books, broke and bookish, Charles Dickens, Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, favorite author, Ian McEwan, J.D. Salinger, J.K. Rowling, Jane Austen, Kazuo Ishiguro, Margaret Atwood, Samantha Shannon, top ten tuesday
Up this week: All Time Favorite Authors
This one wasn’t too difficult. I ended up with six writers from the UK, three from the US, and one token Canadian. Some have a bit of rambling attached, so just know that you’ve been warned. In no particular order…
1. Charles Dickens
Charles Dickens came into my life in the early college years when I read Hard Times for a British literature course. It’s one of his shorter works, and it inspired me to later take a Dickens capstone course. The books were not short, but they were glorious. From child labor to disease, Dickens uncovers the real troubles in England during his lifetime, but he writes with such elegance and a natural flow that it’s oftentimes difficult to know when to feel inspired and when to feel disgusted or in shock. If you need an example, turn to Bleak House. It’s my favorite, and despite being grotesque it offers a prime look at Dickens’ writing style and creativity with characters. Everyone matters in their own way and has a part to play in the world, and Dickens outlines this fact beautifully in his work.
2. Jane Austen
There’s a hilarity in Jane Austen’s writing that is oftentimes forgotten or ignored because everyone is busy thinking about romance and happy endings. It may have slipped the notice of many, but Austen knew how to write humorous characters. Her sarcasm, satire, and general laugh-worthy moments make her a joy to read. I also enjoy the human struggle. Yes, there appear to be a lot of first world problems, but there’s so much more going on. There’s severe family drama, financial strain, illness, and people simply being rude. I’ve read everything she’s written and love it all. If you’re looking for my favorite, it’s a tie between Persuasion and Pride and Prejudice.
3. Ernest Hemingway
Some days I don’t know what the hell I’m doing being so interested in Hemingway. Perhaps Hemingway the man fascinates me. Perhaps it’s because I’m obsessed with how well he can write about so many different types of characters in different locations with different passions and write each scenario like he was born for it. A lot of people think of Hemingway as the fisherman and bullfighter. Others think of war. Many think of the number of wives and utter the word ‘misogynist’ in the same breath. Like with the prejudices of Austen, there is so much more going on here. I also don’t think him a misogynist. I wouldn’t be such a fan if I did. My Hemingway is The Sun Also Rises with a side of The Garden of Eden. My Hemingway studied people and searched for understanding. My Hemingway was imperfect and wrote about the beauty and struggle of imperfection.
4. F. Scott Fitzgerald
Along with Hemingway comes Fitzgerald, at least for me. I read The Great Gatsby back in high school, but Scott really took off for me around the same time I started reading Hemingway and became obsessed with the artists of the Lost Generation. Coming from a slew of mental troubles as well as marrying a woman with a slew of mental troubles, Fitzgerald’s literature primarily speaks to the troubles associated with life in the 1920s. There’s a lot of glitz and glamor, but underneath it all is struggle and imperfection. These people are beautiful and seemingly perfect on the surface, but below it they truly are damned. I’m a fan of chaos in literature, so naturally I cling to Fitzgerald.
5. J.D. Salinger
I feel like I need to own a t-shirt that says, “I don’t like Catcher, but I love the Glass family.” If all you’ve read from Salinger is The Catcher In the Rye, you have some work to do. I’m not overly fond of Holden, but I’ve had a fascination with Salinger’s Glass family for several years. Salinger writes some rather phenomenal prose in his short stories and novellas about this rather complex and chaotic family. Even if you’re not a fan of Catcher I would encourage you to give the Glass family a try.
6. Kazuo Ishiguro
Never Let Me Go and The Remains of the Day are two of my favorite novels, and they just so happen to be written by the same man. I read Ishiguro first when Never Let Me Go was about to come out as a movie, and naturally I had to read the book first. I’ve been devouring Ishiburo’s books ever since. It’s rare to see an author consistently uncover the truth about humanity in the most creative and fascinating of ways. Never Let Me Go and The Buried Giant are two glaringly obvious examples of this. He borrows scientific and fantastical elements and turns them into lessons on human nature that anyone could recognize and even relate to. He’s also a beautiful writer. I mean that as both his writing style and his face.
7. Ian McEwan
Oh, Ian. My love. My greatest treasure. Like Ishiguro, I discovered McEwan while awaiting the release of a film version of his work. This time it was Atonement. (Yes, I love Keira Knightley book-to-film adaptations. Get off my back.) I have since filled over half a shelf with his novels, novellas, short story collections, and even a libretto. I admire how he brings to life social issues and prejudices without overselling it. I also wrap him and Ishiguro up together often because they both have a writing style that reads like smooth velvet, so obviously I hear the books being narrated by Alan Rickman in my head as I read them. If that isn’t enough of a compliment to get people to read these men, I give up.
8. Margaret Atwood
In Canada there exists a sassy, charming, and talented woman. She’s 75 years
old young. Her name is Margaret Atwood. While I love her writing (seriously, LOVE it), I’m putting her on this list because she’s a treasure in the literary world and a glorious human being. She brings so much knowledge and truth to her work, and she gives back to the community that has welcomed her with open arms for decades. She’s a cheerleader of fellow writers and a joy to listen to. Oh, and she also complimented my Severus Snape phone cover during a signing in Chicago, and you have to reward that.
9. Samantha Shannon
Samantha Shannon is a new favorite for me considering her first book published in September, 2013. I don’t read a lot of fantasy/paranormal fiction, but The Bone Season series had me hooked from the beginning. I was immediately sucked into this world of voyants, Rephaim, and Emim taking place between Oxford and London. For more fangirling, you can find my reviews of The Bone Season and The Mime Order on the blog. I don’t know if Shannon will stand as an ALL TIME favorite author since her books haven’t even been out two full years, but I do believe she will always be one of my favorite fantasy/paranormal writers.
10. J.K. Rowling
Speaking of fantasy, of course I’m going to write about J.K. Rowling. There are so many people (likely thousands) who claim Rowling and her Harry Potter series have gotten them through some of their darker days, and I’m no exception. She taught us about love, loss, friendship, prejudice, and so much more. Her thousands of pages offered lessons, humor, dark times, and a place to go when there was nowhere else to turn. It’s a bit maddening looking back on those days and realizing how much I needed those books, and how much I found more comfort in them than I did in people, but I would never change a moment of the years I spent (and still spend) wrapped up in Potter. Rowling will be with me always, until the very end.
Be sure to check back next week for another round of Top Ten Tuesday.
Who are some of your favorite authors?