Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Top Ten Tuesday, Oct 5

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish.

This week's Top Ten Tuesday is our favorite authors.

How to limit myself to ten?! This is worse than the top ten couples! Can I include Anonymous?! In seriousness, though, my top ten is literally my top ten of today, and I guarantee I'll feel differently later!

Diana Abu-Jaber: Start with her autobiography Language of Baklava because it's poignant and hilarious and includes very, very delicious recipes. Her novels are marvelous, too -- Crescent has some of the sexiest food descriptions I've ever read.

L.M. Alcott: What can I say about Alcott that's original?  Nothing.  I love her 'blood-and-thunder' tales the best, like A Long Fatal Love Chase, but I do have a sentimental soft spot for Eight Cousins

Djuna Barnes: First, she has a fabulous name (the 'd' is silent), and secondly, she lived a horrifically sad life and wrote painfully repulsively scathing novels and plays.  I highly recommend the Phillip Herring biography about her. 

H.D. (Hilda Doolittle): A novelist and poet, H.D. is sadly quite forgotten, although her work is being reintroduced by a variety of small presses.  She combines mythology and religion with the real sexiness of life early 20th century Paris.

Louise DeSalvo: A Virginia Woolf scholar, I first stumbled upon Ms DeSalvo through her book Writing as a Way to Healing, which not only introduced me to a myriad of fabulous authors but also taught me a great deal about writing.  After that, Conceived With Malice showed me that writing as revenge could also be therapeutic!

Isak Dinesen/Karen Blixen: Most everyone knows of Baroness Blixen from the Meryl Streep/Robert Redford film Out of Africa, which is very pretty and rather romantic.  All of her writing is infused with that sort of bittersweet sense of potential and loss, I think, but the best intro to her is still Out of Africa.

Dashiell Hammett: The only guy on my list!  He's a long standing literary crush of mine (I even have the Time Life picture of him being questioned by McCarthy on my bedroom wall!) and the author of some of my all-time favorite desert island picks.  Pick up The Maltese Falcon (then see the movie!) and see how sexy he is!

Doris Lessing: I hesitate to call her a favorite author because her books literally make me ill.  The Children of Violence series featuring Martha Quest are so vivid and well-articulated that I feel sick from the repressive atmosphere that Martha struggles through.  But that's what makes them so awesome, and why I keep reading and reading over again.
Penelope Lively: I haven't come across a Lively novel I didn't adore; the plots by now are all a bit similar, but for me, that's often the appeal.  Married couples moving on, survivors of World War II, British ex-pats, archaeology, sense of place -- these are the topics she returns to, and I think she's brilliant at it.

Anaïs Nin: My feelings about Nin have changed as I've grown up; as a teenager and college student, I was so very enamored of her but more and more, I see how selfish and damaging she was.  Still, her writing is lyrical and poetic, elusive and exciting, and I always dip into her when I need a verbal perk-me-up.

Sigrid Nunez: I know absolutely nothing about Ms Nunez but I've gobbled up every novel of hers.  From what I've seen, her books are about those who survived the '60s and '70s, how they've dealt with the decisions made in those tumultuous times.  The Last of Her Kind might be another top ten desert island pick.


  1. I think you are out of my league. I haven't heard of several of these authors (which I'm sure I shouldn't confess)but I did read Abu-Jaber's Crescent and adored it. We had the best book club with that book. I like the look of your pictures.how did you make them look like photos in an album?

  2. What a beautiful list. I love that you added photos. Based on your favorite authors I can tell that I definitely want to follow your blog! I was pleasantly surprised to see Karen Blixen and Anais Nin.

  3. @Anne: confess away! ;) A few of these authors are pretty obscure -- I crushed on Lit majors in college, what can I say? I wish I could take credit for the pictures, but Blogger just framed them like that for me. It's a pretty effect!

    @IngridLola: Thank you and thank you! And thank you! ;) I went back-and-forth about Nin but ultimately, I love her, both her diaries and her novels. More so than some of the others on my list (who were eventually cut). Sometime I might try a Top 20, just to torture myself! ;)

  4. What a fabulous list! I love Djuna Barnes--Heck, I love your whole list! I'm so glad I found your blog through Top Ten Tuesday. I have read most of Lessing, but not her sci fi novels. If you like Hammet, then you must like Chandler too. I love the stylishness of noir.

  5. Great list! But i must admit some of these Authors names went right over my head! Maybe i should check them out :)

  6. Great list. I like all the authors on you list that I am familiar with, and will check out the rest.

  7. Having graduated with a degree in English, I'm ashamed to say that I have not heard of a single one of these authors. I'll have to start reading your blog so that you can clue me in on all this literature that I've been missing!

  8. @Bibliphiliac: thank you! I love noir! Have you read any Megan Abbott? She's new to me but very good.

    @Lu: Which ones? I could enthuse more if you'd like! ;)

    @Bibliophile: Thank you! and let me know if you do read one of them -- I'd love to know what you'd think!

    @Jennifer: Don't be ashamed!! -- a few of them are really really obscure and others just less well known. There are tons of people I don't read who are probably better known -- too many books and not enough time, etc.