November 1st is National Authors' Day!  An author is to book lovers what a great chef is to gourmands, what an oasis is to dehydrated desert travelers, and what a favorite teddy bear is to children.  American writers, from Hawthorne to McCarthy, from Poe to Hemingway, have isolated, distilled, described, and defined America, what it is to live here, and what it is that makes Americans who we are.

It's pretty much impossible for me to pick a favorite American writer, so I'm going to give you my top 5!

grrm

5.  George R. R. Martin! - Not necessarily part of what you'd call classic American literature, but my fantasy obsession runs too deep for me to mention favorite American writers and not include him.  If you love the TV series (i.e., if you have a pulse), give the series that the show is based on, A Song of Ice and Fire, a try!  They're pretty great!

edna

4.  Edna St. Vincent Millay! - Since she's not a novelist, she's again someone you might not think of as a classic American author, but Millay is my mother's favorite poet and she is therefore a big part of my literary history.  Her work is deeply affecting; a true emotional roller coaster.  If you're not familiar with Millay's poetry, read The Ballad of the Harp-Weaver.  It will make you cry, though, so just be advised.

mary

3.  Mary Robison! - Her postmodern novel Why Did I Ever is probably my favorite book that I ever read for a class.  Reportedly written over the course of several years with each separate snippet/section/vignette on a separate index card, the book is hilarious and touching and the easiest read of any great book ever.  Get on it.

kurt

2.  Kurt Vonnegut, Jr! - To any person who reads English, this man needs no introduction.  Cat's Cradle is one of the best books ever.  That is all.

donna

1.  Donna Tartt! - Full disclosure, I have not found time to read The Goldfinch yet.  I am, however, completely in love with The Secret History.  For a person whose other favorite books are LotR and Pride and Prejudice and The Count of Monte Cristo, I never really knew that I could find a (relatively) contemporary, non-historical, non-fantastic piece of literature that I would love as much as I love those other books.  But I found it in The Secret History.  That book rules.

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So, what do you think?