First Books by Unknown Authors

Sure, you know about summer reading. Light books with slamming plots, maybe a bodice-buster or two. Easy to read, sort of like potato chips for the mind.

May I make another suggestion? I’ve had enormous luck reading the first books of authors I’ve never heard of. It started with Khaled Hosseini’s book, The Kite Runner. As a first novel, it was a stunner on a topic I usually don’t read in fiction–war. But it wasn’t about war, it was about painful personal growth and understanding, told in an irresistible way.

Cover, The God of Animal by Aryn Kyle

Cover, The God of Animal by Aryn Kyle

After that, I read The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon. There is something about the truth of first-time novelists. This is, somehow, their story. The second novel is the one they feel they have to write. The first one is the one that has to be written. And it makes it incredibly powerful, raw, real.

The Secret Life of Bees is the first novel from non-fiction writer Sue Monk Kidd, so I’m not sure it counts, but it has that same compelling quality of reality and breath-taking writing.

Some first novels are incredible, they stand alone. Can you name anything Margaret Mitchell wrote after Gone With the Wind? Or To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee?

My latest find is The God of Animals by Aryn Kyle. A powerful book on love, horses, poverty, marriage gone awry, and coming of age. I’m not a horse lover, but this book still held me captive. Well written and timed, the ending was perfect for a first novel. In my mind, it would make a great movie, which I won’t go see for reasons that would spoil the plot line. I did see the movie of Kite Runner and enjoyed it. I needed to learn that many movies based on books are wonderful if you go to see them as movies, and don’t expect the book.

If this good luck streak of first novel continues, my summer reading may run well into fall.

–Quinn McDonald is a writer of non-fiction and a reader of fiction. She is a certified creativity coach who is moving to Arizona.