Monday, February 25, 2013

Top Ten Authors That I'd Put On My Auto-Buy List

The Broke and the Bookish invites us today to share our top ten authors--authors we love so much that we would buy anything new they wrote, no questions asked.  Here are some of mine:

Irene Nemirovsky
Russia and France in the early twentieth century are the vividly evoked backdrops of her stories about family, maternal, and romantic relationships and histories.  Most of her books seem to have strongly autobiographical elements, and it's hard to read them without her own tragic life in the back of my mind.

Primo Levi
This author wrote very eloquently about his experiences in Auschwitz, but he also wrote many collections of short stories, which are wonderfully humane and creative.  I've read what is available in English in the US, but there are more not published here and/or untranslated that I'd love to get hold of.

Jared Diamond
An anthropologist who wrote the fascinating Guns, Germs, and Steel, Collapse, and The Third Chimpanzee.  His new book, The World Until Yesterday, is out in hardcover, but I'm waiting for the paperback.

Vikram Seth
Not only would I, but will I, order his next book as soon as it comes out:  he is rumored to be writing a sequel to A Suitable Boy.  Can. not. wait.
Isak Dinesen
Dinesen's stories are layered, often one inside another.  Her themes are usually gothic, occasionally supernatural.  Her settings are always moody, storm-swept, nineteenth-century Europe.  Almost everything I love to sit down on a gray day with.

Ursula LeGuin
One of the very few fantasy/sci fi writers I enjoy.  Her Lavinia is an especial favorite of mine.  Her novels usually explore themes of displacement and alienation, of societies widely separated in time and space.  Not every one of them works for me, but they're unfailingly interesting and I would always try a new one.

Edward Said
A Palestinian-American professor at Columbia University who wrote passionately but by no means uncritically about the Palestinian people, their history, and the suffering and choices they now face.  He has been described as their most powerful voice.  Both eloquent and scholarly. 

M. R. James
He wrote the kind of ghost stories which I consider absolutely perfect--the kind often called "cozy."  Often with a scholarly setting or narrator, and a ghost with its origins in forgotten antiquity.  Gently creepy and sometimes amusing.  There isn't one I didn't enjoy and I only wish there were more coming.

Jane Austen
My first love in classic literature.  I've read all of her books, a few many times.  Her razor-sharp observation of her social class, seasoned with dry wit, is a pure pleasure to read.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Essay Reading Challenge


Well, here's another challenge that will allow me to read books I already own.  Carrie at Books and Movies is offering the Essay Challenge.   Here are the rules:
Welcome to the fifth annual Essay Reading Challenge! If you’re an avid essay reader, or just want to expand your reading horizons a bit, this is the challenge for you. If you’re thinking, “What would I read?” – check out this post: Recommended Reading for the Essay Challenge – and “Why read essays?”

~ This challenge runs from January 1, 2013 through December 31, 2013.
~ If you read a book of essays, that book can also apply to any other challenges you are working on.
~ To sign up, choose a goal of reading 10, 20, or 30 essays, and then write a challenge post.
~ Copy your challenge post’s link into the Mr. Linky on this main challenge page.
~ You don’t have to list your essays ahead of time – just have fun reading throughout the year.
~ This main challenge page will stay in my header for the whole year. Come back and link any reviews you write.
I'm going to commit to ten essays, although I'll probably read lots more, as I have on my TBR list two essay collections--one by George Orwell and one by Vaclav Havel.