1: Victor Hugo
Unlike a lot of classic lit. fans, I am not overly infatuated with Les Misérables. I started to read it, but only read a small portion of the book and I haven’t made it through the musical yet. But when I needed some advice about writing a death scene, I read the last chapters of Les Misérables, hoping for a good model to follow. It was so poetic, but at the same time, concise, almost austere. Like a combination of Ernest Hemingway and L. M. Montgomery. I’ve heard that Hugo can be dreary and long-winded, but I think he’s worth a try anyway. Though, maybe I’ll start with something shorter, like The Hunchback of Notre Dame.
2: Flannery O’Connor
Eight months ago, I thought Flannery O’Connor was an old man from Ireland. Now, nearly everything I read about books or literature mentions this decidedly young female author from Georgia. I suppose what draws me to O’Connor is the fact that she was able to write openly and honestly about her faith but she was such an expert author that even secular critics had to praise her. I would like to bring some of that to my writing, which is why I want to read her works. Plus, she wrote in the Southern Gothic genre, the same genre to which To Kill a Mockingbird belongs. I’ve been wanting to read more from that genre ever since reading TKM the first time.
3: Ernest Hemingway
I very narrowly escaped reading The Old Man and the Sea in eleventh grade (the curriculum was changed to assign To Kill a Mockingbird instead, a change which, of course, I am quite grateful for). To hear my fellow readers talk about him, Hemingway is apparently to literature what Alfred Hitchcock was to film. I’d like to see if I find him that brilliant.
4: Mark Twain
Because I really think I should read The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn before it gets banned for good.
5: Thomas Wolfe
I know virtually nothing about this author. The only reason I added him to the list is because I am about to turn nineteen and according to Ray Bradbury, my unofficial writing mentor, Wolfe is a good author to read when you are nineteen.
6: G. K. Chesterton
I first heard about Chesterton sometime last year. In my Bible class at school, I was assigned to choose one of C. S. Lewis’s books on apologetics and write a paper about it. While doing research for the paper, I came across an article which mentioned that one of the authors who impacted Lewis the most was G. K. Chesterton. Not knowing who this Chesterton fellow was, I started reading up on him and found out that he was a nineteenth-century novelist, poet, and Christian apologist who was, in many ways, the prototype of Lewis. Since first hearing about Chesterton in that article, I’ve heard several famous writers and thinkers invoke the name of G. K. Chesterton, especially when listing favorite authors. I’ve been saying for nearly a year that I was going to read something by Chesterton, but to this day, I still haven’t managed to finish one of his books. I started to read The Man Who Was Thursday I-don’t-remember-when, but was quickly sidetracked by other books. I feel as though I’m not a true book geek at all because I still have never read anything by the man some consider one of the best writers who ever lived, so someday soon, I’ll have to try him.
7: Alexandre Dumas
As in the case of many authors, I’ve seen the movies, but have never read the books. Dumas’s books sound quite different from my usual fare, so when I’m ready for a change of pace, I might try him.
8: Sir Walter Scott
Walter Scott is in the same boat as Dumas: his books are a far cry from the books I usually read, which makes me curious about them.
9: Elie Wiesel
I was one of the few high schoolers who graduated without having read Wiesel’s memoir Night. I intend to read this book some day, but having heard some of Wiesel’s speeches and lectures from the past, I think I would like to read some of his other works too (the less terrifying ones). Something about the way he speaks makes him seem as though he would be an interesting author. In some cases, you can tell that a person is a writer just by how they talk: they’re more original than most people; they aren’t afraid to say things that might come across as odd to the casual listener; they frame things in a way you would have never expected. Wiesel speaks much the same way, which makes me curious to see how he writes.
Have you read any of these authors? Did you like them? Who are the authors you haven’t tried yet but want to?