Today, the The Broke and the Bookish is asking for top ten authors I’m dying to meet/can’t believe I’ve met. Well, I’ve never met any, and I’ve always held onto the belief that it is probably best not to meet your idols.
So instead I had a think about the authors that I wish were still here and writing…
1. Laura Ingalls Wilder
I LOVED the Little House series. There was something so immersive and magical about it. I remember being truly fascinated by her descriptions of the simple (making candy out of molassas on snow) and the complex (building a log cabin), and the love she had for her family always really shone through. I cried when Laura got married and left home, not only because she was leaving girlhood behind, but because I knew there were no more books to be read.
2. Betty MacDonald
The Egg and I is one of my favourite books. MacDonald didn’t live a particularly exotic life – most of her autobiographical books cover the everyday and the mundane, but I love her dry sense of humour and found her stories both fascinating and hilarious. I discovered her through her children’s books about Mrs Piggle Wiggle, which are also awesome. I continue to read them to my son who also thinks they are great, 70 years after she wrote them.
3. Truman Capote
If you have never read In Cold Blood, a) where have you been? and b) go and sort that out immediately. It’s epic. But that aside, his other work is so beautiful – simple but complex. I wish there was more of it.
4. Roald Dahl
James and the Giant Peach was first published in 1961. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory in 1964. But they don’t seem to have aged at all. They are still the go-to choice for parents the world over. My son loves them, and it’s kind of sad that he’s read them all now (with the exception of the Witches, because he’s a bit of a scardy cat). I think I was about 8 when Matilda was published, and I can remember the fuss of it hitting the shops. It’s a shame that won’t happen again.
5. John Steinbeck
I will admit, I haven’t read all of his books. I haven’t even read a quarter of them. But those I have read, I have loved. And one day I will have no new unread Steinbeck books to enjoy for the first time.
6. Peter O’Donnell
For those of you who don’t know who Peter O’Donnell is, he was the author behind the Modesty Blaise comic strip which ran in the Evening Standard between 1963 and 2001. He also wrote 13 novels and short story collections based on the character, which are some of my favourite books of all time. If ever I have reading fatigue – after a lengthy series or a high brow ‘classic’ I often re-read Modesty. She’s like meeting up with an old friend, who rejuvenates and revitalises you. I’ve read them all several times over. I wish there were more.
7. E.B. White
I think Charlotte’s Web might possibly be the most perfect book ever. Nothing could come as close, but it would be good if there were a few more of his children’s books to look forward to.
8. A.A. Milne
Who doesn’t love Winnie the Pooh? They don’t write books like that anymore. Sometimes I feel like my boys are going to explode, they are so hyped up with superheros, dinosaurs, robots, Pokemon, action, action, action. The Pooh books are so calm and gentle, they are like a cold compress on their little overheated heads. But sadly Pooh’s stories are limited, and there are only so many times you can read about Pooh dangling from a blue balloon, without wishing Milne were still alive to provide us with a few more tales.
9. Carson McCullers
Another America South author I admire a lot. She suffered from depression and loneliness, and even attempted suicide in 1947 – all of this emotion and isolation comes through in her writing. She was only 50 when she died and only completed 4 novels.
10. Betty Smith
The author of the magnificent A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, which I love. I’ve only read one of her other books (Joy in the Morning) which was a little saccharined, but A Tree Grows is just about perfect.