influence me!

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.

She looks so happy. My favorite books are Tender at the Bone and Comfort Me With Apples.

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…

Maybe I will look like one of these ladies when I grow up.

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. 

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2 thoughts on “influence me!

  1. I love reading your posts, Ramsey! The book that has probably influenced me the most in the last year or so is The Art of the Commonplace, by Wendell Berry; I keep going back to it, because his approach is so wise and refreshing. I’ve also really enjoyed books by Jose Saramago and Graham Greene recently…and books that made me laugh out loud like a crazy person include We Learn Nothing, by Tim Kreider; How to Be a Woman, by Caitlin. Moran; and Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House, by Eric Hodgins (movie also hilarious). Love you!

  2. I love The Art of the Commonplace. Wendell Berry is one of Pat’s favorite authors and he introduced me to dear Wendell. Thanks for sharing the others – I love that I have some new books to my reading list. Thanks, Eleanor!

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