There are books you love, and then there are books you LOVE—love so passionately that you track down every single short story, novella, article, letter, and blog post written by the author of that book. Which authors’ oeuvres have you explored most thoroughly? We put that question to three of our writers.
Alexandra Silverman: I’ve read everything Ayn Rand ever wrote. I’m a Lay’s Potato Chips bet-you can’t-eat-just-one (I can’t) sort of reader. If I love a book, I’ll devour the rest of an author’s catalog like it’s salty snack food. Take Ayn Rand, for example. I picked her novella, Anthem, off a 9th grade reading list, then tackled The Fountainhead. Her political rep is messy, but her novels aren’t. Atlas Shrugged is my favorite. If you’re a fan of elegantly unified plot lines, strong female protagonists, and reasoned philosophical arguments, I think you’ll like it too. She’s a great storyteller. Trust me—this oft-vilified Soviet-born, chain-smoking narcissist is misunderstood.
Josh Sorokach: I’ve read everything Chuck Klosterman ever wrote. Klosterman’s often paradoxical and always analytical views make me feel as though I’ve unscrewed my head and poured a pot of coffee directly on top of my brain. After consuming a Klosterman book, I tend to swim a little too far out into the conversational deep end, brazenly using terms like “iconography” and “conventional moralizing” with reckless disregard for my own intellectual limitations. When someone asks me to explain myself in greater detail, I pretend to receive an urgent text and bide my time until the conversation shifts to issues I’m more suited to deconstruct, like Simpsons quotes and the ending of Karate Kid 2. Whether he’s dissecting Saved by the Bell, Billy Joel, or the idea that Say Anything irrevocably altered modern dating, Klosterman bypasses the traditional black and white and analyzes his subjects through various shades of thought-provoking grey.
Joel Cunningham: I’ve read everything China Miéville and Haruki Murakami ever wrote. I never miss a book by either of these writers. Though they couldn’t be more different on the surface (one’s British, the other Japanese; one writes stories of monsters and mutants, the other sets most of his tales in contemporary Tokyo), they are more alike than you’d think. Both tend to favor the fantastical, though Murakami generally limits himself to adding a talking cat and a dream sequence or two, while Miéville goes the ol’ “interdimensional spider-god with the ability to reshape reality” route (what, that again?). Both inject their stories with heavy doses of the weird in order to comment on our own, rather more pedestrian world—in his epic 1Q84, Murakami weaves elements of sci-fi (the mysterious appearance of a second moon over Japan) into a narrative that comments on malaise within urban Japanese culture, and Mieville’s surreal The City and the City can be read as an allegory for the way we choose each day to “unsee” atrocities in the world, because it’s easier to pretend they don’t exist. It looks like it will be a year or so before we see new material from either, so in the meantime, I have refrained from reading one book from each, just in case. You never really want to be done reading your favorite authors, do you?
Who are your “completest” authors?