Ok. I admit this is more of a glorified list of some of my favorite writers. But it is true that whenever I read something from them, a little fire inside my belly ignites again.
I’m also pretty sure there exists a support group of writers somewhere out there, sipping tea and mulling over how sick they are of being named one hit wonders. Just like musicians, they don’t want to be known for that one thing they did well seven years ago but instead known for their writing as a whole.
Because of this strange theory I’ve conjured up, I’ve decided to pay homage to some of the writing I read and admire the most.
1) JAMES ALTUCHER
I’ve read more of James’ articles than his books but the power is still there. James is probably the writer that influences my style of writing the most. Anything he writes has his blood poured all over it. He shamelessly tells stories of rejection, divorce, depression, and hitting rock bottom (more than once). He then wraps it up with a level of honesty and heart-filled insight that is so, SO, hard to replicate. If you ever need to feel connected to the highs and lows of the human experience, read some James Altucher.
2) PAULO COELHO
The Alchemist was the first book I ever read completely in another language. It also was the book that got me through one of the most difficult periods of my life when I was 17. Since that time, any words from Paulo Coelho have been nothing short of a miracle. Everything, from his personal quotes to short stories, is thought-provoking, comforting, and filled to the brim with wisdom. Here are 110 of his quotes to get you started.
3) ROALD DAHL
Roald Dahl made me love reading. When I was a kid, I used to hunt in the library exclusively for his books. His drawings fascinated me so much I used to try to mimic them. His stories were so out there and imaginative that I would often dream about the characters in his books. He was such a talented writer that today, as an adult, I can pick up one of his short stories and instantly become enveloped in the story. When I want to connect with my weird, imagination, I pick up a copy of The Twits.
4) ANAIS NIN
I will always have a hard-copy of an Anais Nin novel on my nightstand. As a woman in this age, I’ve always found Anais’ voice refreshingly feminine. Living in a time of tight restrictions for women, and the societal expectations to fulfill the typical female role, Anais rebelled. Yet, she proudly remained feminine while exploring and later using her sensual power as a woman in a man’s world. Her published work mostly consists of her diaries and fictional (or so they say) erotica. Her writing is honest and beautifully crafted in a way that is timeless for all kinds of readers. If you want a look inside the sensuality of the female mind, or want to connect with your femininity again, I recommend Delta of Venus.
5) GABRIEL GARCIA MARQUEZ
A celebrated author around the world for good reasons. Gabriel connects me to my roots with his detailed and picture painting words. I remember the culture of the country in my blood, Colombia. He makes me fall in love with dirty, cracked streets and crooked old men sitting on porches. Then he takes me on a journey of magic realism. When I want to be humbled, brought down to earth, and then thrown into the clouds, I revisit Gabriel.
6) BOB DYLAN
The greatest poet to ever live. And then he made music out of it. When I want to soak up .0001% of this genius, I play some of my favorite tunes.
7) HARUKI MURAKAMI
Humble, puzzling, alternative realities. Haruki is for when I need an escape from this dimension, but don’t want to leave behind it all. Then I finish one of his stories and lay in my bed staring at the ceiling for a while. To reexplore your early 20s, first love, and some of the darker moments, try Norweigan Wood.
8) WARSAN SHIRE
If I ever make a list of women I want to be, Warsan will make top 5. Her writing stops me in my tracks and makes me feel something very specific in my body. Her writing is a soothing bus ride back to Earth, where you stare out the window and feel your mom’s warm chest against your back while she braids your hair. For fearlessly exploring the beautiful and the painful emotions in life, there is Warsan Shire.
9) ZORA NEALE HURSTON
One of my first loves for local color writing. Zora, a native to Florida, focused on African-American culture rather than solely race relations, in her stories. For this reason, she received much criticism from the African-American community. It wasn’t until later, after her death, that her work was admired as a celebration of black culture. Her writing portrays slower times, stories told on the porch by old men and the swampy, thick air of the South. When I read Zora’s stories, I feel like I can taste everything she is saying. Then I wish I could write as freely and fearlessly as her.
10) JUDY BLUME
The voice of my adolescence. As well as probably every other teenage girl. But no one else can do Judy Blume, like, well, Judy. She had a purpose and an admirable one. She made young girls feel less alone in their developing emotional bodies. And this is the ultimate goal I have in anything I ever write. I want people to connect. To feel less lonely in this big, scary world. For that painfully, confusing time between best friendships, first times, and only to grow apart, dive into Summer Sisters.