Pearl S. Buck – The first literary love for me, and most specifically you should read The Good Earth and Peony.
Barbara Kingsolver – The Poisonwood Bible. Such an amazing book, I’ve read it six times now, and still, each time the emotions are fresh. And, each time, what I walk away with from the book changes. A true successful novel in my eyes.
Steinbeck – ANY. Just anything of his, but Cannery Row will always be my favorite.
Faulkner – As I Lay Dying specifically. Each character is so striking, I could not put it down.
John Knowles – A Separate Peace. Another book I’d tear apart again and again.
Gabriel Garcia Marquez – He is truly a fantastical writer, you’ll feel transported. Especially in One Hundred Years of Solitude.
Cormac McCarthy – Always. I love this man, I love his writing. He is a major influence on my own work, and a personal writer hero. My all time favorites by him are The Road, All the Pretty Horses, and Sunset Limited, in that order.
Grace Paley – Such a spunky woman that can take your breath away in three pages or less. Her short story Samuel is what did me in.
Donald Barthelme – If only I could start all my stories like he does! And his absurd yet bitingly realistic style is just as fun to read as saying his name! My very favorite of his is a particularly moving short story called Views of My Father Weeping.
Leni Zumas – She’s not for the faint of heart, but she paints the deplorable and grotesque in such a beautiful light. She also likes plums :) Her short story Heart Sockets is a melancholy favorite of mine that makes me want to hug the book.
Lois Lowry – Everyone knows her for The Giver which is an amazing novel, but my personal favorite was her Gathering Blue
Elspeth Huxley - The Flame Trees of Thika; my own copy is a worn down and loved book containing a child’s adventures and life through an untamed
Africa told in startling clarity.
Kaye Gibbons – She struck me to the bone with her novel Ellen Foster.
Neal Shusterman – He writes “young adult” novels, but his Unwind will leave you feeling empty. Amazing story.
Beowulf – It’s a classic, you have to.
Zora Neale Hurston – Their Eyes Were Watching God. Her power over description makes me swoon.
Tim O’Brien – The Things They Carried. His haunting portrayal of war will not leave you, and yet, you are better for it.
Ray Bradbury – From Fahrenheit 451, to his short story The Sound of Thunder, and Dark Skinned and Golden Eyed They Were, this man always captures my imagination. One of my personal all time favorites of his though is Dandelion Wine.
Cornelia Funke – Her books make me truly feel like a child again, as if I am slipping back into comfortable memories. Her Inkheart series continues to beat each previous book of her on my favorite list. First it was Inkheart, then Inkspell, and I know Inkdeath will make cry and love her novels all over again.
Neil Gaiman – The man who writes those creepy kid’s novels that I want to write. Coraline stole my mind. Beware the Other Mother. (Also, while the movie was pretty awesome and fun, it was no where near the talent of the actual short novel, nor as demented. Let’s just say they had to “happy” it up for
Christopher Moore – Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff (Christ’s Childhood Pal). Ok, so the title makes it seem really sacrilegious, but the novel is actually a stirring and hilarious depiction of what happened to Christ between the ages 13 and 30. And somehow,
is able to make you laugh like a sinner at some pretty sacrilegious jokes, while unknowingly falling for Joshua (Jesus’ character in the novel). It is by far an interesting and hilarious read. Moore
Walt Whitman – again, anything of his. His poetry is pure beauty. You can not contain it. It would be easier to contain the rain, or to place every single blade of shining grass within a shoe box.
Langston Hughes – I gush enough. Langston Hughes is my true literary love. He is my number one writer hero. My number one influence. I devour his words slowly, they all have a distinct taste, like dark plums soaked in light wine. I wish I could have met the man.
Shakespeare – Yes, everyone knows him. But some of his work just seems to stand out more, like The Tempest, The Twelfth Night, The Winter’s Tale and Macbeth. High school can keep their stupid Romeo and Juliet, give me raging storms, sorcerers and sprites, give me comical temporary sex changes in an out of control love story, give me a sad sad tale of a mother awaiting her daughter’s return, and give me a bloodied child to rise up and speak with witches to ambitious murderous hearts.
Joanne Harris – Her book Runemarks was a refreshing plunge into a world ruled by Norse Gods and my all time favorite character, Loki. An awesome and unique adventure tale to refresh your mind. She was also the author of Chocolat, which was made into one of my favorite movies as well.
Elie Wiesel – This man has been to Hell. He has walked it’s eerily perfect cobblestone streets, he has slept on it’s stiff crammed bunks. He has pulled himself through it’s levels, one at a time, watching the dead parade before him. And he has lived. He has lived to write it all down, in a startling short, eight chapter novel , detailing, at the age of 16, his horrific struggle through Auschwitz, Birkenau, Buna, and
Buchenwald. It is not a pleasant read. And yet, it is something that can not be ignored. This novel, this memoir, reduced me to nothing, to curling around the book in tears as if this could protect him, and somehow made me stronger. Here is a man who saw evil. Who saw Hell. And yet, he is old and happy now, speaking only of peace. He is a true inspiration, and the world would be a darker place without him.
This book, above all others, you should read. Night – by Elie Wiesel.