I will read just about anything you put in front of me, however I generally prefer classic to contemporary literature, with Shakespeare as the obvious and undeniable choice for best author of all time. It has been said that all readers can be divided into two categories; those who claim Hamlet as their favorite Shakespeare play, and those who prefer Lear. I fall firmly into the King Lear camp.
Aside from all things Shakespeare, I will read with pleasure anything written by Jane Austen or Charles Dickens. I think that Nabokov’s Lolita is the most beautiful bit of prose I have ever read, I love the social insights of George Eliot, the tragic romanticism of F. Scott Fitzgerald, and the philosophical questions posed by W. Somerset Maugham.
When it comes to contemporary authors, I think the prose of Kamila Shamsie–most notably Kartography–is the most perfect and moving of the past decade. A.S. Byatt, and John Updike are further top contemporary choices for intelligent and well-crafted fiction, with a shout-out to Margaret Atwood, whose The Handmaid’s Tale should be required reading for ALL high school students.
Harold Bloom and Bill Bryson are my favorite non-fiction authors. Harold Bloom because of his ability to perfectly dissect a work of fiction or poetry, and because he makes literary criticism interesting and accessible; Bill Bryson because of his wonderfully conversational writing style and because he has a wickedly enjoyable sense of humor.
I attended college in Southern California and graduated with a B.A. in English in 1997. Before college I spent most of my time reading the right books at the wrong times and generally avoiding any schoolwork that kept me from my personal reading list. The result of this was a very unbalanced report card and extremely frustrated teachers.
It has always been my unflagging belief that everybody has the potential to appreciate literature if only they are exposed to the right books, this led me to start the group “Rediscovering the Classics” in 2007, which continues to meet each September to June, and reads one classic work of fiction each month.
My hope is that this blog, in addition to serving as an outlet for my never ending opinions about all things literary, will also provide a lively community for avid readers, gentle encouragement for fledgling readers, and food for thought for those in between.