top ten tuesday: favorite authors

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, a fun way to get yourself thinking and sharing about books and bookish things.

April 21: Top ten all-time favorite authors

Great (and TOUGH) topic! What are the qualifications, the number of their books you’ve read? Maybe you’ve only read one book, but it was totally amazing and you can’t wait for their next? An author you will buy and read everything they’ve written? What about their public persona, do you agree with their views and statements? I made this list based on a little bit of all of these. In alphabetical order by last name:

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Margaret Atwood
Roxane Gay
Jon Krakauer
Wally Lamb
Rohinton Mistry

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Michael Pollan
Mary Roach
Lizz Winstead
Cheryl Strayed
Howard Zinn

Couple of childhood favorites: Roald Dahl, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

Honorable mentions: Stephen King, Barbara Kingsolver, Cormac McCarthy, Stewart O’Nan, Lionel Shriver, Colm Tóibín… errgh and others!

Who are your all-time favorite authors?

[Author photos from Goodreads, except Gay and Winstead]

margaret atwood at ku

The inimitable Margaret Atwood was just across the state line at KU giving a free, open-to-the-public lecture on Monday night, and I wouldn’t have missed it for the world! Her lecture was titled “Where Do We Come From? What Are We? Where Are We Going?: The Arts, The Sciences, The Humanities, The Inhumanities, and The Non-Humanities. Zombies Thrown in Extra.” It was fabulous.

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Atwood was personable, with a sharp sense of humor (riffing on the Wicked Witch of the West even… Kansas, natch), often having the audience in stitches. She mentioned her past as an expert in Victorian literature and underwear (!), smoked whale testicles (!!), the sex lives of zombies compared to other monsters like vampires and werewolves (!!!), Katy Perry’s now-infamous left shark, joked about Wikipedia and Twitter, and went on other delightful tangents. Her lecture, though, got to the heart of seemingly obscure yet obvious connections between the arts and sciences. Some of my favorite quotes:

“If art didn’t transmute, there’d be no zombies, and that would make you sad.”

“We came long ago and we came equipped with the arts.”

“Art makes it personal, makes it visceral.”

(after reading a stiff, lengthy definition of “the humanities” on Wikipedia) “The short answer is: the humanities are not rocket science.”

I loved her discussion on why zombies have become so popular in our entertainment culture right now, and also her imaginative explanation of what’s happening in the Gauguin painting from which she took her lecture title (click for image: www.gauguin.org)—that these lovely Tahitian ladies are wondering to themselves which European disease might wipe them out and who is that creepy old dude? Socrates lingering just off-frame. Ha!

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I was early enough to get a fantastic fourth-row seat during the presentation, but that meant I ended up at the end of the line for the book signing… 1100 people deep, the line snaked down a hallway and a stairwell to four floors below. Ouch. I was really worried she’d stop signing after about an hour, and considered giving up—I had an hour drive back home and it was pushing 11 pm by the time I even got to the same floor she was on. But, ultimately I’m glad I stuck it out because I snagged an autograph and a picture.

Oh, and I chose to have her autograph Stone Mattress since it’s her latest publication—that helps me “date” when I saw her, so to speak.

Thank you, Margaret Atwood and KU!

top ten tuesday: 2014 new-to-me authors

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, a fun way to get yourself thinking and sharing about books and bookish things.

December 9: Top ten new-to-me authors I read in 2014

Same as last year (and every year, basically)… I have some tried-and-true favorites, but almost everything I read is by a new author to me! The best new author discoveries I made in 2014, in alphabetical by last name:

Alan Brennert (Moloka’i)
Rene Denfeld (The Enchanted)
Louise Erdrich (The Round House)
Roxane Gay (Bad Feminist)
Hannah Kent (Burial Rites)
Josh Malerman (Bird Box)
David Maraniss (When Pride Still Mattered)
George Packer (The Unwinding)
Jeff VanderMeer (Annihilation)
Sarah Vowell (Assassination Vacation)

What great authors did you discover for the first time in 2014?

top ten tuesday: read-once authors

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, a fun way to get yourself thinking and sharing about books and bookish things.

September 16: Top ten read-once authors

This week’s topic is authors from whom you’ve only read one book, but would like to read more of their work. This was tougher than I expected! Some of the authors I had in mind for this list only have one book published, so I tried to keep it to those who have more out. In no alphabetical order by last name:

  1. Maya Angelou (right?!? read I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings)
  2. Emma Donoghue (read Room)
  3. Herman Koch (read The Dinner, just got Summer House with Swimming Pool)
  4. Rohinton Mistry (read A Fine Balance, have a copy of Family Matters)
  5. Toni Morrison (right again!?? read Beloved)
  6. Jojo Moyes (read Me Before You, The Girl You Left Behind ebook is on my iPad!)
  7. Haruki Murakami (read The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, have Kafka on the Shore)
  8. Richard Preston (read The Hot Zone)
  9. Amy Tan (read The Joy Luck Club)
  10. Jeff VanderMeer (read Annihilation, would love to finish the trilogy!)

Honorable mentions (with book I read): Colm Tóibín (Brooklyn), Kazuo Ishiguro (Never Let Me Go), Khaled Hosseini (The Kite Runner), Alice Munro (Dear Life: Stories), Jess Walter (Beautiful Ruins), Meg Wolitzer (The Interestings), Sarah Vowell (Assassination Vacation)

What authors would be on your list?

top ten tuesday: authors i haven’t read

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, a fun way to get yourself thinking and sharing about books and bookish things.

March 5: Top ten popular authors I haven’t read

I could basically have an entries here for “all authors of The Classics” and “authors of 50 million mysteries/thrillers/courtroom dramas” but that would be boring! Here are ten authors that I haven’t read, in no particular order:

1. Virginia Woolf
This is one that I feel like I have read, although I’ve never owned any of her books, and never read any in school. Maybe because I feel like by now I should have definitely read Woolf? I don’t know, it’s a weird feeling!

2. Anaïs Nin
My mother loaned me Nin’s Diary Vol. I years ago and it sat and sat and sat. Finally during my last move I gave it back to her (oh, the guilt!).

3. Franz Kafka
I’ve had a copy of The Metamorphosis and Other Stories on my shelves for longer than I care to admit (or can remember). If nothing else, I’d at LEAST like to get through The Metamorphosis, the story actually really appeals to me!

4. Michael Chabon
Everyone raves about The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, and I have a copy waiting (put it on my TBR Pile and Eclectic Reader Challenges this year).

5. Louise Erdrich
Last year I bought her The Round House and still haven’t read it! Another one on the “must read” list for 2014 for me.

6. J.K. Rowling
Don’t hate, people! I just have no interest in the Harry Potter series at all.

7. Jane Austen
Another one I’m just not interested in. Nineteenth-century Gothic romance is not my thing, I don’t even want to see the movie versions. It’s going to take a lot of will power to make myself read Brontë’s Wuthering Heights this year for my TBR Pile Challenge.

8. Salman Rushdie
Should I have read Rushdie by now? His genre seems up my alley and I’m a little fascinated by the whole Satanic Verses controversy, but I’m not sure I’m up for the effort (right now, at least).

9. Jodi Picoult
I’m not interested now, but My Sister’s Keeper might have been something I would have liked back in late high school (about 5 years before it was published).

10. Jonathan Franzen
Eh. Again people rave, but the synopses of his books seem bleak in a way that does not appeal to me (sometimes bleak novels appeal! what can I say). Not going to feel badly about not reading Franzen.

What popular authors have you not read yet, or are not interested in?

top ten tuesday: 2013 new-to-me authors

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, a fun way to get yourself thinking and sharing about books and bookish things.

December 17: Top ten new-to-me authors I read in 2013

I read lots of new authors every year—almost everything I read is by a new author to me! Only a few authors have stayed with me that I’ve read more of: Margaret Atwood, Jon Krakauer, etc. But, for 2013 these are the top new authors to me in my reading this year. In no particular order:

  1. Jojo Moyes (Me Before You)
  2. Cheryl Strayed (Wild)
  3. Richard Preston (The Hot Zone)
  4. Teddy Wayne (The Love Song of Jonny Valentine)
  5. David Benioff (City of Thieves)
  6. Meg Wolitzer (The Interestings)
  7. Herman Koch (The Dinner)
  8. Carlos Ruiz Zafón (The Shadow of the Wind)
  9. Lionel Shriver (Big Brother)
  10. Alissa Nutting (Tampa)

What new authors did you “discover” this year?