On Friday we asked you to power rank your top 5 books, and we gave you a hint that we would be asking for authors today. For me, I think this one is a little more difficult than ranking my top 5 books. My top five book list is full of words that truly hit home to me, and while a few have changed over the last decade, they are “top five” books because they still hold the same levity as they did upon their first read.
Nevertheless, here are my top 5 authors:
1. JD Salinger
2. Langston Hughes
3. Shane Koyczan
4. Chuck Palahniuk
5. William Burroughs
I’m going to throw an honorary mention to both Ernest Hemingway and Nella Larsen, as both have definitely helped to shape my own writing, and given me quite the insight into life, longing, and love.
There are so many more who could inch closer to my list: Poe, Virginia Woolf, Kesey, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Toni Morrison, Robinson Jeffers, Taylor Mali, Ralph Ellison, Richard Wright, James Baldwin… the list goes on for quite some time; however, I will hold strong to my top 5. Each of them has had a visceral effect on me, and continues to do so, regardless of how much time passes, or how many times I’ve read the same material. I don’t think there’s one Shane Koyczan poem that doesn’t give me goosebumps, and even a couple of – what I consider to be – duds from Palahniuk (Doomed, Damned, Haunted – though I give the last one high praise for the short stories which it contained) still received high marks when it came to how easily the stories were told, and how well the characters came to life. I don’t think I’ll ever read a book as open and honest as Burroughs’ Naked Lunch. Hughes is the entire reason I fell in love with literature and poetry; if you’ve never read him, check out his Selected Poems, or Not Without Laughter. JD Salinger just might be the only author over whose death I cried, and even left work because I could not function. Catcher in the Rye meant more to me during my teenage years, and early twenties, than any piece of literature.
Authors, and the characters they create, can be your best friends, enemies, counselors, and everything else you can imagine.
Who are your top 5 authors?