When I’m not writing or editing, I’m reading. It’s hard for any writer to name their one favorite author; indeed, it’s impossible to say, “This one was the greatest,” because there are so many brilliant writers out there whose talents shine in different ways. But when I’m reading, I’m most likely to pick up one of these people:
Erma Bombeck: I like to laugh, but I’m finicky about my humor. Ms. Bombeck always delivered, aiming her finely honed wit at herself, her family, and everyday life. The woman made me laugh at cancer, for goodness sake. I consider it one of life’s greatest tragedies that we didn’t have her for longer.
Larry McMurtry: This man has given us some of the most wonderful, flawed, fabulous literary characters: the unapologetically drunk and flirtatious Augustus McCrae; stubborn, sad, and loyal Woodrow Call; the beautiful, ballsy Aurora Greenway; smart and sassy Nellie Courtright . . . he excels at character development.
Stephen King: King runs hot and cold for me, but I’ve still devoured every single book he’s ever written, whether I loved it or hated it. (Most of the time, I’ve loved it.) This man has had more influence on the modern writing scene than any other author in the past century (take a look at your bookshelf: see how your books are now twice to three times as thick as they used to be? You can thank King for that). Authors often cite his book On Writing as their bible for learning how to be a writer.
John Irving: I do prefer Irving’s older works to his newer stuff, but again, when he has something new come out, I always read it. His depiction of what a struggle life is for everyday folk, people who you’d think were your happy neighbors, is unrivaled. His novel Cider House Rules was so beautiful and brilliant that it’s one of the only books I actually sought out in first edition hardcover. The only other first edition I’ve ever hunted down was by . . .
Wally Lamb: If I were being held at gunpoint and forced to name just one book as the best thing I’ve ever read, I’d probably name She’s Come Undone by Wally Lamb. (The only time I’ve gotten into a friendship-ending argument over a novel was when someone whom I thought I respected mentioned that she didn’t care for this book.) Again, I’ve read everything he’s written, and Lamb’s ability to evoke the saddest and sweetest of emotions leaves me in awe.
Truman Capote: In Cold Blood is still one of the best-selling true crime books, even though it was released in 1965. But it’s Capote’s short stories that often impress me: executed flawlessly and gorgeously, he could bring me to laughter or tears in 5,000 words or less. If you can get your hands on a copy of Breakfast at Tiffany’s that includes the short story “A Christmas Memory” at the back, you’ll see what I mean.
Whom do you like to read? Whom am I missing? Leave your comments below!