As I went about a long list of Saturday errands, I found myself thinking “what am I going to blog about this week?” As I often do, I returned to the thoughtful comments readers made on prior blog posts. I can’t tell you how grateful I am to everyone who reads my posts and comments and gets such wonderful discussions going. It keeps the blog dynamic, which I think is so important with any web-based material. And it provides much needed inspiration to me as I do my weekly updates :-).

This week’s inspiration comes from another comment Taryn made, in responses to the discussion about my What makes you want to buy a book? post a couple of weeks ago. Taryn brought up a question I’d love to hear answers on from more readers of this blog:

I have a question for this crowd: Who, among your favorite authors, would you put Tracy’s books? For me, I pick Elizabeth George, Anne Perry, Pam Rosenthal, Judith Ivory, but even Harlan Coben (for the horrible things that happen to ordinary people) and whose novels are relentless. Vince Flynn has the relentless part down and while his circle of people is very small he is completely committed to them, so if feels like there is room on this bookshelf. The are others – what are yours? My criteria is spectacular writing about compelling people who can’t help but hurt the one they love because of things in their past, they don’t need to be a love story but a history/mystery is probably a better fit.

In any case what I want to know is who’d be on your bookcase?

Authors are often asked what other authors’ books are like theirs. It’s a tantalizing and often frustrating question. It’s hard to step back and see one’s own work from enough distance to come up with an answer. But I know as a reader I find such comparisons a very helpful way to discover new authors. I discovered Freedom & Necessity by Steven Brust & Emma Bull, when people discussed it on a Dorothy Dunnett list I’m on. It was described as having Dunnettish qualities and someone referred to the “Harriet Vane-esque” heroine. With a recommendation that referenced two of my favorite authors (and one of my favorite literary heroines) how could I resist? I ordered Freedom & Necessity from Amazon and devoured it in about twenty-four hours of almost non-stop reading. It remains one of my all time favorite books. And I totally agree with the Dunnett and Harriet Vane comparisons.

I started watching The X-Files when readers on a Laurie King list I’m on compared the relationship between Russell & Holmes to the relationship between Scully & Mulder. As anyone who reads my blog will know, I became totally hooked on The X-Files. And I definitely see the comparison to Holmes & Russell. Very different characters, but the intellectual partnership is there, the strong emotions simmering under the surface and expressed in a sort of code, the interplay between the mystery solving and the relationship, the understated words that speak volumes because so much is unsaid (Mulder’s “I don’t want to risk losing you” in “Requiem”; Holmes comment that the sun setting in the east wouldn’t cause his heart to stop but the sight of his wife going over the rail of a ship might do so in Locked Rooms).

I’d love to hear more on this topic from readers of this blog. What books would you compare the Charles & Mélanie books to? Did any of you find the Charles & Mélanie books because they were recommended by someone who said “this book is sort of like…”? Have you discovered other authors (or television shows or movies) because someone recommended them as similar to a book you loved? Do you find yourself comparing authors to other authors when you make recommendations to friends? Do you group books on a mental bookshelf with books you find similar?

I posted a new addition to the Fraser Correspondence last night–a letter from Gisèle, on the one month anniversary of her marriage, to Lady Frances.