I'm reading Francesca Segal's The Innocents - and enjoying this modern day version of Edith Wharton's The Age of Innocence, set in North London's close Jewish community, very much indeed - and I've just come upon the following passage:
" 'So what do you mean you're "up to" 1899 and The Kreutzer Sonata? Do you always read chronologically?'
She nodded. '1889. Always. I've always done it. I like to evolve with the author, I don't want to know their future before they do and if I'm really reading a writer, like, committed to reading their whole oeuvre, then I want to move through their life with them and their work. If I love someone I want to walk beside them from the first to the last.' "
That's Ellie, a famous model and aspiring writer, talking about the reading she does while hanging around on photo-shoots, and it brought to mind this post on Twyla Tharp's The Creative Habit in which as you'll see she talks about reading 'archaeologically' as opposed to chronologically, beginning with a writer's final or most recent work and reading back to their beginning.
Have you ever done either (I have not, I think) and if so, what did you discover from the experience? Do you feel inclined to embark on a writer whose work is new to you by one of those methods or the other, or would you rather just dip in with their best or most famous book to start with and see where you go next? Do you feel that 'order read' matters little (except where books in a series are concerned, or where a central character such as a detective features again and again and of necessity develops - at least in terms of plot - with succeeding books)?