Every once in a while, I’m lucky enough to find an author whose books or essays or short stories captivate me, and I want to read almost everything by him or her that I can get my hands on. For me, here are some of them:*

  • Ernest Hemingway
  • C. S. Lewis
  • George Orwell (nonfiction only, not too impressed with his fiction)

The problem is that I like them so much that there comes a point in reading them where I realize I’m hitting the limit and running out of their works. I read them, but realize the end is coming soon when finding things they’ve written becomes more and more difficult.

And now I’m adding Tony Judt, the late historian of 20th-century Europe. I’ve read Postwar, I’ve read a short set of biographies he wrote about Leon Blum, Albert Camus, and Raymond Aron. I’m now plowing through some compilations of his essays. There are still a couple of monographs by him I can read and, I hope, a few more compilations of essays. But alas, I’m hitting the limit.

Question for you all: Do you have such authors in your life? It doesn’t have to be an author, either. I suppose it could also be an artist, or director, or musician, or other type of creator.

*It’s not lost on me these are all men. That may or may not be significant.

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14 Responses to Don’t wanna run out of readings

  1. Mike Hunt Sailer says:

    George Orwell … not too impressed with his fiction

    Animal Farm is one of the greatest books ever written, and it is scary how prescient Nineteen Eighty-Four was.

    As for your question, I will listen to anything Billy Joel ever puts out. And I will read or watch or listen to anything Tony Kornheiser ever produces.

    • I like Billy Joel a lot, especially his early stuff through to about his “Matter of Trust” album. After that, I kind of lost track of his career.

      I have a lot more respect for Animal Farm than I used to, in part because I have a greater awareness of the polite “treat communism with kid gloves” attitudes among his audience. (There was a time when I thought the allegory was too forced and everything could’ve been said in a short 5 to 10 page paper.) 1984 had a certain prescience to it, but by the time I actually got around to reading it, I was probably too old.

      • Mike Hunt Sailer says:

        In case you were speaking literally, the actual name of that album is “The Bridge”. Its most famous song was probably “This is the Time” which was a very popular prom theme at that time.

        • Got it! I didn’t know the name of that album, but I think I liked all the songs on it. (The only major concert I’ve ever been to was when my sister took me to see Billy Joel perform that album’s tour in 1986.)

  2. Jaybird says:

    Walter Kaufmann. A thousand times, Walter Kaufmann.

    Start here: http://www.manslot.com/kaufmann/articles/1959_Faith_of_Heretic.pdf

    Then read (in no particular order):

    From Shakespeare to Existentialism
    Existentialism: From Dostoevsky to Sartre
    Without Guilt and Justice: From Decidophobia to Autonomy
    Tragedy and Philosophy

    His magnum opus, in my mind, is Faith of a Heretic, the book he wrote when he realized that the Harper’s essay he wrote wasn’t even a tenth long enough.

  3. aaron david says:

    Joseph Conrad
    And Maughm is starting to look that way.

    For nonfic, Braudel. And that is some serious hard work, but totally worth it.

    • Was Braudel the Annales school guy? I haven’t read him, but I like the ideas that often get attributed to him. (I imagine he’s probably more complicated than the 2-3 sentence summaries of his thoughts I’ve read here and there.)

      For Conrad, I’ve read only Heart of Darkness, but it’s probably on the list of my 50 favorite books. I haven’t read anything else by him.

  4. greginak says:

    I went through that with Wallace Stegner. I read his famous bio of John Wesley Powell which was great, then i started to dig into his fiction which was amazing. A true master. I was stunned i never heard about him in college.

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