Whose writing do you love to read? I want to know and I want to know how these folks have influenced your writing and thinking. I’m sure this is the case with anyone who reads and writes a lot, but it fascinates me to think about how words, phrases, and my general tone is shaped by my favorite writers. Yet, at the end of the day, they’re people I’ve never met and probably will never meet. But they feel like old friends.
Here are my favorite writers, in no particular order:
1. Nora Ephron – Love, love, love her. I first read Heartburn in college after a terrible breakup. Nora’s writing makes me laugh constantly because it’s like all the things that I’m constantly thinking (mind going 100 miles/minute), but don’t say. My favorite part of the book is when the main character, Rachel, throws a giant key lime pie in the face of her ex-husband. Like, who hasn’t wanted to throw a giant pie in the face of an ex at some point … Nora’s characters say and do the things that I want to do but am terrified to say / do out loud. Special thanks to my friend Eleanor for introducing me to Ms. Ephron (and the next two writers for that matter).
2. Ruth Reichl – Former food critic for the New York Times and editor for Gourmet magazine, her memoirs are perfect to cozy up in bed with and imagine if I had the money and savvy to visit exotic restaurants and eat foie gras and drink fine wine. While there’s a lot of fanciness, there are also some pretty down-to-earth tales of her family. Ruth tells stories of her mother throwing dinner parties for 100s of people, cooking stews full of nothing but rotted food, and half of the guests waking up the next day with food poisoning. When Ruth writes about her family, you can sense a feeling of fierce love in the midst of undeniable chaos.
3. Jill Conner Browne of the Sweet Potato Queens - There’s a trend catching here: I love reading the thoughts of women who aren’t afraid to do what others might call crazy. This was a book that I felt embarrassed to read, but after picking it up and starting, I couldn’t stop. There are also some mischievous recipes in here that call for whole cans of sweetened condensed milk and bags of Butterfingers…
4. David Sedaris - Probably the earliest influence on my writing; I read everything that Sedaris had written in a few weeks when I was in high school. Loved the stories of his family and the generally insane things that seemed to happen in each book. I’d bet money that he could take the most mundane series of events and turn them into comedy. I love his dry sense of humor. My favorite book of his: Me Talk Pretty One Day.