Authors: They’re just like US! #3

The first question I posed to authors was, “What are you currently reading?”  (click HERE to read that post).  Next I asked, “What was the last book you gave up on, and why?” (click HERE to read that post).

This time I’d like to know…


Meg Waite Clayton, author of The Wednesday Sisters:   Harper Lee, George EliotJane AustenF. Scott Fitzgerald, Leo Tolstoy, Barbara PymGraham Greene, Alice McDermottJane SmileyGraham SwiftErnest GainesAnn PatchettRichard Russo, Anne Tyler and Sue Miller. For starters. And Agatha Christie!

Jennie Shortridge , author of Love and Biology at the Center of the Universe:  Old and formative favorites: Mark Twain, John Steinbeck, Barbara Kingsolver, Alice Walker, John Irving and Anne Tyler’s older books. 

Beth Fehlbaum, author of Courage in Patience:  Chris Crutcher, TK Kenyon, Sherman Alexie, Derek Armstrong, Mark Spragg, Karen Harrington,  Sarah Vowell, Cheryl Kaye Tardif, David Sedaris, Al Franken, Laurie Halse Anderson, Todd Strasser, Joyce McDonald, Anne Lamott. 

Linda Merlino, author of Belly of the Whale:  A varied spectrum of favorites, I would begin with new voices like those of fellow Kunati authors, Karen Harrington, Cheryl K Tardiff and Carole O’Dell, others are classics: Hemingway, Steinbeck, Eudora Welty and Fitzgerald and popular: Amy Tan and Stephen King to name two.

Megan Crane, author of Names My Sisters Call Me:  I don’t really have favorites, because how could I choose?  I’m currently obsessed with Richelle Mead, Marian Keyes (as ever), and Loretta Chase.  But that’s just this month!

Jasmin Rosenberg, author of How the Other Half Hamptons: I’m a huge fan of NY society writers – from Jay McInerney, to Tom Wolfe, to Candace Bushnell, to as far back as Herman Wouk (Marjorie Morningstar). 

Edward Hardy, author of Keeper and Kid:  It’s a really long list but here are a few: Amy Hempel, Flannery O’Connor, Denis Johnson, Grace Paley, Haruki Murakami, Alice Munro, Patrick O’Brian.

Alan Cheuse, author of To Catch the Lightning:  Contemporary? Dozens and dozens… 
Le Guin, Murakami, Doris Lessing, Joyce Carol Oates, Russell Banks, 
Richard Ford, Richard Bausch, James Houston, 
Ma Jian, Chinese writer in exile in London…and more…. 


Mathias Freese, author of Down to a Sunless Sea:  Nikos Kazantzakis, The Last Temptation of Christ, Saint Francis and Report to Greco, all astonishingly written. Canetti’s Crowds and Power. one of the great books of the 20th century and anything by Krishnamurti, to wit, The Flight of the Eagle, on awareness. 

Joshua Henkin, author of Matrimony:  F. Scott Fitzgerald, John Cheever, Richard Yates, Alice Munro, William Trevor, Lorrie Moore, Tobias Wolff.  But ask me on another day, and I could come up with seven others I like just as much. 

Susan Woodring  , author of Springtime on Mars:  I love John Irving, Richard Yates, Ann Hood, Charles Baxter, Ron Rash, and Andre Dubus, among others. 

Doreen Orion, author of Queen of the Road:   Elizabeth Gilbert (I loved EAT PRAY LOVE and call myself the Elizabeth Gilbert Anti-Christ because I had to be dragged kicking and screaming on our QUEEN OF THE ROAD trip). I also love Jane Hamilton (especially MAP OF THE WORLD), Bill Bryson, David Sedaris. 

Daniel Putkowski, author of An Island Away In Crime, James Ellroy but Matt Rees is new addition in the same category. Tawni O’Dell and Pete Hamill in contemporary fiction. Oldie but goodie in travel: H.V. Morton. The man lived large and wide long before the likes of Anthony Bourdain who is another great read in the same genre.

Do you share any favorite authors with any of these authors?  Next time we’ll talk about favorite childhood books.  Stay tuned!

Authors- They’re Just Like US! #2

The first question I posed to authors was “What are you currently reading?”.  I got a great response (click HERE to read that post).  I also wanted to know if authors ever abandoned books, the way I sometimes do if I just can’t get into it.  Turns out they do…


Beth Fehlbaum, author of Courage in Patience:  Running with Scissors by Augusten Burroughs. Too painful.

Linda Merlino, author of Belly of the Whale:  The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls—Just couldn’t get through it…

Jennie Shortridge , author of Love and Biology at the Center of the Universe: People will hate me for saying this, but The Memory Keeper’s Daughter. I just couldn’t wade through that initial snow storm. I have so little time to read fiction (only when not writing or revising) so something has to grab me fast. I know it must be a wonderful book because people who read what I do love it. It’s just me.

Megan Crane, author of Names My Sisters Call Me:  I don’t give up on books.  I read to the bitter end, so that I can complain about them thoroughly.

Jasmin Rosenberg, author of How the Other Half Hamptons: I almost never “give up” on books – but removed “A Million Little Pieces” from my To Be Read pile once the authenticity was questioned.

Edward Hardy, author of Keeper and Kid: One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez. I hadn’t tried it in a bunch of years but somehow I can never get past page 100. This time – same result.

Meg Waite Clayton, author of The Wednesday Sisters:   I know its sacrilege to say this, but Moby Dick. I just wasn’t that into the whale.

Alan Cheuse, author of To Catch the Lightning:  I give up on a lot of new books, 
sometimes for tactical reasons, as a reviewer, because as much 
as I’d like to, I can’t review all thrillers or science-fiction… 
I stop reading many realistic novels, when I find the subjects 
never growing out of their narrow tracks…

Mathias Freese, author of Down to a Sunless Sea:  I will not give the title lest I offend, but it is a book sent to me by a fellow author — simply unbearable, disconnected and does not grab me as a reader.

Joshua Henkin, author of Matrimony:  For the life of me, I can’t remember.  I tend to plow through till the end no matter what.  I’m not sure why.  Curiosity, probably.  The hope that there’s something in the book that I haven’t yet discovered.  But life’s too short–too many good books out there.  So I’m going to resolve to stop reading when I’m not inclined to read on.

Susan Woodring  , author of Springtime on Mars:  I had to read The Phantom Toll Booth by Norton Juster for a middle school class I’ll be teaching in the fall, and I absolutely hated it. It’s clever and all, but it just seems to be utterly without direction. Ugh. I have read all but the last chapter–I’ll have to finish it and drum up a bit of enthusiasm before I teach this class.

Doreen Orion, author of Queen of the Road:   Oh, dear. I’d really rather not answer that, as I’d hate to google my name someday and see that as someone else’s answer to this question!

Daniel Putkowski, author of An Island Away:  Last book I gave up on… I really can’t remember. I suffer through to the last word. Is this a character flaw?

Next time we’ll see which authors are the authors’ favorite authors.  Can you say AUTHORS 3 times fast???

Authors- They’re Just Like US! #1

One of the glossy magazines dedicated to celebrities (Us Weekly, I believe) has a regular feature showing famous people doing everyday things.  I like seeing rockstars picking up their drycleaning or box office sweethearts biting their nails.  I’m just a voyeur that way.  It’s interesting to see that in some ways they’re ordinary people, just like us. 

In writing this blog I’ve been able to correspond with authors, MY celebrities- MY rockstars, and I began to wonder about them.  Do they like the same books I like?  What do they recommend to their friends?  I don’t have the resources to hire the paparazzi to follow them around and peek into their bedrooms to see what’s on their nightstands, so I decided to pose the same 5 questions to a number of authors.  I got so many great responses that I’ve decided to tackle each question in a separate post.


Linda Merlino, author of Belly of the Whale:  Firehouse  by David Halberstam.

Jennie Shortridge , author of Love and Biology at the Center of the Universe: A rather odd juxtaposition of fiction and nonfiction:  The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton, and Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex by Mary Roach. 

Beth Fehlbaum, author of Courage in Patience:  When You Are Engulfed in Flames by David Sedaris

Megan Crane, author of Names My Sisters Call Me:  Careless in Red by Elizabeth George.  It’s the latest Lynley mystery, and now that I know George will, in fact, kill off longterm characters, I know that no one is safe! 

Jasmin Rosenberg, author of How the Other Half Hamptons:  The Divorce Party” by Laura Dave, after devouring her debut novel “London is the Best City in America”

Edward Hardy, author of Keeper and Kid:  A Voyage Long and Strange  by Tony Horwitz. 

Meg Waite Clayton, author of The Wednesday Sisters:   Dirty Words, edited by Ellen Sussman, which contains so many pieces that are funny, surprisingly sweet, and undeniably sexy.  And The Divorce Party, by Laura Dave, which is an incredibly moving story of two women sorting out how to go forward with or without the men in their lives.

Alan Cheuse, author of To Catch the Lightning:  Lost in Uttar Pradesh: New and Selected Stories  by Evan Connell, an old master, and stories by new Irish writer Claire Keegan, a real prodigy (Keegan’s book is titled Walk the Blue Fields).

Mathias Freese, author of Down to a Sunless Sea:  I’m about to begin reading Montaigne’s essays, in part, because Eric Hoffer claimed he learned about writing essays from this master. 

Joshua Henkin, author of Matrimony:  Netherland by Joseph O’Neill.  A terrific novel. 

Susan Woodring  , author of Springtime on Mars:  An Invisible Sign of My Own  by Aimee Bender (I’m on a Bender kick.)

Doreen Orion, author of Queen of the Road:  I’m currently reading a novel by Marisa De Los Santos, LOVE WALKED IN.  The last bookstore I did one of my reading/signing/royal shticks at, A Great Good Place for Books in Oakland, gives authors who do events a choice of any book in the store as a gift.  So, I asked what they particularly loved and this was it.  I started it on the plane back last night and I can see why. 

Don’t you just love knowing that Meg Clayton is reading Dirty Words, or that Doreen Orion is reading that Marisa de los Santos book you’ve been eyeing, or that Alan Cheuse is reading Walk the Blue Fields (which, by the way, has a stunning cover- I may have to get it just for that!)? 

Next time we’ll see what books authors couldn’t/didn’t finish reading, and why.  I’ve been known to abandon a book now and then, so I’m very curious to see what books authors let go of before the end.

So..what are YOU reading?