26 February 2013

Which living author would I love?

Twitter gives and it takes. On the one hand it has connected me with some really interesting people, on the other hand it has the potential to take up time that I should use for reading. So far, I mainly tweet while watching TV so I guess that is good mutitasking.

Perhaps the best part is that bookish people seem to love Twitter. I am amazed at how quickly one can make "friends" using the platform, much faster than Facebook or blogging. Among those I have already "met" is a DC author who has her first novel coming out this spring from Penguin.

So this morning Melissa (@AvidReader12) posted a provocative line that drew me to her blog Avid Reader's Musings. She made a list of the top 10 living authors whose books she would buy without question and without fail. (I haven't used the word meme because I know it annoys many of you...but if it looks like a duck and quack likes a duck...)

I decided to compile my list. Not surprisingly, I had a bit of hard time. I read so many authors who are no longer with us that I have sorely neglected the century in which we live. Even my list of live authors is a bit long in the tooth.

After looking at my list, perhaps you could let me know who I should add. Which living author am I missing out on? I really feel the need for some new blood. Like a corporation doing succession planning, I need to build up a back bench who can fill in when some of my favorites stop writing.

1. Anita Brookner (I think she may have already stopped)

2. Ann Patchett

3. Maggie O'Farrell

4. Margaret Atwood

5. Ward Just

6. Joshua Ferris

7. Tom Wolfe


9. Ruth Reichl

10. Norman Lebrecht

I would like to add an honorary 11th postion and give it to Carol Shields, an author I used to buy without fail. But then she passed away far too young from breast cancer.

So, whom do I need to discover? (or is it "who"? I have tried to understand this grammar rule but so far it hasn't sunk in.)

Also, in case you are so inclined you can follow me on Twitter @Thomasatmyporch . I really need to figure out how to add the buttons to my blog. So far I have been unsuccessful.

[UPDATE: Talk about poor proofreading, I listed Joshua Ferris twice.  I have a group of others that could potentially make the list, but since I don't race out to get their latest, nor have I finished their backlists, I am going to leave them off and leave the spot blank.]


  1. Stewart O'Nan is one you should check out. I don't think he gets nearly the attention he deserves. Last Night at the Lobster is one of my all-time favorite books.

  2. Hi! I just followed you on twitter - isn't it awesome how quickly you can meet fellow book lovers on there. It seems like there is always something to chat about on twitter regarding books - I love it! As for adding to your list. Hmmm. I would add Haruki Murakami, Yoko Ogawa, and Jhumpa Lahiri - they are AMAZING writers!! Oh and of course my friend Kris Williamson (he just published his first book which I'm about to read and love). Hope you discover some new fabulous reads!!

  3. You used "whom" correctly. :)

    And I was so excited to see you on Twitter. I think, for me, it adds another dimension to the person behind the blog. I probably tweet far too much (and not always about books), but I love the conversations there. I even have a film club made up of mostly bloggers, and we watch films together on Saturday nights from time to time.

    As for the question at hand, I am woefully bad at keeping track and reading backlists. I do love Toni Morrison's work, though "love" is not quite the right word for her writing. I do find they effect me very strongly, however. Sula was actually part of my MA thesis analysis. But even then, I haven't read all of her work. Same with Sarah Waters. On the whole, I've thoroughly enjoyed her books, but I haven't read them all either.

    I do this with dead authors - Hemingway, Charlotte Bronte, Raymond Carver, but that's about it. Interesting.

  4. I posted my list today, too. We have Ann Patchett in common. I agree with Amy - you should check out Stewart O'Nan!

  5. Have you tried William Boyd? I am completely besotted with him at the moment.

  6. Very intrigued by your list; I have never heard of Maggie O'Farrell, Ward Just, Joshua Ferris or Norman Lebrecht.

    If I were to make such a list, Sarah Waters would be on it. I liked but didn’t love her debut novel, Tipping the Velvet, but have loved her four subsequent books (and she is young - under 50).

    I would also include Jane Harris (adored both her two books published thus far) and Kate Atkinson (love the Jackson Brodie series and I have also enjoyed her non-Brodie novels Behind the Scenes at the Museum and Emotionally Weird).

    Lastly, let me second Harriet’s suggestion of William Boyd. I adored Any Human Heart and liked Restless and he has a large back catalogue for me to explore.

  7. I would say Rose Tremain. Every one in a different time and setting*, every one hiding her phenomenal research well in the story. If you've never read her, you are in for a treat.

    * Just remembered her last book 'Merivel' is a follow-on to 'Restoration', set in the England of Charles II.

  8. Ruthiella already mentioned two of the authors I thought of right away: Sarah Waters and Kate Atkinson. Although I haven't completely caught up with either of their (modest) backlists, I'll read whatever they write. Marilynne Robinson would be on my list too.

    Surely I can think of a male author to include as well. Maybe Stephen King, although I never feel a sense of urgency about reading his books, as his work is uneven and I have so much of his backlist yet to read. But I don't think you'd love Stephen King.

  9. I know that Penelope Lively is one of these authors for me. And Alexander McCall Smith, despite his popular appeal -- I read everything. I haven't really considered who would make up a top ten list like this one for myself; will have to ponder.

  10. Amy: A totally new author for me. Will definitely check him out.

    Nadia: I once tried a Murakami and had trouble getting into it. I will try again some time in the future.

    Picky: I find Toni Morrison challenging to read. I like her, but her books aren't must reads for me. Sarah Waters is someone I have been meaning to check out.

    JoAnn: That is two for Stewart O'Nan.

    Harriet: I haven't. Good idea.

    Ruthiella: All good to check out for various reasons. Lebrecht is mainly a very opinionated classical music critic but he has written two novels. The first one with a musical theme, the second one though is even better. O'Farrell is marvelous and easy to read. Ward Just writes impeccable novels about politics, diplomacy, military, etc. Joshua Ferris has so far only written two novels so far and they are nothing like each other. His first is one that people either love or hate. And it has my favorite opening line of all time: "We were fractious and overpaid."

    Serenknitity: Is Rose Tremain still alive?

    Teresa: I have Kate Atkinson on my shelf so that works for me. I read one Robinson and didn't really enjoy the experience. But I probably need to try again.

    Melwyk: I love Penelope Lively. But I am taking my time through her back catalog. I like to keep her novels in reserve for the proverbial rainy day. I liked the one Smith book I read, but I fear he is too prolific for me--I wouldn't have time to read anything else.

  11. I read a decent sample of living authors but find a lot of them miss my auto-buy list because there's stuff I want to skip - I just discovered Kate Atkinson but won't want to read her detective stuff, was into Jeanette Winterson but then she wrote a book for kids - it means I auto-buy but selectively, after reading the blurb. :)

    That said I really love Umberto Eco, have just discovered George Saunders' short stories and I'd happily buy, discuss and argue over any of James Wood's literary criticism books.

  12. For me Paul Auster (who can be hard to love), Annie Proulx and Iain Banks's (mainstream as opposed to his Iain M Banks SF novels), are automatic must buys. Atwood would probably make my list too off yours. I've never heard of Ward Just or Ruth Reichl though - will have to investigate them

  13. Alex: I totally agree with you, that is why some authors didn't make the list.

    Gaskella: I would add Paul Auster to the list, I love his newer stuff, but I am not sure how I feel about his early stuff.

  14. I second the vote for Kate Atkinson, and think you should also give Emily Arsenault a try.


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