Top Ten Writers — Friends and family, part one

We all have different tastes. We all cherish different writers. And this is what I love about life – its differences, and its similarities.

What do my personal friends and sometimes acquaintances think about their top-10 writers?


Mrs. Black Marks on Wood Pulp

1. Ani Difranco
I’m not a huge lyric person, but Ani says it like it is… and can play a mean guitar.

2. George Orwell
I’d read a lot of the typical George Orwell books, but will always remember buying Down and Out in Paris and London in a book store/convenience store in Alnwick, England. (Jimmy, don’t forget to give it back.)

3. Toni Morrison
I had a class in college where I read 6 of her books. I’m thankful I did, because I don’t know if I would have taken the time to read them otherwise. Not because they aren’t good, but because they require undivided time. Sometimes it’s easier to just read someone like number 10…

4. Tom Robbins
I read a lot of Tom Robbins in high school. I appreciate his wacky descriptions.

5. John Irving
I borrowed The World According to Garp from someone who I worked with at Bagel Boy. I wasn’t disappointed. Actually, I still have that torn up copy of The World According to Garp. Do you want your book back James Cool?

6. John Steinbeck
East of Eden was the first book his that I read… and I only bought it because the stupid Oprah book selection jacket actually came off, thus leaving no evidence of its connection with the cult-like club.

7. David Sedaris
I first experienced David Sedaris on public radio. I make it a point to read the story about his experience as a Santa’s elf every Christmas.

8. Anne Lamott
I first read Anne’s nonfiction…. I appreciate her “tell it like it is” way of life and her honesty when speaking on spirituality and the human experience.

9. Janet Evanovich (Stephanie Plum mysteries)
How can I resist? When I can’t handle a book that I need undivided time for (i.e. Toni Morrison) I can always see what’s going on with my buddy Stephanie Plum, the bounty hunter. Yes, this is something to read when I don’t want to think. Or, when Corey’s watching football and I’m not eating or napping.

10. Mollie Katzen (and the Moosewood collective)
The best cookbook author ever. The Enchanted Broccoli Forest was given to me by one of my bosses.


Mother of Black Marks on Wood Pulp

Mystery: Dennis Lehane, J.A. Jance, John Morgan Wilson, Jeff Abbott, Steve Hamilton, and of course, Agatha Christie.

Non fiction (Benedictine spirituality): Kathleen Norris, Norven Vest, Benet Tvedson (my oblate director).

Classics: Harper Lee, P.G. Wodehouse, and of course, John Steinbeck (Grapes of Wrath!).

Of course there are many, many more who are “my favorite author of the week” but chose these as “my ALL time faves”.



Noise From the Zoo
Drug and alcohol/mental health counselor/slacker/dog owner/kickballer/smartass

1. Maya Angelou
I find a lot of peace and inspiration in her words. I also love the cards at Hallmark.

2. C. S. Lewis
The Chronicles of Narnia are great of course, but his other work is complex and thought-provoking for my simple mind.

3. Shel Silverstein
Wonderful words that are kid-friendly but hold such adult lessons

4. Judy Blume
Pure goodness…really learned to love reading from Judy Blume.

5. J. K. Rowling
Impressive and specific storylines with multiple interesting characters. She is able to encourage people of all ages to love books.

6. Tina Fey
Hilarious and brilliant woman

7. Bill Bryson
Easy ‘in between client read’ or a chapter to get me relaxed. Funny author

8. Dean Koontz
When I was younger I used to read these books and go to bed scared sh*tless. I still look at some of the books on my shelf and get goosebumps. Thrilling and mindless reads.

9. Stan and Jan Berenstain
I had/have stacks and stacks of the Berenstain Bears books. I loved the trouble those darn little bears had and the lessons that they learned. Many values/morals/beliefs can be taught by those darn bears.

10. Eminem
Guilty pleasure I suppose. I am amazed by his lyrics (not in full agreement with them obviously) but can respect his talent and ability at the same time. Plus, I hoped it would make me sound more badass after listing the Berenstain Bears!?


Jean Nicholson
Lifelong reader, book club member, chaired The Big Read in Sioux Falls last spring; helping chair the SD Festival of Books this fall; love talking about books as much as actually reading them.

1. Ted Kooser
Poet. Each word is chosen carefully and concisely. Amazing metaphors and descriptions – Local Wonders is entrancing. Come hear him at the Festival of Books.

2. Craig Wilson
USA Today columnist. “The Final Word” – I love his writing style and his take on the everyday things in life. Looking forward to meeting him at the book festival.

3. Jon Hassler
A Minnesota novelist – loved his characters and story in A Green Journey and Dear James.

4. Barbara Kingsolver
Prodigal Summer and Poisonwood Bible made me think about the world and our effect on it.

5. Ken Follette
This man knows how to write, whether it’s a thriller like Eye of the Needle or a historical novel like Pillars of the Earth.

6. Leif Enger
Another Minnesota novelist, who wrote Peace Like a River. I would stop reading at times just to marvel at his beautiful writing. Can’t wait for his next book.

7. Stephen Ambrose
I felt so sad when he died before finishing his trilogy. Undaunted Courage was an amazing history; my husband loved his story of the railroad even more – Nothing Like it in the World. His third was to be about the interstate highway system. Also wrote a book about male friendships.

8. Lyn Johnston
The comic strip For Better or Worse. She has me laughing and crying, particularly in Remembering Farley, the story of their sheepdog.

9. Mitch Albom
Has won all kinds of sports-writing awards, and then turned to books. Tuesdays with Morrie was the best, but I will always pick up his new book.

10. Bob Greene
Too bad he got in trouble as a Chicago newspaper columnist, but he writes great non-fiction. Our whole family loved Be True to Your School, his 1964 diary as a high school student in Ohio. Duty was a great read about the man who dropped the bomb on Japan during WWII.


Doug Rost
Fishing With Idiots
Professional Man of Leisure

In no particular order:

1. William Blake
A great writer and social commentator of his time

2. Kurt Vonnegut
Strange, surreal, and just plain excellent.

3. Beck (Hansen)
Lyricist and all around musical genius. One of the only artists I know who can write lyrics that link humor with depth.

4. Neil Sheehan
A great history/political science writer. If you want to know about the truth and politics behind the Vietnam War, look no Further than his book “A Bright and Shining Lie”

5. Ernest Hemmingway
Need I even comment?

6. Jack Kerouac
Wrote in a way that utterly captivates, inspires, and transports the reader

7. Hunter S Thompson
Brilliant. His political analysis is usually dead on, if not a bit far-fetched. Thompson’s prose is some of the best humor writing ever printed.

8. J.R.R. Tolkien
Wow. Tolkien was a master of fiction. Add to that the fact that he actually crafted new languages for use within his worlds, as well as the sheer depth of said worlds and you have one of the best ever.

9. Ray Bradbury
An endless supply of quality entertainment, and a genuinely nice guy to boot (I’ve met him).

10. Allen Ginsberg
Defined the Beat poets. Ginsberg pushed boundaries and opened new ground for modern poetry.

This was lovingly handwritten on September 20th, 2006