Rather than set the world on fire with radical contigency, I expect that ebooks will follow much the same trajectory as paperbacks. They will start out being frowned upon as shabby, and then they will deliver literature conveniently to millions of people who might not otherwise have read it.
In looking back over the comments on the “My Favorite Authors” post, I noticed that meganiane said: “Almost all male writers…” I hang my head in shame.
Yikes! It’s true, but it’s not true. What I mean is I failed to include several female authors who I adore. I’ll mention these authors names and their works in a minute. Let me first declare, and I know this may ruffle a few feathers out there, I am not a Jane Austen fan. In fact I don’t really care for her work. Okay ladies put your mace back into your purses, I recognize that she is a classic and great author. I recognize her weight, style and caliber of writing. I just do not care for her stories.
However, one of my all-time favorite writers, and I’m kicking myself in the ass for not including her on the list, is Francine Prose. I have two favorites, so far, from her. One is fiction—Blue Angel—the other is non-fiction—Reading Like a Writer. I have three or four other novels by her that I intend to read in the near future.
Also, Anne Sexton, the poet, is a favorite of mine. I did not include her because I did not include any poets. However, if I add poets to the list then Robert Frost and T.S. Eliot must be included.
Lastly, and I’m kicking myself in the ass for not including this writer; who, by the way I have quoted, reviewed and raved on and on about on this very blog, those of you who have read my blog for the last two years can confirm this … Virginia Woolf. She is one of my all-time favorite novelists and my favorite novel from her is To the Lighthouse.
I also love J.K. Rowling, but did not include young adult fiction. Hmmm, maybe I should start from scratch and include every genre I can think of with all my favorite authors and works from those genres. Great idea for a future list.
So, let me apologize for not including the great female authors in my list. If you have any others you would like to recommend feel free to comment on this post and let me know, okay? Cheers!
The most popular questions that readers of Word Painting ask me is, “What are your favorite books,” and “Who are your favorite authors.” Usually they go hand in hand, my favorite authors tend to write my favorite books. I read both fiction and non-fiction throughout each year so I’ll break my list down into both categories.
[Keep in mind, this list is subject to change over the years]
Richard Russo - Empire Falls (one of the best works of fiction I have ever read. He won the Pulitzer Prize for this work)
J.M. Coetzee - Disgrace (I love his sleek narrative, and how he so keenly uses various literary devices in this novel).
John Irving - A Prayer for Owen Meany (Irving has a wonderful understanding of the human condition. Also, every book I’ve read of his has strong character development)
Victor Hugo - Les Miserables (an absolute masterpiece. What more needs to be said?)
John Steinbeck - Of Mice and Men (If Steinbeck ever makes a reading list it’s usually not for this work. While I loved Grapes of Wrath, Of Mice and Men spoke to me on a deeper level.)
Stephen King - Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption (I know this is not a novel, it’s a novella, but it’s still one of the best pieces of fiction I’ve ever read. And, the movie adaptation is awesome too!)
Cormac McCarthy - All the Pretty Horses (Even though Blood Meridian is his “famous” work, and he won a Pulitzer for The Road and I have read those works too, I enjoyed All the Pretty Horses the most.)
Newly Discovered Fiction that is Excellent:
Jonathan Safran Foer - Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close
Paolo Giordana - The Solitude of Prime Number
Fiction I want to Read but have not yet:
David Foster Wallace - Infinite Jest & The Pale King
Fyodor Dostoyevsky - Crime and Punishment (Yep, I have not read this particular work by him)
Jon Krakauer - Into the Wild (Life changing)
Anne Lamott - Bird by Bird (A must read for aspiring writers)
Immanuel Kant - Critique of Practical Reason (I had a professor in my graduate studies at Marquette University who made Kant come to life. He shed a whole new light about Kant’s philosophy via this book).
Howard Zinn - A People’s History of the United States: 1492-Present (A history according to the people and their writings)
Robert W. Jenson - Systematic Theology Volumes 1 & 2 (Yes, I enjoy reading theology, and this is the best Systematic ever written)
Neil Peart - Traveling Music: Playing Back the Soundtrack to my Life and Times (I love the rock band Rush, but I really admire and respect Neil Peart, their drummer. This book is an excellent “travel” book which discusses music more than travel).
David Foster Wallace - This is Water: Some Thoughts, Delivered on a Significant Occasion, About Living a Compassionate Life (Funny, poignant, and life changing).
Tis the privilege of friendship to talk nonsense, and to have her nonsense respected.
OK. Historically the stuff that’s sort of rung my cherries: Socrates’ funeral oration, the poetry of John Donne, the poetry of Richard Crashaw, every once in a while Shakespeare, although not all that often, Keats’ shorter stuff, Schopenhauer, Descartes’ Meditations on First Philosophy and Discourse on Method, Kant’s Prolegomena to Any Future Metaphysic, although the translations are all terrible, William James’ Varieties of Religious Experience, Wittgenstein’s Tractatus, Joyce’s Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, Hemingway—particularly the ital stuff in In Our Time, where you just go oomph!, Flannery O’Connor, Cormac McCarthy, Don DeLillo, A.S. Byatt, Cynthia Ozick—the stories, especially one called “Levitations,” about 25 percent of the time Pynchon. Donald Barthelme, especially a story called “The Balloon,” which is the first story I ever read that made me want to be a writer, Tobias Wolff, Raymond Carver’s best stuff — the really famous stuff. Steinbeck when he’s not beating his drum, 35 percent of Stephen Crane, Moby-Dick, The Great Gatsby. And, my God, there’s poetry. Probably Phillip Larkin more than anyone else, Louise Glück, Auden.
David Foster Wallace in an interview with Salon writer Laura Miller.
[The thing I love about this list is that it contains fiction and non-fiction works. To be a well rounded reader (and writer) one must read both. It’s as necessary as breathing air.]
Circumstances are the rulers of the weak; they are but the instruments of the wise.