Note: in case you can’t tell, I’m officially a brony. Expect an article about that soon.
I love to read. I learned how to read at a very early age, thanks to my mother. She read to me often and encouraged me to read on my own for fun. Through her, I learned not to see reading as a chore, but as a source of entertainment. So I will now present my favorite writers. With each one, I’ll even provide my favorite book by that writer.
10. Neil Gaiman I’m slowly getting into Neil Gaiman. I love his imagery and the way he blends into fairy tale within the trappings of his stories. He takes the familiar and makes it new, modernizing folklore for a whole new experience.
Best Work: Coraline–This story is excellent. Here’s a child who wishes she had better parents. But when gets them, she realizes they don’t really love her. They just “want” her. She realizes her parents actually love her and their restrictions are a good thing. This knowledge shows her who truly loves her. It’s the kind of story children need.
9. Rick Riordan–Rick Riordan makes mythology fun. I love how he asks what if all the myths were actually true. I believe there is nothing wrong with exposing children to mythology. He shows that the ancient world is still alive and well. We cannot do without the influence of paganism. If we do, we lose a huge part of our culture.
Best Work: Percy Jackson and the Olympians–I’m gonna cheat and count the whole series. I can’t pick one book from the series because they’re all good. I like how he re-imagines the Greek gods and even gets Hera right!
8. L. Frank Baum–If the only thing you know about Oz is what you saw in The Wizard of Oz movie, you’re missing out. That movie only scratched the surface. If you were to go deeper and read all fourteen of the books he wrote, you’d see a whole world rich in imagination. A world where all the rules are well thought out. You’ll meet Princess Ozma, who actually has responsibilities. It’s not just a title to her–she takes her royalty. I urge everyone out there who loves the Wizard of Oz–check out the books and read what you’ve been missing. You won’t be disappointed.
Best Work: The Lost Princess of Oz–Here is Ozma at her best. Against a villain who has studied her and magic and meets her as an equal. The Nome King, her usual nemesis, is a pushover compared to this new villain. The Oz books aren’t cute, flowery books. They are awesome!
7. Lloyd Alexander–Lloyd Alexander’s Chronicles of Prydain gave us an excellent take on the King Arthur mythos. Taran is a boy on a quest to become a great hero, but does not realize where true heroism lies. In each book, he comes closer to true heroism, but every time he gets a shortcut method, it’s lost.
Best Work: Taran Wanderer– The fourth book of the Chronicles of Prydain is Taran’s coming of age story. In this story, he meets the people of the Free Commots, whose life is their craft. These people sort of become an extended family for him and through them he learns many life lessons he didn’t learn on his farm. I especially love the encounter with Annlaw.
6. J.K. Rowling–Unlike some people, I actually gave Harry Potter a chance before forming an opinion. I’d get into a long diatribe about how Harry Potter isn’t evil or anti-Christian, but that’d be going off topic. Instead, I’ll just say approach her books with an open mind before forming your opinion.
Best Work: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire–I was already a fan of the Harry Potter books when I got to this book, but this book really cemented the series for me. This book caused a major change from bright and cheerful to downright dark. The stakes were raised much higher than they were in the previous books. I also like how J.K. Rowling actually expected her readers to grow with Harry. I’ve seen very few franchises actually take children that seriously.
5. Douglas Adams–For years, people have been telling me how hilarious the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series was. Then I sat down to read the books and discovered how right they were (well except for Mostly Harmless).
Best Work: Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy–If you don’t laugh at least once while reading this book you need a new sense of humor.
4) Isaac Asimov–Asimov was one of the architects of modern-day sci-fi. He came up with the three laws of robots, which we still use today. He also blended genres, came up with great post-apocalyptic stories, and more.
Best Work: Foundation series. It’s basically the Roman Empire…but in space. With robots.
3) J.R.R. Tolkien–Come on, do I even need to explain? If you haven’t read any of his stuff, you should.
Best Work: all three Lord of the Rings. If you’ve only seen the movies, you’re missing out. Sure, he takes a real long time to read, but it’s worth it.
Number 2 is a tie.
2a) C.S. Lewis–I love what he has to say about Christianity. His journey from atheist to Christian is fascinating.
Best Work: The Screwtape Letters–This is an excellent example of unreliable narrator, but then, it’s demons writing letters. At the same time, it made me realize how easily I’ve been tempted at times.
2b) Roald Dahl–He started out writing for adults and then decided to write for children. And best of all, he knew the best way was to write at their level, without talking down to them. He was scary, but then kids actually like being scared.
Best Work: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory–If you’ve seen the movie (and I’m talking about the one Tim Burton didn’t make), then you probably already know how good it is. The book is even better!
and now for the finale:
1. Mark Twain (a/k/a Samuel Longhorne Clemens): Don’t believe those claims that he was racist. He was actually the exact opposite. I love his sense of humor. My favorite line from him has to be “I have been on the verge of being an angel all my life, but it’s never happened yet.”
Best Work: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn–I was so surprised when I learned why he wrote this book. He actually was a supporter of the abolitionist movement. Even though we no longer have slavery in the United States, I still think this is a book that can teach us.