John Grisham Read-a-Likes

By Lindsay Roseberry, Reference Department

We all know the feeling.  You just finished a book you really liked and now you want to read a book just like it or at least comparable.  I know from experience that I am always so happy when there is another book in the series, and I can read something that feels the same.  But what do you do when the book is not part of a series??  How do you find something new to read??

Books Are Magic

Nancy Pearl (Big Library Guru)’s says that we like read-a-likes because we want a book just like the one we finished reading.  We want to recreate the pleasure and thrill of reading, the page-turning, the headlong rush to the end.  Perhaps it was the setting or what we learned.  Sometimes we can’t put a finger on it, but we know we want that feeling again.

Pearl goes on to say that most fiction is made up of four parts: story, character, setting and language.  She refers to these parts as doorways, and these doorways are larger or smaller, depending on the book and author.  So, when the story is the biggest part, readers call these page-turners, because they can’t put the book down.  When character is the biggest doorway, readers connect with the characters so much, they often feel like they’ve lost a good friend when they finish the book.  When the setting is the largest doorway, readers comment on how they felt as if they were there.  And most readers talk about how they savored the words when language is the largest doorway. Whatever it is, we want that experience again.

But let’s say you want to read more books similar to what John Grisham writes.  What’s the next step?  Libraries have many tricks when it comes to finding read-a-likes for our patrons.  We do have in-house bookmarks for broad categories, like mystery, romance and science fiction for additional suggestions of authors. We also have a database called Books & Authors, which gives you similar titles and authors based on what book you have just finished.

Book Browse, a for profit book review site, has people who actually read the books and suggest what books are similar to what author’s works.  Amazon may have an algorithm; Good Reads seems to rely on reviews and reviewers, but since they were acquired by Amazon, they might use the same algorithm.  But when you search Google for Grisham read-a-likes there are many possibilities.  Here are a few.

According to BookBub.com, here are some read-a-like authors:

  • Scott Turow
  • Lisa Scottoline
  • Michael Connelly
  • William Diehl
  • William Landay
  • Robert Dugoni
  • Robert Bailey
  • Adam Mitzner
  • Greg, Iles
  • John Lescroat,
  • Phillip Margolin
  • James Grippando

BookBrowse has these authors that they think write like John Grisham:

  • David Baldacci
  • Carnes
  • John Berendt
  • Robert Harris
  • Mary Higgins Clark
  • Phillip Margolin
  • Steve Martini
  • Kyle Mills
  • Michael Palmer

In this list from Williamsburg Public Library (in Virginia), women writers are also listed:

  • Scott Turow
  • Lisa Scottoline
  • Richard North Patterson
  • Phillip Margolin
  • Steve Martini
  • Greg Iles
  • Robert K. Tanenbaum
  • Dudley W. Buffa
  • John S. Martel
  • Jay Brandon
  • Kate Wilhelm
  • Peri O’Shaugnessy
  • Andrew Pyper
  • William Diehl
  • John T. Lescroart
  • William Coughlin
  • William Bernhardt

In case you are new to reading Grisham, here is a brief bio.  He was born in Arkansas in 1955, and like so many boys growing up, he wanted to be a baseball player.  He majored in accounting at Mississippi State and then went on to law school at Ole Miss.  After graduating in 1981, he practiced law until he was elected to the state House of Representatives.  He developed an interest in writing, taking three years to write his first novel – A Time to Kill, which was published in 1988. The Firm was his next book, which stayed on the “NYT Bestseller List” for over 40 weeks.  He sold the film rights, his career took off and he’s never looked back.  He generally writes a book a year but since he has written over 60 books, perhaps he published more often than once a year.  He also has a teen series featuring Theodore Boone, kid lawyer.

In an informative article from New York Times, here is his list of do’s and don’ts for writing fiction.

  1. DO WRITE A PAGE EVERY DAY

That’s about 200 words, or 1,000 words a week. Do that for two years and you’ll have a novel that’s long enough.

Nothing will happen until you are producing at least one page per day.

  1. DON’T WRITE THE FIRST SCENE UNTIL YOU KNOW THE LAST

This necessitates the use of a dreaded device commonly called an outline. Virtually all writers hate that word. I have yet to meet one
who admits to using an outline.

Plotting takes careful planning. Writers waste years pursuing stories that eventually don’t work.

  1. DO WRITE YOUR ONE PAGE EACH DAY AT THE SAME PLACE AND TIME

Early morning, lunch break, on the train, late at night — it doesn’t matter. Find the extra hour, go to the same place, shut the door.

No exceptions, no excuses.

  1. DON’T WRITE A PROLOGUE

Prologues are usually gimmicks to hook the reader. Avoid them. Plan your story (see No. 2) and start with Chapter 1.

  1. DO USE QUOTATION MARKS WITH DIALOGUE

Please do this. It’s rather basic.

  1. DON’T — KEEP A THESAURUS WITHIN REACHING DISTANCE

There are three types of words: (1) words we know; (2) words we should know; (3) words nobody knows. Forget those in the third category
and use restraint with those in the second.

A common mistake by fledgling authors is using jaw-breaking vocabulary. It’s frustrating and phony.

  1. DO READ EACH SENTENCE AT LEAST THREE TIMES IN SEARCH OF WORDS TO CUT

Most writers use too many words, and why not? We have unlimited space and few constraints.

  1. DON’T — INTRODUCE 20 CHARACTERS IN THE FIRST CHAPTER

Another rookie mistake. Your readers are eager to get started. Don’t bombard them with a barrage of names from four generations of the same family. Five names are enough to get started.


Sources:

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About WCPLtn

The Williamson County Public Library System seeks to meet the recreational, educational, and information needs of county patrons through: a significant collection of digital and print materials housed at a network of countywide locations headquartered in Franklin; extensive personal computer and related technology; and diverse and interesting programs targeted to various age groups.

Posted on February 8, 2019, in Authors and Books, Library Services and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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