Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Top 10 Tuesday via Broke and Bookish: Favorite Authors (with gifs)

And it's Tuesday-which means Top 10 Tuesday with the lovely people over at The Broke and the Bookish. Every week, they pick a theme for a top 10 list, and participating bloggers link back. You can find out more here.
This week's top 10-Top 10 Favorite Authors, was excruciating . . .
I know, Emma, I know.
Rather than agonize, grit my teeth, and lament, I decided to list 5 of my favorite "contemporary"* authors and 5 favorite "classic" authors, with two requirements:
  1. I have to have read at least 2 books by them
  2. I have to have reread at least 1 of their books/plays/whatever
Otherwise, this post might have taken me a couple years of re-reading and soul-searching.
But it all seriousness, this is really hard. So no more stalling, here it is:

  1. Classic: J. R. R. Tolkien
  2. Contemporary: Robin McKinley

I put them together because they are two of my earliest reading/writing influences. My dad read The Hobbit to us when we could hardly read ourselves (Thank you Dad!). Though some of the subtleties in Tolkien’s writing certainly escaped me as a kid, the beauty never did. I 100% blame him for my obsession with elves, my fascination with forests, and my dissatisfaction with so much of modernity.

Likewise, when I first read The Hero and the Crown, I was hooked. McKinley’s lovely use of language, her dreamy worlds, and her truly awesome heroines are still my favorite. As a teenager, I felt like her characters “got” me.

3. Classic: William Shakespeare
4. Contemporary: Neil Gaiman

Ah, Shakespeare; love him or hate him, or doubt he wrote his plays: I don’t care. He is hailed as the greatest writer in the English language for a reason. From made up words, to memorable characters, to owning tropes, Shakespeare was/is one of my biggest influences and rereads. “Good Lord, for alliance! Thus goes every one to the world but I, and I am sunburnt; I may sit in a corner and cry heigh-ho for a husband!” **

Neil Gaiman is properly paired with the Bard, because he is also a brilliant wordsmith and Master of Stories. I can’t exactly remember which book of his I read first, or when I first picked it up, because his characters and worlds have been a part of my reading life for so long. His ability to render character, atmosphere, and worlds with deft, spare prose, has this Dickensian girl gritting her teeth with writer-envy.

5. Classic: Jane Austen
6. Contemporary: Megan Whalen Turner

What can I say about Jane that hasn’t been said? If you don’t think Pride and Prejudice is funny, then read it again. I was a classic tomboy, but Jane had me on pins and needles as I wondered if Darcy and Elizabeth would ever do things right, or if Wentworth would realize he was misjudging Anne, or if Catherine Moreland’s gothic novel fantasies would ruin her shot with Henry. Not only was Jane brilliant and witty, but she made you care about her characters and their relationships. My anti-romance sentiments were forgotten every time I picked up one of her novels.
Austen tip #1: When flummoxed in front of someone you like, ask after their parents.
Megan Whalen Turner, if you don’t know, wrote The Queen’s Thief series. Eugenides, thief extraordinaire, and Irene, the strong and grim queen of Attolia, are two of my favorite characters (and couples) in all literature. The push/pull of their relationship, the scheming and court intrigue, the daring thefts, and the real consequences in these books made them impossible to put down. If I dare to skim for a favorite passage, I am always sucked into reading the whole book again. Now that, Ms. Turner, is a gift.

7. Classic: C. S. Lewis
8. Contemporary: Diana Wynne Jones

I actually prefer Lewis’s nonfiction (philosophy and theology) to his fiction. Don’t get me wrong, I love the Chronicles, and they are an integral part of my reading identity. But if I am naming off my favorites, The Four Loves and Till We Have Faces immediately spring to mind. The latter is fiction, being a retelling of the Cupid and Psyche myth, but the former is a slim volume packed with wit and insight on every kind of love. They actually go together quite well. Lewis’ wit, command of both history and mythology, and his affable professor writing voice, are at their best when he is writing about tough subjects like love and pain. In Till We Have Faces, he proved that he could write “serious” fantasy, and with a strong heroine, no less.

Diana Wynne Jones’ books are funny, smart, exciting, and so very English. Howl’s Moving Castle is one of my all-time favorites, and I pick it up whenever I need a good laugh. Sophie is another character I’ve always identified with. Her cleaning mania is pretty unique in YA fiction, I think. Another hilarious (but slightly darker) Jones novel, Dark Lord of Derkholm, is one of the better fantasy parodies out there. And she didn’t just write funny books, as the truly creepy Fire and Hemlock proved.

9. Classic: The Brontés
10. Current: Garth Nix

I am cheating and putting the Bronté sisters together. Not because they are all alike, but because I read their novels around the same time. Wuthering Heights made me furious at half the characters, but the novel is a masterpiece, nonetheless. Jane Eyre, likewise, deserves its place in the pantheon of English literature. Mr. Rochester frustrated me too, but Jane’s spirit and strength of character makes her one of my favorite heroines. And of course, the oft-forgotten Anne Bronté wrote too! The Tenant of Wildfell Hall does not get as much credit as it deserves.

Garth Nix’s Abhorsen series is one of my all-time favorites. Sabriel is one of the coolest heroes ever, and the idea of anti-necromancers was brilliant. I love everything about Sabriel, from Sabriel’s no-nonsense attitude, to the use of bells to command the dead, to the world, to funny, bitter Touchstone and aggravating Mogget. Like every author on this list, Nix has a way with language that pulls you write into his worlds. From the first scene, where Sabriel brings back a pet rabbit from death, I can never put this one down once I start reading.

This is where it got hard: Terry Pratchett, Elizabeth Marie Pope, Edgar Allen Poe, Patricia C. Wrede, Ray Bradbury, Agatha Christie, Erik Larson, Matthew Pearl, The Brothers Grimm, Louisa May Alcott, Charles Dickens, D. M. Cornish, Jonathan Maberry, Patricia McKillip and more kept intruding. I could do this list indefinitely . . .

*I am defining Contemporary as "actively writing from 1980's and on :)"
** Beatrice, we have all been single at a wedding (I think), made some witty, sarcastic aside, and been taken seriously. Beatrice is my spirit animal.

So, did I pick any of your favorites? Tell me in the comments :)