works. ( was just trying to find something else by a W author and found the webers overwhelming.)

  12. Rachel

    In my opinion, yes, especially if you tend to prefer fantasy to SF. I really like the Morgaine series. Morgaine herself is an interesting example of an unlikable protagonist who is gradually made sympathetic through Vanye’s pov. Vanye, who is our only pov character — very different from Downbelow Station! — is sympathetic from the beginning. Like much of CJC’s work, this is a slower-paced story with quite gradual revelations about what is really going on; not that there isn’t plenty of action, but the story rewards a patient reader who enjoys letting it unroll at its own pace.

  13. Rachel

    Elaine, I think it’s funny that you have all of Terry Brooks’ stories but refuse to count them. :-)

    And although I like Morgaine as an entry, I do agree that Cuckoo’s Egg is a great entry point, too.

  14. Louise

    Agatha Christie – I haven’t counted recently, but I know it’s well over 20. Probably closer to 40.

    Lloyd Alexander – 24 books. 23 if we aren’t counting the duplicate copy of The Book of Three.

    Ellis Peters – I have almost the complete Cadfael collection, and am slowly-but-steadily building up my Felse collection.

    CS Lewis – two complete sets of Narnia books (three if you count my husband’s), the Space Trilogy, Till We Have Faces, and a smattering of his nonfiction, of which his Letters to Children and The Discarded Image are my favorites.

    LM Montgomery – All her novels except the Pat books, and almost all her short story collections.

    Brian Jacques – the Redwall series might have gotten completely formulaic by the end, but that didn’t stop me from collecting every one in paperback, and then slowly replacing them in hardcover as I am able. Plus the Flying Dutchman trilogy.

    There’s a few others that should be on there, like Dorothy Sayers and Maud Hart Lovelace, but alas, they did not write enough books.

  15. charlotte

    I’m another huge fan of In This House of Brede!!! But most of Godden’s books are slightly too dark/real problem filled, and so are not good comfort reading. An exception being Listen to the Nightingale, which I like very much indeed!

  16. Pete Mack

    Wow. Apparently I am a piker. I do have the compleat Dorothy Dunnett, Arthur Ransome, Liz Williams, Patrick O’Brian, CS Friedman, Rachel Neumeier, Mary Gentle, Elizabeth Bear… Hmm. Right. *Cough * . Bit none uses up a lot of board-feet except perhaps Eric Flint. And David Drake, though it isn’t complete.

  17. Rachel

    Louise, oddly, the Cadfael books didn’t work for me — yet I liked them in the TV version. Who knows why? My mother has a lot of Ellis Peters — a lot of Rex Stout’s Nero Wolfe books, too, so they take up her shelf space, not mine, though sometimes I borrow them.

    Charlotte, I’m always happy to hear another cheer for In This House of Brede! I don’t think I would consider any of Rumer Godden’s books comfort reads, exactly, though I’ve read several of them multiple times.

    Pete, I forgot Patrick O’Brian! I have all of his Aubrey-Maturin series in a box set, which is more than twenty, so hey! Yet another author on my 20+ list.

  18. Elaine T

    Rumer Godden’s books are dark? Really? I have read a lot of them, but only own half a dozen – thread topic! – including BREDE which is also my favorite. I think of them as dealing with serious stuff in a serious way but not dark.
    Never cared for her official children’s books, which I didn’t find until adult.

    i liked Ellis Peters and her other name Edith Pargeter (really like THE HEAVEN TREE, but not the sequels so much) but the Cadfaels fell victim to an early manifestation of my problem with mystery series: the formula got too obvious. I’m still fond of the first two, though. Hugh was the best antagonist.

  19. Cathy

    I can’t count how many of each favorite author as my books are scattered all over the house and garage and storage space . Then we have the ones that are living at my children’s homes. The Others series by Anne Bishop is my current favorite! I have now started to read her earlier work. It’s different from this new series and I’m not sure if I like the earlier books or not, but giving them a try.

  20. Rachel

    Cathy, I would be sure to have a sudden intense urge to read something and not know where it was! Then I would probably buy another copy because it’d be quicker than searching. So it’s just as well I keep things pretty well alphabetized.

    I’ve read this and that by Anne Bishop, but I think the Others series is really catchy and probably the most purely fun books she’s written.

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