Top Ten Authors I've Read the Most Of
This week the folks at The Broke and the Bookish are asking people who their most-read authors are. The following list are the tops for me but with my wide-ranging and somewhat eclectic reading habits over the years these authors represent less than five percent of all the books that I have read (at least of those I have kept records of).
Over the years, since my introduction to Shakespeare with Rome and Juliet in High School, I have read most of the plays and the sonnets. Some of my favorites are As You Like It, The Tempest, A Midsummer Night's Dream, Coriolanus, Twelfth Night, and Hamlet.
I began reading Plato in the early nineteen seventies in College, but my reading of his dialogues increased significantly in the nineteen nineties through my participation in The Basic Program of Liberal Education (see also Aristotle below). My favorite dialogues include The Symposium, Phaedrus, Cratylus, and Gorgias.
3. Leo Tolstoy
I have read and reread War and Peace several times, but also enjoyed his other novels, novellas, and short stories. The Death of Ivan Ilych, The Kreutzer Sonata, and The Cossacks are three of the more memorable of his shorter works.
4. William Faulkner
William Faulkner entered my life in High School when I first attempted to read The Sound and the Fury. Decades later after several more readings of this great novel I began to connect with the voices in it. Over the last couple of decades I have gradually read almost all of his novels and some of his short stories. Among my favorites, in addition to The Sound and the Fury, I count The Snopes Trilogy, The Reivers, and Go Down, Moses.
5. Charles Dickens
Charles Dickens is the author who has the distinction of being the first that I read of those included in my top ten. I still remember carrying my paperback copy of Oliver Twist with me when I attended Boy Scout Summer Camp in 1962. My reading of Dickens (and about Dickens) has never stopped and I have read several of his novels more than once. My favorite of all of them is David Copperfield; while Great Expectations, Bleak House, and Nicholas Nickleby are also near the top of my list. I believe The Mystery of Edwin Drood is the most underrated of his novels and it should be read by anyone who enjoys mysteries and good writing.
6. Henry James
The writing of Henry James is an acquired taste. It is one to which I have gradually succumbed as my delight as grown with each novel and story that I have read. Having read almost all of his fiction (and some non-fiction) I would include The Turn of the Screw, Washington Square, and Daisy Miller among my favorites.
7. Iris Murdoch
I came to the novels of Iris Murdoch while I was in High School reading A Fairly Honourable Defeat when it was first published. I have continued to traverse her novels and hope to read them all some day. Some of my favorites include The Black Prince and A Word Child.
8. Ayn Rand
Ayn Rand came into my reading life when I was in High School and I read The Fountainhead which became my favorite of her novels. I have read them all including her masterpiece, Atlas Shrugged. In addition to her novels I have read most of her non-fiction including The Romantic Manifesto, Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal, and Philosophy: Who Needs It.
Aristotle, like Plato, was a discovery of my college years. My reading of his works continued and grew into a major project when I began studying in The Basic Program of Liberal Education. The power of his intellect is evident in all of his writings, but those that I found the most profound include The Metaphysics, The Nicomachean Ethics, On Rhetoric, Poetics, the Posterior Analytics, and De Anima.
10. Thomas Mann
Thomas Mann is, perhaps, my favorite author, with the appeal of his writing spanning short stories, short novels, and massive novels like Buddenbrooks and The Magic Mountain. My favorite novel is his last, unfinished work, Confessions of Felix Krull, Confidence Man. I also particularly enjoy reading and rereading Death in Venice, Tristan, and Tonio Kroger.
Other Significant Authors
Some of the authors who just missed my top ten but whom I have read extensively and enjoy reading include: Fyodor Dostoevsky, Joseph Conrad, Philip K. Dick, Marcel Proust, Virginia Woolf, Theodore Sturgeon, Friedrich Nietzsche, and H. G. Wells.