August 8, 2019
A shortlist of my favorite writers. The ones I aspire to become.
You could call my taste in reading material a bit scattered. I thought I would dedicate today’s writing piece to the writers I admire. These minds taught me much of how to wield the English language, be it for bizarre tales of fiction or humorous retellings of real-life. I present to you, dear reader, a list of my greatest hits.
Best nonfiction writers on this docket: Mary Roach and Malcolm Gladwell
Mary is the investigative reporter I wish to become. Her humor in dissecting the subjects of science I get riled up about is unmatched in the genre. She knows how to talk to people and represent them in her bodies of work and her research skills into these often overlooked subjects makes for the best reading.
Books from her I recommend include but are not limited to: Packing for Mars, Stiff, and Gulp.
As for Malcolm, well, it’d be difficult to find any American-born high school student who hasn’t read The Tipping Point. I was not of an age to appreciate The Tipping Point when it first crossed my path but picked it up once more after entering adulthood. The guy’s got a knack for putting human behavior and sociological principles into a narrative that slays. His words keep you turning page after page for hours, absorbing his observations whilst simultaneously asking yourself “why didn’t I think of that?” A real treat.
My all-time favorite work of his, though? The collection of articles he wrote for The New Yorker. I swear he could make any mundane story into a tear jerker if you let him. I swear that guy….
Books from him you must read: The Tipping Point, obviously, Outliers, What the Dog Saw
Best science fiction writers I’ve encountered thus far: Philip K. Dick and Cixin Liu
I finished the epic science fiction series written by the Chinese author, Cixin Liu, this summer. An eye-opening experience that altered my own opinions on life and society, Liu gave me a story unlike any other. The novel perspective of a Chinese mind and the great challenges of digesting the heavy science that awaited me on his books many pages left me stunned when I reached the end. The themes and consequences he tackles in his three-part series still weigh on me today and may now be permanent fixtures in my mind. Reading his books made me want to scream with rage and frustration at times and I loved EVERY minute of that ride.
Books from him you ABSOLUTELY HAVE to read: The Three Body Problem, The Dark Forest, Death’s End, in that order please.
Apart from this new flame, the tried and true sci-fi writer I love to pieces is one Philip K. Dick. His novels take themes from his own life story and project them years into the future. Though the world is alien to his readers, the trials his characters face are all too familiar. He’s got one hell of a narrative voice as well– the type that is not often encountered and not often done well. I swear, A Scanner Darkly in particular is one hell of a mindfuck. Read it.
Many of his books went on to become Sci-Fi classic movies but, as always, the novels are a better way to spend your time.
Books from him I need to reread that you should also read: A Scanner Darkly, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep (BladeRunner), The Man in the High Castle
The writers with the voices I can’t get enough of: Chuck Palahniuk and Jim Lewis
Yo… if you ever get your hands on a Chuck Palahniuk novel… think twice before diving in. This man has the darkest and most twisted mind to ever grace the pages of American novels. Somehow, I cannot get enough of them. He pokes fun at everything that should be poked fun at from narcissism and fashion to narcissism and the aspiration to be famous. No one is safe from his scathing criticisms of modern society, especially his fellow artists. The best part is that the way he writes his critiques are so strange that the situations themselves are hilarious reads.
Check these out but I warn you, they aren’t very nice: Invisible Monsters, Survivor, Haunted (amazing)
Jim Lewis has only two novels to choose from. I myself only read one of the two when I happened upon it during a trip south. I wasn’t expecting much from the short novel I found in one of those free libraries in downtown Naples but was surprised by the sheer beauty of the words I read. Jim Lewis has the language of a poet; the sentences he spins are of the highest degree of English beauty. I read and reread passages from his book just to fall back into the grace and simplicity he wields with no effort at all. I aspire to write as beautifully as him one day but will settle for revisiting him often until I can. Read him and fall in love, seriously.
THEE book to read by this dude: Why the Tree Loves the Ax
The writer with the greatest (but also the biggest bummers) novels: Margaret Atwood
Like, damn, Margaret. Her novels go by in heartbeats thanks to the style she uses. Her stories are of great interest; tackling ideas and conceptual futures that lean far into dystopian than the other way around. Even so, there are many lessons to be learned from her words and the language she uses. She is one of the greats for sure.
Best downer novel series by her: Oryx and Crake, The Year of the Flood, MadAddam
And there you have it, readers. A full list of the authors that make up most of my style. It is an honor to have access to their work and thus I would be failing you all if I didn’t dedicate a day of this challenge to peddling their works. Without them, I doubt I could form half the sentences I’m able to.
So, thanks for that.