Friday, September 03, 2010

Top 5 Writers I Admire & Why

Continuing my Top 5 series I started HERE (based loosely on WD's Top 10 in the current issue):

Top 5 Writers I Admire, and Why

1) Barbara Kingsolver
She is a true word smith, an artist. Her characters are deep and layered. Her plots are complex. And her language . . . dang, there are times reading The Poisonwood Bible where I reread paragraphs just to experience the beauty again, to roll the words around in my head. After finishing it, I put the book down half elated, half depressed because it was so good . . . and I'd never be that good.

But she's given me a level to shoot for. Even if I never make it, at least I'm shooting high and will get higher than I would have otherwise.

I admire writers who care about the craft and not just about getting published. Bestsellers sometimes sit on their laurels and let the craft slide a bit, knowing that their name will sell copies no matter what's inside the covers. Writers like Kingsolver don't do that.

2) Jodi Piccoult
I haven't read all her books, but every one I have read has done two things: 1) moved me and 2) made me think. Neither is easy to accomplish, but she excels at both. Like Kingsolver, but in a different way, her voice and words are beautiful.

I also love how she finds seemingly random topics to write about and researches them. It's the epitome of writer curiosity (and justifies my fascination with weird research topics).

3) Charles Dickens
My senior course as an English major was on him, so I spent an entire semester digging into his works, including some of his lesser-known ones (like Dombey and Son and Our Mutual Friend). I love watching how he changed as a writer over the course of his career. I love his vivid characters. How he manages to make big social and moral statements without preaching. Instead, he makes the reader feel in the injustice or the hate.

4) Jane Austen
Brilliant humorist who could poke fun at the specific period of and society she lived in while creating timeless characters and stories. The nerdy English major in me also loves how she deliberately poked fun at the two literary periods she straddled. (One of these days I'll blog about that. And some future day, I will visit her home and see her writing desk!)

5) L. M. Montgomery
Obviously. My love of her work began at the age of thirteen. My interest in her as a person grew as her journals were compiled, annotated, and published over the course of many years. My admiration, compassion, and, yes, even pity, for her developed as I read them. She was very flawed, very human. But she was also exceedingly talented and faced big challenges. Arguably, she's had the greatest influence on me as a writer than anyone else.

Who are some of the writers you admire most? Why?


Rebecca Irvine said...

I read Poisonwood Bible for book club but found it to be too depressing. I could tell Kingsolver was a good writer, but found it a disappointment she would apply her tremdous talent to a story so downtrodden. As for the other writers you mention, I so agree they are great.

Susan Anderson said...

I love Chaim Potok and Rosamunde Pilcher.


Lara Neves said...

You know, I can't read Picoult anymore because of her dang twisty endings. They make me SO ANGRY every time. Although, I do agree that no author has made me see every side of a situation before quite like she has. Sometimes I really had to rethink my value system reading her books.

I enjoy all the others on your list, and it reminds me that I haven't read any Kingsolver in a long while.

Heidi said...

I haven't read Kingsolver but the way you describe her words is how I feel about Patricia McKillip (a fantasy novelist). Every word she writes is a poem.

Shelley said...

One of my favorites is Amy Tan. I just love her complex stories and female relationships.

Elisa said...

Barbara Kingsolver is one of my all time favorite writers. She really is a wordsmith.

Jodi Picoult is my other favorite. I love reading her books because, as weird as it sounds, they stress me out and they NEVER end the way I think they are going to. I love that!

Kimberly Vanderhorst said...

I've only read 3 out of those 5. Time to broaden my reading horizons again, methinks.

I would add Maeve Binchy. Such a master story weaver.

Donna Tagliaferri said...

this will be so odd, but I loved Leon Uris,,,,I was obsessed with him in, I know this is odd, middle school. I read everything he wrote and then researched everything he wrote about. Which made me such an odd kid...but middle school is odd so it worked. Everything I learned from that research followed me through my life, I know more about religion and politics because of those sad, interesting, fascinating books

Stephanie said...

Numbers 3, 4, and 5 are among my favorite perhaps I should try reading some of the works by #1 and #2 too? :)

Sarah M Eden said...

Let me know when you are headed to England to see Jane's house (we're on a first name basis, you know). I'm pretty sure I could fit into your luggage, then I can go too!!

Julie Wright said...

The Book Thief, by Markus Zusak. I walked away from that book a better person for having read it. His words were beautiful--each page had to be consumed in small bites so as not to miss any of the flavors.

ANother author who tops my list right now is Suzanne Collins. Her prose is poetry and stays with me long after the final page has been turned.

Annette Lyon said...

Sarah, We should plan a trip to England. At least in our dreams. :)

Julie, I've read I Am the Messenger by Zuzak (LOVED IT), but still need to read The Book Thief. I've heard so many good things about it.


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