What's great about lists like this is they make you feel good. Its an emphasis on the positive. These are just some off the top of my head...
Faulkner One thing about books is the places you encounter them. I first remember the Sound and the Fury as a kid. I pulled it out of my mother's bookshelf and read some of it thinking, how weird. It wasn't until about 20 years later that I read and felt the Faulkner pellmell. But whenever I think of Faulkner, I think of that hard covered dusty modern library edition. I also remember reading the short story "the Bear" (paperback) in Antigua Guatemala and thinking, why has it been so long since I'd read some Faulkner. Then there's that image of dragging a coffin all around everywhere. I do not remember when I read "As I lay Dying," as the image is so strong and ridiculous and fascinating that its place in reading time is lost.
Mark Twain I am sorta putting this in for Suldog. My connection with Mark Twain is a performance given in high school by a classmate. This guy was a couple of years ahead of me. I forget his name which is too bad because he's probably sickeningly successful. But he did the best Mark Twain performance in which for one hour, dressed in a white suit with white mustache and wig, he kept the attention of a large group of high schoolers.
Confederacy of Dunces The BBC did a top 100 list recently and this book was not on there! Not only that, but Midnight's Children was on there while this one wasn't! FAIL! I don't care how great the BBC does a british accent, they loose.
Tale of Two Cities I can't help it. Dickens knows how to set a scene.
Steinbeck For a guy with the middle name Ernst he did alright. I'm putting him in though for this Canadian fellow that had the rattiest chunk of dreadlock hanging down to his butt I've ever seen. I ran into the Canadian at the "Last Resort," a bar in Panachel Guatemala. Say "Steinbeck" to him and his sentences would start connecting and he'd even turn on his barstool some. If I were to pick a Steinbeck book I'd pick "Cannery Row" but then I've never read "Grapes of Wrath." *After a while, the not reading becomes more distinctive than the reading. But, I suppose I'll read it sometime anyway.*
Yehuda Amichai Selected poetry translated by Chana Bloch and Stephen Mitchell. Amichai's words are liquid.
"Not the peace of a cease-fire,
not even the vision of the wolf and the lamb,
as in the heart when the excitement is over
and you can talk only about a great weariness."...
Li Po and Emily Dickinson People say that the referring to Emily Dickinson by her full name, vs just Dickinson is sexist. And, that may be true. But its also how she wrote. She is some one you want to cherish with a couple more syllables. Li Po will always be my favorite ancient oriental inebriate.
A Treasury of Great Poems Louis Untermeyer. Tales of a misspent youth.
James Baldwin Another pellmell writer. I think I might pick "Go Tell It on the Mountain" but the image I have of him is his eyes on the cover of a book of essays, "Nobody Knows My Name." Also, when I think of Baldwin, and I believe I've read everything by him, I slide into thinking about the room with lights in the Invisible Man. I bet anything Baldwin wished he'd written that scene.
Rex Stout No list is complete without Rex Stout. ;) I like his writing attitude. He's like the black and white Thin Man movies of mystery books. Here's my collection of Rex Stout books...
The collection is almost but not totally complete. However, the age range of the paperbacks is perfect, and some of the covers are fabulous. Nero Wolfe and Archie Goodwin rock.