I'm grateful for people who write. I love many, many authors, but for this Thanksgiving holiday, I decided to share my "top ten" list in no particular order:
1. J. K. Rowling: HP fans don’t need an explanation! The magical world Ms. Rowling created will last forever and continue to inspire kids all over the world to love books. Besides, they’re just so much fun to read!
2. Charles Dickens: No one does Victorian angst like he does. Who else but a man who worked in a factory as a child, gluing labels onto bottles of “boot blacking” for ten hours a day could have such compassion for the working poor? Add to that his ability to create timeless stories about human nature, and you have books that will last forever. ‘God bless us, everyone!’
3. Barbara Mertz: Ever heard of her? Perhaps not, but you may have heard of Elizabeth Peters, or Barbara Michaels, her pen names. Ms. Mertz, as herself, wrote a fantastic text book about ancient Egypt that reads like a novel. As Elizabeth Peters, she wrote the Amelia Peabody series of detective novels that never disappoint. As Barbara Michaels, she wrote a series of modern “Gothic” novels, tinged with a bit of paranormal. In those books, she covered topics such as antique quilts and clothing, horticulture, architecture, jewelry and precious stones, etc., and made such possibly dry subjects fascinating. She passed away earlier this year. Rest in peace, Barbara. I will miss you.
4. Alan Bradley: Author of the Flavia de Luce mysteries. Flavia is witty, brilliant, naïve, and adorable at age eleven. She solves mysteries that the adults around her cannot. She raises my eyebrows, makes me laugh, and makes me want to care about chemistry. This series will always, always be a favorite of mine.
5. Suzanne Collins: Say what you want about books that feature kids forced to kill each other in an arena, but “The Hunger Games” series is well written and an obvious protest against oppressive government. These books grab you and don’t let go until you’ve read the last word. Besides, my daughter read all three books within just a few days, then picked up the first book and immediately started all over again. That hasn’t happened before, nor has it happened since.
6. J. R. R. Tolkien: Yes, I read him before the movies! “The Hobbit” was a childhood favorite, and I’ll always remember dreaming that I was in Smaug’s lair, climbing over piles of gold. Enough said.
7. Edgar Allen Poe: So what if he was a little crazy? Aren’t we all? I loved him when I read him in high school, and have always remained fascinated by his work and his life.
8. Stephen King: Don’t judge me. He’s a fantastic writer. Though he has a “potty mouth” and I don’t actually like all of his works, I admire him. His book: “On Writing,” is one of the best books, ahem, “on writing,” that I’ve ever found.
9. Fyodor Dostoyevsky: I loved “Crime and Punishment” for some bizarre reason. I love that horrid book about horrid things, likely because the idea that we are all responsible for our actions and that no one man is above the law, resonates with me. Also because when Dostoyevsky writes, I feel like I’m living in a dank, stinking attic of a room, or wandering the street of St. Petersburg in rags. That guy was good.
10. Jane Austen: Nobody does it better! She wrote brilliant books, all without the aid of a typewriter. Every girl wants to be Lizzie Bennett, and to find her Mr. Darcy. Full of biting social commentary, as well as old-fashioned language and manners that seem amusingly outdated, her books still sell today like crazy.Who would you include in your top ten?