Well this hasn't taken me 15 minutes, it's taken me more like 15 days. I don't know what that says about my level of literacy, but here goes:
Shel Silverstein - I love this guy's poems and his illustrations even more. A brilliant genius. Some of his stuff makes me incredibly sad. I do not suggest drinking and reading Shel's work.
Laura Ingalls Wilder - peeps, I'm from Minnesota. Little House on the Prairie is a cornerstone of my formative years. LHOP (or in German they call it "Our Little Farm"). These tales are a Midwestern classic. As far as I'm concerned, every little girl in the world should at some point in her life be given the complete box set as a gift that will last her a lifetime. *TJ thumps chest cavity twice*
Samuel Clemens aka Mark Twain - I love Huck Finn but I also just love a guy with a pen name. Hey maybe he's the whole inspiration behind my weirdo German alias on Facebook!
Dr. Suess - ahhh Teddy Geisel. And another duel identity. His "real life" story is a bit tragic and sad but nonetheless a brilliant creative who kept at it despite repeated rejection early on in his career. A hero.
Judy Blume - I don't know if it was just because she was racy enough to write about menstruation or if it was just so fun to finally get to read chapter books. Ramona rocked. Oh wait that was Beverly Cleary. (thanks Sarah!)
John Irving - I'd never read him until I lived in England. Although I hate when writers write about writers, my exception is his most recent canadian logging story, Last Night in Twisted River. The guy is amazing. A Widow for One Year has been one of my faves. I hope he moves to Germany to research for a new novel. I have fantasies of studying the culture with him. A girl can dream.
Elizabeth Gilbert - when I read what she writes, I feel like a have a soul mate. Spooky and wonderful. I wrote about my Kindle experience with her book Committed before, and I can recommend it to anyone interested in relationships between people of different nationalities.
Anne Lamott - makes me laugh until I cry. She's another soul sister. I like to believe I was related to her in another life. I admire the way she writes about her own mind. Her book Operating Instructions was a wonderful read during my early pregnant days in Germany.
James Patterson - (and throw in John Grisham and Dean Koontz too). These fellas, well they give me a thrill. They write entertaining scary stuff. Some better than others. And I like the sensation of being scared. Not "too" scared. But a little nervous to go to bed. I think it's healthy.
Augusten Burroughs - his childhood is so freaky amazing, I would read anything he wrote just because he's a fascinating human being. Another brave guy out there fighting the world with a pen. Although he's famous for Running With Scissors, I personally loved Dry.
Wally Lamb - big books impress me.
There's room here for The Diary of Anne Frank, Jane Eyre, Gone With the Wind, and Grapes of Wrath (which I do think is one of the weirdly best books every written) - but I imagine they're not exactly surprises. And suddenly I've shifted to books instead of their authors.
So last but not least, what I really want to share with you is one that I don't think many people know about. My absolute favorite book ever written:
Lucia St. Clair Robson - Ride the Wind- the amazing fictional tale based on the real-life abduction of Cynthia Ann Parker, a settler child who is taken by Native Americans. It's not only a fascinating story, but extremely well researched and therefore historically interesting. I've read it several times, savoring it every few years.
Friends, this post took 4-eveh to formulate, so let me know if you go read any of these suggestions. And if you like my list, feel free to pass it along. Or better yet, take a second to comment and tell me what your favorite book is. Or make your own Fab 15 list and link on back! I'd love to see what's on all your bookshelves...