zen habits : breathe

7 Current Writers I’m In Love With

“Time moves in one direction, memory in another.” - William Gibson

I love to read. And I especially love to read good writers, people who are in love with the written word, who can tell great stories, create characters I want to be best friends with, invent new worlds that I can inhabit for a few days.

It’s by reading these writers that I realize what is possible as a writer myself. They bring my imagination alive.

I can curl up with a good book and get lost in it. I finish such a book with regret, and stare at the author’s picture and wonder what kind of a person can create like this.

And while I adore writers of the past, from Fitzgerald to Vonnegut, from Salinger to Shakespeare, from Dostoyevsky to Cervantes, from Homer to Joyce … there is a current batch of writers I’ve fallen in love with. I have to admit it. They’ve captured my heart and don’t seem to want to relinquish it.

Btw, if anyone knows any of these authors, please tell them I’d like to interview them or chat with them. Wouldn’t it be amazing if they read my blog? I highly doubt it, but a blogger can dream, can’t he?

“When Mister Safety Catch Is Not On, Mister Crossbow Is Not Your Friend.” - Detritus learns about weapons safety (Terry Pratchett, Night Watch)

These are just my current favorites. There are many, many other great writers out there — I’m not good at keeping up with the latest and greatest. But I thought I’d share, just to get the discussion going.

  1. William Gibson. I can’t get enough of this guy. His writing is just so cool. Known as the father of cyberpunk, Gibson creates gritty worlds filled with technology that just seem real, and bittersweet stories that I can’t put down. His work is like poetry. It started with Neuromancer and that first trilogy, continued with the excellent Bridge trilogy (starting with Virtual Light and ending in the excellent All Tomorrow’s Parties), and is now in the futuristic world of the present (with Pattern Recognition and Spook Country). All recommended.
  2. Jonathan Lethem. I’m currently working my way through his work. Motherless Brooklyn was just a great, great book — filled with fascinating characters, including a lead character who didn’t fit the bill of hero in any sense, but works perfectly. I just finished the excellent Gun, with Occasional Music (sci-fi blended with Chandleresque hard-boiled detective fiction) and am currently enjoying You Don’t Love Me Yet. This guy is a brilliant writer, perhaps the best on this list.
  3. Ann Patchett. I can’t say enough good things about her. Bel Canto was one of the most beautiful books I’ve read in years, and I’ve read and loved every one of her other books except one. I wish I could write as well as her. She creates amazing characters, puts them in exceptional situations that show their true nature. Run, Patron Saint of Liars, The Magician’s Assistant, Truth & Beauty — I recommend all of them.
  4. John Grisham. He’s a bit of a guilty pleasure for me. Grisham’s not fine literature, but I won’t apologize — I love reading his books. He just knows how to tell a good story. I’ve read just about all of his books, and they’re all page-turners. I don’t have a favorite: The Appeal, The Partner, The Broker, The Brethren, The Street Lawyer, all good.
  5. Terry Pratchett. One of the funniest guys I’ve ever read (Douglas Addams is just above him), Pratchett takes the realm of fantasy and injects a wonderful sense of humor. I’m a particular fan of Captain Vimes and Lip von Moistwick books. From The Color of Magic to the more recent Making Money, Thud!, and Going Postal, all excellent.
  6. Nick Hornby. Gosh, what can I say about Hornby? He writes great books that turn into excellent movies. High Fidelity? John Cusak remade it faithfully (aside from moving it from London to Chicago) and captured its brilliants perfectly. Fever Pitch dissects the obsession of a true soccer fan like no other book (the movie didn’t quite do it justice). How to Be Good was wonderful too. I’m making my way through a couple of his other books (including About a Boy and A Long Way Down), but I just love Hornby.
  7. J.K. Rowling. I’m reading the last Harry Potter book (the Deathly Hallows) with my 14-year-old daughter, as we’ve read every previous book together since she was a little child (starting with the Sorcerer’s Stone. She grew up with Harry Potter. I’m also making my way through the books a second time with my 10-year-old son — we’re on the sixth book, the Half-Blood Prince. I know these are kids books, but it’s just an amazing series.

“The natural state of the football fan is bitter disappointment, no matter what the score.” - Nick Hornby

Who are the authors you love? Let us know in the comments.

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