AtoZ, Blog Challenge, Books

Yellowback – 5 Mass authors I grew up reading


Yellowback means mass-produced cheap, sensationalist novels which were sold in yellow paper covers in the 19th century. My interpretation of this prompt is to talk about the books by the mass authors that I grew up reading during my teen years. 

My reading habit started pretty early in life and by the time I hit my teens, I was a voracious reader. In fact reading was my fix for everything. But buying books in the late 80s-early 90s was difficult due to two reasons; one, they were expensive and two, not easily available. So I started digging around in everyone’s attics and bookshelves to find books that I could read.

One of the biggest such source of books for me was my maternal uncle’s storeroom. He was extremely fond of reading American authors and had a veritable trove of  James Patterson, John Grisham, James Hadley Chase, Michael Crichton, Harold Robbins, MAD comics, M.A.S.H comics, Reader’s Digest and many many more.

Second book haul was from my parent’s bookshelf and there I found plenty of courtroom dramas and Victorian romances.

Third source of the yellowback novels were the pirated book sellers on the streets of New Delhi, from whom I ended up picking some real gems and for a steal.

Out of them all, I loved reading the following five genres of yellowbacks the most:

Courtroom Drama + Detective stories

I discovered Erle Stanely Gardner on my dad’s shelf and fell head over heels in love with Perry Mason, Della Street and the able bodied side-kick, Paul Drake. I especially loved the Sherlock Holmesque detection techniques that Perry Mason employed to solve his cases. The icing on the cake was his courtroom demeanor which was spell binding to say the least.

Also read book review of one of the most popular Sherlock Holmes novel

Medical Thrillers

Robin Cook’s Coma was a milestone in my reading corner. I was absolutely spellbound by the imaginative writing and plot narration which have me goosebumps. I ended up reading as many of his books as I could till they became monotonous for me. That’s when I moved on to Michael Crichton’s books which were an innovative mix of medical science interspersed with sci-fi elements.

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I began with Victorian romances written by Barbara Cartland but soon grew bored with them and moved onto Mills & Boons for a while. A little later, I stumbled onto novels by Danielle Steel and could not get enough of them. I must have devoured at least 50 of her novels during my college years, including Zoya, one of her most popular books. Did you know she has written over 190 books?

Also read the book review of one of Celeste Ng’s popular books

Romance + Suspense Thrillers

Sidney Sheldon was the next big thing for me and I fell in love with his racy style of writing. His novels are an interesting blend of suspense, romance, thriller and psychological elements. My favorite is If Tomorrow Comes which was made into a very popular movie as well.

Drama Thrillers

The only Englishman on my list of 5 mass authors is Jeffery Archer who writes compelling thrillers full of several twists and turns, peppered with zestful wit. His novels are intricately marked with intriguing and unpredictable endings. I still own a few of his short stories collections and re-read them whenever I need a short light read.

So what do you think of my list of yellowback writers? Which one of these authors is your favorite and which book is the one for you?

Coming up the final post Z – Zeitgeber which means time giver!!

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For the uninitiated, AtoZ challenge is a blogging challenge wherein one has to write on every alphabet from A to Z and post on all days of April, except Sundays. Usually its better to devise a theme as it makes it easy to write the posts. Plus readers have a reason to stay hooked too.

I am participating in this years challenge with Life Of Leo with a shared theme of quirky bookish words. Both of us are interpreting the words as per our reading tastes.


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2 thoughts on “Yellowback – 5 Mass authors I grew up reading

  1. I used to read Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys, Secret Seven and Famous Five when I was still at school. Then I moved on to Mills and Boons (which bored me after a while). Next, I picked up Sidney Sheldon, Harold Robbins, Robin Cook and Jeffrey Archer, and I loved them all! Particularly Sidney Sheldon and Jeffrey Archer. Their books are unputdownable!

    1. Absolutely agree with you on Sidney Sheldon and Jeffrey Archer being unputdownable. I used to be all about them at one point of time. I remember the Nancy Drew and Hardy boys series too. You seemed to have read very similarly to me 🙂

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