Thirteen writers I adore:
Someone described his work as "philosophy lite". Call it what you will, his books captivated me decades ago, and his adventures in living his beliefs have helped to form - or at least validate - some of my own beliefs.
I was fascinated by the legend of this Indian writer who submitted the manuscript for The God of Small Things to a London agent who, not long after, found himself on a plane to India, contract and six-figure advance in hand. When I read the book I understood. It's the writing.
I read My Family and Other Animals when I was a child, and I was hooked for life. Durrell's accounts of his childhood in Greece, along with his adventures as an animal collector, zookeeper and conservationist, not only provided me with innumerable hours of high entertainment but also contributed to my development as a naturalist - and writer.
During my stays in Florida the highpoint of my weekend was buying the Miami Herald and reading Barry's column. The quintessential humorist and satirist, Barry is unsurpassed, imho, at exposing the hysterical insanities in everyday life.
During a short teaching stint earlier this year, I met a fifteen year old boy who shared my passion for The Bard. I wanted to hug him. When I left, he hugged me. After all, how often do you meet someone else who gets goosebumps every me s/he reads:
Come, thick night,
And pall thee in the dunnest smoke of hell,
That my keen knife see not the wound it makes,
Nor heaven peep through the blanket of the dark,
To cry "Hold, hold!"
I've lost count of the number of times I've read To Kill a Mockingbird. Lee captures the essence of childhood while at the same time exploring very adult themes and telling a damned good story.
I read Life of Pi last year and could not put down this improbable tale of a boy and a tiger. Why? Martel weaves magic with his words and his wisdom, holds you in absolute thrall from cover to cover. I think I want to marry him.
Her memoir I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings is the story of her childhood and it goes straight to the heart. It made me cry, rage, and laugh out loud. No one who has read this book will ever forget "Preach it, I say!" A marvelous storyteller.
What's funny about a housewife living in the suburbs, battling with spouse, spawn, cooking, laundry, crab grass, weight gain and her own expectations of domestic bliss? Ask Erma. If you're a wife and mother who's about to lose her sanity, forget Xanax. Erma is the remedy.
I've read her children's books, her young adult books, her adult books, and loved every one, from Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing to Forever to Wifey... Whatever the genre, Blume delivers.
After reading A Walk in the Woods I knew I had to get my hands on his other books. Bryson combines several of my reading fetishes: humour, the natural world, travel, and social satire. A winning combination.
I was young and impressionable when I read Fear of Flying. I found it decadent and shocking. I was older when I read How To Save Your Own Life. I found it decadent and shocking, yes, but also delicious and empowering with its siren call to Live! Love! Cast away the dross!
Here is another writer who speaks to the things I hold dear: conservation of the natural world, solitude, rejection of worldly values, the beauty and mystery of existence in all its manifestations. My tattered copy of Desert Solitaire is one of my prized possessions.