I don’t know about you guys but when I sit down to fire up the Kindle app on my iPad, I tend to keep a snack or two nearby so I can nibble as I read. Given how often I read, it’s important to change things up on a regular basis. Fortunately, I have a rather diverse taste in snacks. Salty, sweet, savory, you name it and I’ve probably tried it.
As a reader, I have to admit my tastes aren’t nearly as varied. Sure, I’ve been known to try a good murder mystery every so often. Heck, I even accepted a dare from my blog partner to read a paranormal romance novel. But more often than not, I tend to stay in my wheelhouse of horror, paranormal or post apocalypse. Luckily, there are some absolutely amazing authors in these genres. Some you’ve probably heard of, others maybe not.
To help readers who may not be familiar with my favorite genres, I’ve put together a list of some of the all-time best writers and paired them with a snack that will give you some insight into what you can expect from their novels. Sounds a bit strange, right? Fair enough but stay with me, I think you’ll like where this goes. Worse case, you’ll get a bad case of the munchies.
Author: Dean Koontz
Even if you don’t read much horror, you’ve probably heard of Dean Koontz. He’s definitely on my list of top authors. His books are as fun and fast-paced as eating a bowl of yummy gourmet popcorn (maybe with a little salt and butter). But what keeps me coming back for more is how Koontz always seems to find premises that are new and original just like the variety of popcorn seasonings and flavorings coming out all the time. It also doesn't hurt that he's been writing more series lately which allows me to get invested in a set of characters and follow them on an extended journey.
Unfortunately, one of the other reasons I chose to pair Koontz with popcorn is because there are times when neither of them are quite as satisfying or filling as some other authors/snacks. Very tasty for sure but you'll probably be hungry in an hour or so. That said, they’re both immensely popular because they’re quick, tasty and fun. You could do a lot worse with your reading and snack choices.
Author: Sam Sisavath
Snack: Dried fruit
Sisavath hasn’t been around as long as authors like Dean Koontz and Stephen King but his Purge of Babylon post apocalypse series has already put him on my short list of “must read authors”. I particularly appreciate his unique ability to write lengthy series of books that can keep readers entertained for months in much the same way delicious gourmet dried fruit stays fresh much longer than most snack foods. And just as there are a wide variety of dried fruits available for different tastes, Sisavath has a side series centered around a character from the Babylon series, has started another post-Babylon series and has completely separate Allie Krycek and Red Sky Conspiracy series. Finding an author this talented who produces such captivating work over prolonged series is the holy grail for any reader. The best part is that the first book in his prolific Babylon series is only $2.99.
Author: Keith C. Blackmore
Snack: Gourmet cashews
Blackmore is another author with a talent for creating a fantastic series although with different strengths and weaknesses than Sisavath. While the Babylon series was a study in long-term, continuous plotting and world building over the course of 9 books. Blackmore’s signature Mountain Man series feels more like a set of self-contained stories. There are usually a few recurring characters but there are often entire sets of new ones in each book to keep things interesting as well. Not to say either approach is better. They're just different. In my book, having a little variety is a good thing.
The area where Blackmore’s gifts are most apparent are in his character development. As with my favorite salty nut, his characters stand apart from most with a richness and depth readers can savor. Some may be flawed (just like the cans of cashew “halves and pieces” sold in drug stores) but in the end, that’s part of what makes them so relatable.
The other aspect I love about Blackmore’s character’s is how they often discover a new aspect of themselves as the stories progress. (I think of them as the gourmet seasoned cashews or the chocolate-covered cashews that blend the perfect mix of sweet and salty.) Gus—the central character in the Mountain Man series—is a perfect example. He had always been weak and lazy until the apocalypse forced him to embark on a journey through a hellscape of pain and suffering where he learns more about himself than he ever thought possible.
Author: Michael Stephen Fuchs
Snack: Beef Jerky
Beef jerky may not be viewed as a highly sophisticated snack but it’s salty/rich flavor, chewy/rough texture, long-lasting durability and portability is a perfect metaphor for Michael Stephen Fuchs’ uber elite military team at the center of the Arisen zombie apocalypse series. Like Sisavath’s Babylon series, the Arisen series is extensive (book 12 and counting) with a plot that features more action, tension, plot twists and an unbelievable level of crazy intense battles than you can possibly imagine.
However, just as many people would be surprised at the extensive range of jerky flavors available in a variety of sizes and shapes, I think readers will be pleasantly surprised to discover the depth of personality Fuchs’ has conveyed with every major character. It’s certainly not all zombie battles and military jargon (although there’s plenty of that too). Understanding the thoughts, motivations and conflicting emotions of the small group of people trying to save all of mankind makes for an especially compelling story. The fact that Fuchs has done it on such a grand and epic scale is a gift for which readers should be eternally grateful.
Author: Justin Cronin
Snack: Harry & David’s Moose Munch
Have to admit, I struggled to find a good snack match for Justin Cronin. He doesn’t have a body of work anywhere near the size of the other authors on this list. And speaking as a huge fan, he also takes WAY too long to release new work (Almost four years between books two and three of The Passage trilogy. C’mon man, that’s a presidential term.) Having said that, his novels are almost too good to be compared to a snack of any kind. The writing has a beautiful lyrical quality unmatched by any other author I’ve read.
With that in mind, I selected Harry & David’s signature Moose Munch for it’s exceptional high quality and perfect mixture of delicious salty and sweet treats that combine for a gourmet snacking experience. They have a range of Moose Munch ingredient combinations, I prefer the version with cashews personally.
Author: Stephen King
Snack: Ben and Jerry’s Chocolate Fudge Brownie ice cream
I obviously saved the best author for last (this is not up for dispute). The consistent level of unprecedented quality and commercial success sustained over the course of a prolific multi-decade career puts King in a class by himself. From his early works like Carrie and Salem’s Lot to classics such as It and The Stand, King is widely regarded as a modern literary master without equal. On a personal level, his work was instrumental in the development of my love for reading. His work literally helped shape a portion of my life.
Choosing the perfect snack pairing was a responsibility I didn’t take lightly. In the end, my intense love of ice cream combined with Ben & Jerry’s own decades-long reputation for excellence as a fellow New England icon made them the perfect match.
What about you? Do you have any author/snack pairings you prefer? Give us a shout, we'd love to hear about 'em.