No, I don’t know everything, but yes, I do know some authors. Trust me, you’ll be better off having read these.
1. Madeleine L’Engle. She might sound familiar to you for A Wrinkle In Time (which, not coincidentally frequently finds itself on the list of most banned books). I’m a particular fan of An Unacceptable Time (the culmination of the time series) and A House Like A Lotus (which was actually my first exposure to M.L. )
2. Jane Austen. Oh come on, you knew this had to be on the list. Just read Pride and Prejudice. You won’t be sorry. If you’re one of the guys I work with who think Jane’s either too far above you/beneath you? Just read, and do everything D’Arcy does. Trust me. And then thank me.
3. Ian Fleming. Read the books. No, don’t say, “but I’ve seen the movies!”. Read. The. Books.
4. David Quammen. Want to know a little of the world you live in? Read David Quammen. The guy explains natural science in a way that any idiot can understand (and that’s this idiot’s opinion). You’ll have a better understanding of the natural world and a greater appreciation for the fact that you;re still alive in it.
5. J.G. Ballard. I’m a huge fan of The Drowned World, which is classified as sci-fi, but is really more about the psychological breakdown of the human mind. Also, it’s a chilling reminder that we never truly escape certain moments of our past – we just keep reliving them. (Oh, and please note that it’s about global warming – 50 years before there was such a notion as global warming)
6. Dorothy Sayers. What can’t that woman do? Her translation of The Divine Comedy is one of the most accessible ever done – it makes Dante’s concepts understandable (a feat, since most translators focus of the poetry rather and the context). Oh, and as mentioned to a couple of college guys I knew in 1987 who thought that Lord Peter was a bit of a ponce, “Hello, dumbasses? these girls are telling you, in detail, what they want. Shouldn’t you be taking notes or something?”
7. Mark Twain. The moment in Hucklberry Finn when Huck says, “alright then, I’ll go to hell” because he’s willing to sacrifice his soul just to be friends with Jim is probably the greatest moment in American literature we’ve ever seen. At some point, with luck, the country will realize it.
8. Robert Browning. Just read My Last Duchess. Read it several thousand times. I think I have. It’s beautiful and frightening and beautiful.
9. Antony Beevor . Stalingrad The Fateful Siege was a Valentine’s Day present from husband J. (Yeah, I know what you’re thinking…most girls get flowers or jewelry I get a book about 500,000 people dying in the freezing fucking cold). But it wa one of the best presents I ever got and one of the most amazing books I’ve ever read.
10. Arturo Perez Reverte. The Club Dumas is amazing. No. Do not watch the movie version. I don’t care of Johnny Depp was in it. It is awful and has NO RELATION to the movie. Oh, and pay close attention to Irene. Also, it helps if you’ve read Milton first, but is not essential. In hindsight, having seen Sherlock would help also. You’ll understand after you read. If you don’t, give me a call and we’ll have a drink and I’ll expound. At length.
If you feel like commenting add your two cents and tell me who I need to be reading.