For so many, our college days are a seminal time of discovery and new direction. When you make discoveries in college, they make lasting impressions. And books! Books you discover in college stay with you, shape you, change you, challenge you and influence you. They are, as one writer friend wrote, “our literary epiphanies.”
Well, recently good friend and inn-keeper to the literati, Darla Upton McCorkle asked some of her author friends to share their own list of college discoveries. I enjoyed reading the list of books that stayed in these author’s minds throughout the years. It's interesting to see how the classics still influence some of today's best-selling authors.
For me, it was Jack Kerouac’s ON THE ROAD, all things Hemingway and Raymond Carver’s short stories that left a lasting imprint.
Marybeth Mayhew Whalen - Southern authors like Lee Smith, Kaye Gibbons, Clyde Edgerton, Tim McLaurin.
Karen Essex - Playwrights: Harold Pinter, Edward Bond, Tom Stoppard, Luigi Piradello. And Virginia Woolf. Can't grow up without reading her!
Kathryn Casey - It was the seventies, the epicenter of the women's movement, so I was really into women authors, Doris Lessing, Margaret Atwood, Joyce Carol Oates, Sylvia Plath. Of course, THE WOMEN'S ROOM, by Marilyn French was a rallying point for many. I should reread some of those books!
Mark Benford - I recommend Robert J. Sawyer, particularly, "Calculating God" and his Neanderthal Parallax ("Hominids", "Humans" and "Hybrids"). I also enjoyed "FlashForward" which was the first book of his I discovered. This was in the last couple years, though, not college discoveries, but I think they're good for that age, too.
Kathy Louise Patrick - I had an English teacher that insisted I do a paper on Jane Austin of which I was not even excited about, been done to death. So she suggested from her list of authors Larry McMurtry! Big fan and read everything I could get my hands on. Also, Kurt Vonnegut, Jack London, Charles Dickens and Oscar Wilde.
Jamie Ford - Harlan Ellison. More of a rediscovery.
Jenny Gardiner - Jim Morrison biography No One Here Gets Out Alive. Required reading for a class I had.
Amy Bourret - Add Peter Taylor and Walker Percy to that Southern list. And if you really want "discovery," the kama sutra and an atlas.
Ad Hudler - Easy answer: The Brothers Karamazov
Judy Christie - Eudora Welty's "A Curtain of Green," which includes my all-time favorite short story, "Why I Live at the P.O." Kate Chopin's "The Awakening." "Crime and Punishment" by Dostoyevsky. This will be a fun conversation to have on your patio when the weather cools off!
Lisa Wingate - Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee -- not sure if I read it for a class or just because, but it sticks out in my memory, and Gone With the Wind, To Kill a Mockingbird, an anthology of Will Rogers, and The Screwtape Letters
What authors and books were YOUR college discoveries?