Ah, the difficult second book… often an author will write their debut book and find it’s a bona fide bestseller. It’s everything they could have dreamed it would be, and an amazing experience. And then it comes time to write the next one! This one comes with usually a lot less time to work on it, and a load more expectations. Here are some of our favourite second books from some authors that have proved they’re not one trick ponies.
The book everyone is talking about at the moment is Into the Water from Paula Hawkins. How do you follow up a bestseller like The Girl on the Train? Her first book smashed sales records and was made into a blockbuster movie. Her second book is an addictive novel of psychological suspense about truth and secrets, showing she still has the knack of writing a compelling twist.
Another hotly anticipated book is The Ministry of Utmost Happiness by Arundhati Roy. Roy wrote the bestselling The God of Small Things twenty years ago, so it’s been quite a wait for her next fiction book! This new tale transports us across a subcontinent on a journey of many years. It takes us deep into the lives of its gloriously rendered characters, each of them in search of a place of safety, meaning and love.
Hannah Kent wrote an absolutely brilliant first book in Burial Rites, set in 1829 in Iceland, the story of a women sentenced to death for her part in a brutal murder. Incredibly atmospheric, Kent proved she was one to watch. Her second novel, The Good People, did not disappoint. Set in rural Ireland in the 19th century, this is a novel of desperate circumstances and the ‘Good People’ – the fairies that many believed in, with sometimes devastating consequences.
One of the best literary stories of recent times, Harper Lee wrote Go Set A Watchman before the Pulitzer prize winning To Kill A Mockingbird, and was told the story would be better if was about Scout and Jem as children. With over fifty years in between publications, this is one of the longest waits for a second book ever.
Maestra by L.S. Hilton got everyone talking; a shocking and sexy psychological thriller, with some scenes that would make Christian Grey blush. The heroine is back in Domina, and her past is catching up to her. Blackmail, intrigue and a race to the death, these books are not for the faint-hearted.
Not exactly a second book, but The Casual Vacancy was J.K.Rowling’s first book after the Harry Potter series that was under her own name, and her first book (exclusively) for adults. A fascinating and entertainment evocation of British society, this was a blackly comic novel that was very different to the Harry Potter series, but also very, very good.
A Fraction of a Whole by Steve Toltz was riotously funny explosion of a novel that was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize. We had to wait seven years for his next book Quicksand. The Australian Book Review described it as having ‘a thousand dazzling throwaway moments of brilliance’, these are two quintessential Australian novels that are definitely worth reading.
And for those of us that loved Jane Harper’s The Dry (and if you haven’t read this, you absolutely should – this was one of the most exciting books released in 2016), her new book has just been announced and the cover revealed. Force of Nature will be out in October 2017!