11.11.2010

in which i succumb to a facebook meme

I could not resist this memelike thing from a Facebook friend. It's a great insight into your friends' influences and loves.

"Fifteen authors":
Which authors have influenced you and will always stick with you? If you're game, list the first 15 you can recall in no more than 15 minutes. Tag 15 friends, including me; I'm interested in seeing which authors you choose.

My list:
George Orwell
John Steinbeck
Charles Dickens
Howard Zinn
William Shakespeare
S. E. Hinton
E. B. White
Emily Bronte
Saul Bellow
Toni Morrison
Graham Greene
William Kennedy
Paul Zindel
Gloria Steinem
Michael Pollan

Yours?

67 comments:

James said...

Lewis Carroll
JRR Tolkien
Susan Cooper
Lloyd Alexander
Isaac Asimov
Stanislaw Lem
John Wyndham
Ray Bradbury
Carl Sagan
Stephen Jay Gould
Richard Dawkins
Richard Adams
Douglas Adams
Douglas Hofstadter
Spike Milligan

L-girl said...

Richard Dawkins
Richard Adams
Douglas Adams
Douglas Hofstadter


Great word-association game going on here. :)

James said...

I admit, I re-arranged the list when I saw realized I could link the names.

redsock said...

david foster wallace
bill james
robert palmer
peter gammons
howard zinn
john irving
george orwell
don delillo
lester bangs
roger angell
peter guralnick

that is 11. i am more apt to think of individual books more than writers. (for example, i have not read any irving in the last 25 years, but i was way into him in the early 80s, when i had embarrassing dreams of writing novels.)

plus, i am probably forgetting someone (or sometwo) who might even be in the top 5. doing this in 15 minutes is not the best way to get an accurate list.

L-girl said...

i am more apt to think of individual books more than writers.

I had several ideas for books that had a huge effect on me, but not the writer in general, so I didn't include those. In fact, Robert Palmer was one of those - one book had a huge influence on my understanding of my most loved music, but I haven't read much else by him.

[Which reminds me of someone I should have included: Paul Goldberger. Taught me how to look at buildings.]

I found the first 10 came to me immediately, then I struggled a bit to reach 15.

The whole "do this right away" mode is just a silly internet thing, I guess. It assumes first impressions are accurate, but my memory is too dicey for that.

johngoldfine said...

Richard Stark
William Wister Haines
Russell Banks
John Holt
Edgar Z. Friedenberg
Jules Henry
Leston Havens
Francis Hodgson Burnett
Dorothy Canfield
Edmund Gosse
Anthony Trollope
AP Terhune
Wilhelm Muesler
Oliver Sacks
Howard Fast

johngoldfine said...

whoops, mustn't leave out:

John Stilgoe

L-girl said...

I love Russell Banks.

Amy said...

Mine is up on Facebook. Should I copy it here? I bet if I did it again, I'd have a different list. I agree that the 15 minute thing is sort of artificial. I did not list one non-fiction writer because somehow my mind just went to fiction. And yet there are a number of non-fiction writers who have had quite an influence on my thinking.

I have to admit that there are a number of names on these lists that are entirely unfamiliar to me---especially John's list!

Amy said...

Oh, I like Russell Banks a lot also! And I loved The Secret Garden. My fourth grade teacher read it to our class, and I remember looking forward every day to that time at the end of the school day when she would read another chapter.

L-girl said...

I haven't read most of the authors on John's list, either, and there are a few I haven't even heard of. Pretty cool.

Amy, I like your memory of having The Secret Garden read to you. I have two excellent memories of read-alouds in serial form, one from a grade school teacher reading The Pushcart Wars (an amazing book!) and the other a camp counselor who read us Rebecca! Still one of my all-time favourite books.

Same as above, I don't list du Maurier as a favourite author, because it's only based on this one book. But damn, I *love* that book.

L-girl said...

Mine is up on Facebook. Should I copy it here?

I guess that depends on if you want to share it with wmtc folks.

L-girl said...

* The Pushcart War

common mistake of mine!

impudent strumpet said...

If I were the boss of this meme, I'd make a rule that everyone has to specify why/how each author influenced them. But I'm not even playing, so I don't get a vote.

L-girl said...

If I were the boss of this meme, I'd make a rule that everyone has to specify why/how each author influenced them.

That would be a good addition, it would make the game so much richer. But it might need a word or line limit. Most of us could probably write lengthy blog posts on how these authors have influenced us.

Amy said...

I think I drew up my list based first, on books that changed my life in childhood by opening my eyes to the magic of literature (hence, Norton Juster, EB White and Madeleine L'Engle) even if, as in Juster's case, I only read one book. Many of the rest were authors whose books I just tore through, one after the other, after falling in love with the first one---like Steinbeck, Twain, Austen, Updike, Nabokov, Atwood, Piercy, Tyler, Hoffman and Vonnegut. As for Melville, I read some of his other stories and Billy Budd, but it was Moby Dick that pushed him on to the list. It was another book, read in high school and again in college, that opened my eyes to the magic of literature. And Nicole Krauss' History of Love is my favorite book of the last ten years.

So I guess in 15 minutes I did okay, though I would add others like Michael Cunningham, Wallace Stegner, Russell Banks, Michael Chabon, and Bernard Malamud to the list if I could.

So I didn't copy my list, but there it is, in paragraph form! And with some explanation of the "why." I hope I did not exceed the word limit!

Amy said...

I have never heard of The Pushcart War. Who's the author?

Now if we start on just children's books, I'd have a different list (though the first three would be the same, of course).

johngoldfine said...

I should have mentioned the peerless Carl Barks, a huge influence on my life and outlook.

johngoldfine said...

...and I live Karen Prior every day of my life.

L-girl said...

Obviously there are no real rules to this game, but I don't think influences like Karen Pryor or Carl Barks constitutes "author". That's someone whose work has greatly affected your life, I get that, but by that token, I would include Joni Mitchell and Picasso. Both have affected and influenced me deeply, but they're not authors.

I thought about including Joni, but didn't want to open that door.

L-girl said...

And with some explanation of the "why." I hope I did not exceed the word limit!

I didn't ask why, but thanks for sharing. :)

Amy said...

LOL! You didn't, but Impudent Strumpet suggested it would be better with those explanations. :)

James said...

I was considering including Monty Python and Beyond the Fringe (to go with Spike Milligan), since their writing is just as important as their performing (here's an example from Beyond the Fringe, with Jonathan Miller and Alan Bennett).

Of course, if we allow comic book/strip writers (writers and writer/artists, as opposed to people who only drew), I'd have to toss in Walt Kelly, Charles Schultz, Berkley Breathed, Gary Larson, and Bill Waterson. :)

johngoldfine said...

Karen Pryor wrote 'Don't Shoot the Dog'--a fine title! And others! She's more than just a pretty face!

Carl Barks...He has an oeuvre; he was a master story teller, and every month I twirled the drugstore racks round and round til I found him.

I think they are authors--if not of books in Barks' case--and they both have influenced and stuck with me. But neither is in the Official Pantheon, I do concede.

If I agree to drop Barks, can I keep Pryor???

:)

L-girl said...

Of course, if we allow comic book/strip writers (writers and writer/artists, as opposed to people who only drew), I'd have to toss in Walt Kelly, Charles Schultz, Berkley Breathed, Gary Larson, and Bill Waterson. :)

Exactly. I might draw up that list slightly differently, but my point is, we'd be in a different medium.

If you're naming Monty Python, I'd put in Fawlty Towers. It's great writing - but it's also great performing, and it's collaborative, and it's not experienced through reading.

Favourite writer or favourite author doesn't mean that, IMO.

L-girl said...

But neither is in the Official Pantheon, I do concede.

I am NOT talking about a Pantheon, not by any means. Only about what the word "author" means or doesn't mean.

If I agree to drop Barks, can I keep Pryor???

You can do whatever you like. :) I just don't think either of those are authors.

(And I haven't got the slightest idea what Karen Pryor's face looks like.)

L-girl said...

Change in my list, albeit long after the 15-minute mark.

If we're talking influence, I have to include Michael Pollan. His writing has had such a profound effect on my thinking and my life.

Amy said...

I wondered about that omission since I know how much he has influenced you.

L-girl said...

Did you think of that? That's cool. That's the artificial "think fast" problem.

Amy said...

Yeah, whoever decided that thinking fast brings the best results?

johngoldfine said...

I don't know what Karen Pryor looks like either, but I do know we click together.

L-girl said...

Further to the Monty Python / Charles Schulz point, I wouldn't include screenwriters on this list, but I do include playwrights. If you've ever read a screenplay, they don't read anything like movies. They are really not meant to be read. But plays can be read like novels.

johngoldfine said...

Good heavens, l-girl, classify much? What are you--bucking to be a librarian or something?

johngoldfine said...

I've never tried my hand at a play, but screenplays are certainly very peculiar to write--and, as you say, not really able to be read for pleasure.

redsock said...

clearly, we need more list posts.
maybe one every monday?

James said...

I suppose I should have said "The Pythons" instead of "Monty Python", because I was thinking specifically of that group's writing (which would include half of Fawlty Towers, too). I have a couple of books of their scripts, as well as Beyond the Fringe scripts and Goon Shows by Spike Milligan. :)

L-girl said...

Good heavens, l-girl, classify much? What are you--bucking to be a librarian or something?

LOL, I didn't even realize that. I am indeed a classifier from way back. When I was a kid I collected little figures of animals - carved, glass, stone, whatever anyone would bring me from a trip - and I either put them in size order or by material.

clearly, we need more list posts. maybe one every monday?

Hm, after all this time on wmtc, starting a list series. It might be fun! It's more fun than doing this on FB, because everyone's answers are all in one place.

Hmmm.

Amy said...

I am indeed a classifier from way back.

I bet you also have always had your books arranged in some ordered fashion also---by author, by genre, chronologically?

Mine are more or less arranged that way. Non-fiction on one set of bookshelves arranged by topic. Fiction (which are spread over many bookcases in several rooms) more or less chronologically and by author.

Weird or what? My music is also arranged that way---classical separate from popular/rock/folk, and then alphabetically by artist or composer. That is, until Harvey takes something out and puts it back randomly. So annoying!

Perhaps I should have been a librarian....

James said...

I bet you also have always had your books arranged in some ordered fashion also---by author, by genre, chronologically?

I certainly do that... Hasn't happened yet in the new house since we're still unpacking, but at the old place, there were separate book cases for fiction, comics, science, arts, cooking, and other stuff. Fiction was arranged alphabetically by author, then chronologically by title except series, which were kept together in series order. Though, unlike some publishers, I always kept The Magician's Nephew as the sixth Narnia book, as it was written and published, not the first, as it happens in the in-story chronology.

DVDs got the same treatment: one book-case for movies, another for TV series, and the third divided up for documentaries, concerts, and anime. Movies were arranged by title, except certain directors, who got their stuff grouped under their name (Terry Gilliam, for example). And our special "Science Fiction Double Feature" group, where we're trying to collect all the movies mentioned in the opening to The Rocky Horror Show. :)

L-girl said...

Weird or what?

There are people with large collections of books or music who don't arrange them in any order? I find that weird.

Music:

LPs all alphabetical. (Yes, we still have LPs - 100s of them.)

CDs alphabetical but rock separated from non-rock (blues, jazz, and other roots sounds)

Books:

Nonfiction by general topic - baseball, music, history (NYC history is separate), memoirs, political (and within that, feminism, anti-war, etc.), animals, etc.

Fiction - American, Brit, Canadian - within that, 19th C, earlier 20 C, more contemporary - and within that by author - i.e., all the Dickens is together, near Hardy and Bronte, Hemingway is hanging out with Fitzgerald, Baldwin and Faulkner.

How else would you ever find anything?

L-girl said...

That is, until Harvey takes something out and puts it back randomly.

Puts it back randomly!!!

OMG. Seriously!

L-girl said...

DVDs got the same treatment:

If we had an extensive movie library like you guys, we would definitely organize those in a similar fashion. Even our little movie collection is grouped by comedy, music, political stuff.

Now, Allan has a HUGE CD and DVD collection in his basement lair, and I don't know if those are organized at all, or just random piles (and piles and piles). I know his own bookshelves are organized - postmodern fiction, Red Sox, 9/11, and David Foster Wallace has his own shelf.

James said...

Of course, these days our music is organized digitally, and the CDs are all in boxes.

When we're more settled, Lori plans to build a digital media system that will do the same with movies, and I'll finally be able to file the individual Warner Bros cartoons by director, character, and year, instead of "Golden Collection #1", "Golden Collection #2", and so on!

Jere said...

I like Mike Lupica....


(seriously, 43 comments and no Art Vandelay?)

redsock said...

Fiction (which are spread over many bookcases in several rooms) more or less chronologically and by author.

So each author's books are shelved in chronological order? (When I first read it, I thought it might be by publication year, all the books you have from 1983, then 1984, etc., which would be quite unique, I think.)

Most of our LPs are like that, or were at some point.

redsock said...

Now, Allan has a HUGE CD and DVD collection in his basement lair, and I don't know if those are organized at all, or just random piles (and piles and piles).

They were, but things have not really come back out of boxes since the flood. (These are 99% bootlegs, by the way.)

David Foster Wallace has his own shelf.

Actually, several. All my IJs is almost an entire shelf!

L-girl said...

When we're more settled, Lori plans to build a digital media system that will do the same with movies, and I'll finally be able to file the individual Warner Bros cartoons by director, character, and year, instead of "Golden Collection #1", "Golden Collection #2", and so on!

Wow, I love that. :)

So each author's books are shelved in chronological order?

Nothing in chronological order. The only chronology is a general category that you'd find in a university fiction course, like American fiction 20 Century, British fiction 19 Century, etc.

I believe a classification system only has to serve the user. In this case, having an author's books together is adequate - I can find the author and there are all her books. Classifying them any further would be a waste of time for me.

James said...

Classifying them any further would be a waste of time for me.

I go a step further because a lot of the fiction I read comes in series. If I get the latest Vorkosigan book, or the latest Garrett P.I. or Marcus Didius Falco, I always want to read the whole series from the start again, in order.

That's getting tricky with some of the series, though. Vorkosigan's up to ~15 books. :)

Amy said...

I guess my ordering reflects to some extent my interest in history, as with most of my fiction, I have them arranged chronologically, American literature separate from English and other foreign authors, instead of alphabetically as they are in a library. It also helps me relive my American literature classes to look at the authors arranged by the time period in which they lived and wrote.

And, yes, Harvey has no need for order and is perfectly happen with random arrangements of music. Of course, now much of what he wants to hear is on his Ipod so he just plugs that in and does not need to mess up my collection. (We also have a collection of LPs, but they are still in boxes in our basement since we no longer have a working turntable.)

One of my great pleasures when we moved last year was getting to unpack all the boxes of books and reshelve them. Definitely a frustrated librarian in me somewhere!

L-girl said...

Oh yes, series always stay together and in order. Absolutely!

L-girl said...

Also, what I meant by "we still have LPs" is "we keep our turntable in working order and still listen to LPs".

I also listen to music digitally, but converting thousands of CDs and LPs to digital is out of the question, and I won't give up certain music simply because it's in a less convenient format. This is an old theme of mine, no need to tread this ground again!

johngoldfine said...

How else would you ever find anything?

:)

Jean and I have both been collecting books, pretty heedless of storage realities, for about 55 years. 55 years apiece, that is.

We live in an 1850ish Greek Revival Cape with original horsehair plaster laid on original split-oak laths--and any place a book shelf can go and a screw can hook onto that lath, it has gone and it has hooked.

One former bedroom is now all books, alphabetized by author-- from 'In the Belly of the Beast' by Jack Henry Abbott to 'Le Bete Humaine' by Emile Zola. Then there was no more shelf space there, so we started shoving books in above older books, near where they would have slotted in if there had been space.

Then there was no more room to do that, so we started dainty and discreet piles on the floor, keeping to the first rule of orderliness, which is to keep the book title facing outwards so we could use the squat-and-squint method of book retrieval. No slobs here!

Then there was no more room on the floors--not if we wanted to ever get to the shelves--, so the other bookshelves in the house, these organized by topic (travel, religion, art, animals, architecture, music, etc.) began to clog up with books I would have preferred to file by author, but you understand this was just as a temporary measure until I found a new wall to hang shelves on somewhere....

Then we reached the lowest, the nadir, the abysss of degradation and were declared an OSHA disaster site: yes, we began stacking books on the stairway, in the halls, on the coffee table, on rarely used chairs.

Then Kindle was going to save us! But soon my wife realized that it wasn't enough to kindleize a book--she wanted to 'own' it too. Lot of help that was.

L-girl, the short answer to your question is not very damned easily!

L-girl said...

I can just picture it. Something out of Dickens, I believe. :)

Allan probably dreams of living in that sort of house.

I love books but I love space, too. And I must be able to find anything I want at any given time. I can put my finger on anything I own almost immediately, and if I can't, it rarely takes more than 10 minutes.

On those rare occasions when I have to really search for something, I hate it.

We've put limits on our book collecting out of space (and money) considerations many many times. Much to Allan's dismay.

And sometimes - often - I want to own nothing, or as close to nothing as possible.

Amy said...

When we moved, we decided to give away as many books as we could. Of course, when I then started sorting out which books to give away, I realized how hard a task that was, even though we were giving them to a good cause. We did manage to donate a lot of kids' books (The Babysitter Books, for example), some college texts that were clearly dated and no longer of interest, and some miscellaneous books that I did not care about.

That still left us with an amazing number of books. We now have books in our bedroom, each of the "extra" bedrooms, and, much to my great pleasure, a whole room devoted almost exclusively to books---the bonus room over the garage. I bought three new bookcases for that room alone. In our old house the books were doubled up on the shelves, squeezed on top of each other, hidden in closets, etc. Now all the books are on a bookshelf where I can find them.

I did, however, resolve after moving that I was going to try and purchase fewer books. Instead, I would take them out of the library. I have done some of that. But then I got a Kindle for my birthday and have started reading on that. I do NOT like it as much as reading a real book, but it will save us from having to start tripping over books again!

L-girl said...

Allan got a Kindle as a gift recently. I can see getting a lot of use out of it. I read some books digitally on my iPAQ (old handheld PC) and I liked it.

I like digital books. I also like library books. :) But either way, if I really really love a book, I'm probably going to want it on my shelf in addition to the library or digital copy.

Amy, was that the first and only book purge you guys ever did since buying your house? I know lots of people who have only done that once (or like John, never).

I've purged and culled continually all my life - donated books, sold them to used bookstores - same with CDs and LPs.

Amy said...

I do not think we had done any kind of purge of books since ... ever? I am a hoarder of books, I guess. I have always shared books with others and often not had them returned, but otherwise, I just kept them. Not that I ever reread them (with only a few exceptions). It's just that I want them around. Like old friends.

Reading on the Kindle is better than I expected, but I miss the feel of turning pages and being able to flip back and forth to go back to an earlier point. You can do that on the Kindle---in fact, it is easier to find an earlier passage through the search tool than in hard copy of a book---but it's just...not the same.

Having said that, I do expect that I will not be buying many books now. I just have no more space!

L-girl said...

I was going to say ever, but I thought you'd qualify it to one house. :)

Yes, book lovers everywhere bemoan the feel, the turning of the page, etc. etc. The hard copies are still there.

But being able to carry 100s of books in a little lightweight device is so great. The interface is so readable and all those little features are terrific. They're also a huge boon to people with all kinds of disabilities. I really like them - not instead of paper books, but as an option.

James said...

Lori & I are moving to digital books. The paper ones (that we have digital copies of) will go into boxes or get donated, the rest will stay on shelves.

redsock said...

Lori & I are moving to digital books.

Kids today, with their robo-phones and book-pods. Pfffft.

L-girl said...

Lori & I are moving to digital books.

I think you guys like gadgets and technology more than you like books. Come on, admit it...! :)

James said...

We still have more books than gadgets, though -- by number and by weight.

L-girl said...

by weight

Thank goodness for that! Unless you're collecting old mainframe computers from the ENIAC era. Or 1980s boom boxes.

JoshuaRandall87! said...

Kurt Vonnegut, Art Spiegelman, Naomi Wolf, Richard Dawkins,George Orwell, John Steinbeck,
Joe Haldeman
Bryce Courtenay
Joseph Heller
Orson Scott card
Naomi Klein
John N. Gray
Samuel Clemens
Charles Darwin
Judy Rubick

JoshuaRandall87! said...

Limiting it to 15 was really hard.

impudent strumpet said...

[/topic]

Kindle people: are any of you able to browse the web via 3G on your Kindle in Canada? I've got mixed information on whether that's possible, and it's the deciding factor in whether I buy one.

[topic]

James said...

I can't say about the Kindle and 3G, as we went with the Kobo instead, since it doesn't tie you into a proprietary format (though it's still stuck with DRM for Kobo-sourced books). Our Kobos don't have wireless. The newest ones have WiFi (but not 3G).

I've heard that the Kindle works with the 3G in Canada, but haven't confirmed it.

L-girl said...

Limiting it to 15 was really hard.

That's a good sign.

I almost put Art Spiegelman on my list.