Mark Twain -- Image courtesy of the Library of Congress
This January will find millions of Americans looking to get 2017 off to the best possible start in a number of different ways. January is a great month to sign up for a gym membership and work on getting in better shape. It’s a good time to become more generous and start giving to charity more often.
January is also National Book Blitz Month, so it’s a fantastic time to start reading more often as well. What better place to start than with some of the very best American authors of all time? The following are just a few of our personal favorites.
When you think of American writers who were truly in a class by themselves, Mark Twain is probably one of the first people who comes to mind. Born Samuel Clemens in Florida, Missouri, Twain is most famous for penning classics like The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
and Tom Sawyer
. He’s second to none when it comes to witty, highly readable satirical prose.
Born in Putnam County, Georgia, Pulitzer Prize winner Alice Walker is a true master when it comes to lyrical prose, fantastic characters, and flawless storytelling. She is best known for masterpieces like The Color Purple
and Possessing the Secret of Joy
. She’s also a must-read for anyone interested in exploring the finest in African-American literature.
’s Harper Lee may have only officially published one great American novel (To Kill a Mockingbird
). However, its portrayal of race relations during the 1930s makes it enough of a must-read to earn her a spot on any list of great American authors.
John Steinbeck – Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
Hailing from Salinas, California, John Steinbeck’s riveting stories speak to the social conscience of our entire nation, making his novels as relevant and poignant today as they were back when they were first written. His stories include characters of multiple ethnic groups, as well as migrant workers, sharecroppers, and multiple immigrant groups. We especially love Of Mice and Men
, Tortilla Flat
, and The Grapes of Wrath
Along with fellow Beat Generation
writers like William S. Burroughs and Allen Ginsberg, Massachusetts-born Jack Kerouac is considered to be one of the greatest literary iconoclasts of the last century. He is well-known for addressing issues like drugs, travel, poverty, spirituality, and promiscuity through his unique style of spontaneous prose. That said, it’s not hard to see why classics like his On the Road
are considered absolute must-reads for any serious literature buff.
F. Scott Fitzgerald
Originally hailing from St. Paul, F. Scott Fitzgerald is considered the quintessential author when it comes to the aspirations, values, and excesses of the Jazz Age. His greatest works include This Side of Paradise
, The Beautiful and the Damned
, and The Great Gatsby
, which is widely considered to be one of the greatest novels written during the entire 20th
century. Consider either rereading Gatsby
this January or checking out some of Fitzgerald’s many short stories on the Jazz Age for a change of pace.
Ernest Hemingway – Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
Born in Oak Park, Illinois
, Ernest Hemingway is universally considered to be one the greatest writers of his entire generation. He is best known for his succinct yet riveting style of prose, as well as his action-packed stories about war, boxing, and bullfighting. Many of his novels – like A Farewell to Arms
, to name just one example – also address the intricacies of human relationships.
An Indianapolis native, Kurt Vonnegut enjoyed a literary career that spanned five decades. During that time, he published 14 novels as well as multiple plays, short stories, and non-fiction works. Slaughterhouse-Five
may be+- his most popular and influential work, but his trademark dark satire makes all of his works well worth a read, especially for serious literature lovers.
Stories like The Scarlet Letter
that address topics like guilt, sin, witchcraft, and other topics make Massachusetts-born Hawthorne a shoo-in for any list of American greats. However, it’s important not to underestimate the value of his short stories, as well. Collections like Twice-Told Tales
and Mosses from an Old Manse
are filled with gems that any avid reader is sure to appreciate.
Of course, there are many more fantastic American writers who are well worth reading than we could possibly list here. Who are your favorites and what will you be reading for National Book Blitz Month?