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).