Tag: authorlists

Lauren Groff

Lauren Groff’s 40 Books That Make up Her Brain

Lauren Groff, the famed novelist and short story author widely known for her works The Monsters of TempletonDelicate Edible BirdsArcadiaFates and Furies, and Florida, is celebrating her fortieth birthday today and, in honor of the reunion of her birth, she took to the Twittersphere to release into the winds a list of forty books that makeup her incredibly vast, brilliant, and talented brain.



Groff has gained notoriety as one of the masters of contemporary fiction, and it’s no wonder why. Her works are bold, cutting, strange, crude, and poetic; she has a way of turning the mundane into something uniquely stunning in all of it’s simplistic beauty:


It occurred to her then that life was conical in shape, the past broadening beyond the sharp point of the lived moment. The more life you had, the more the base expanded, so that the wounds and treasons that were nearly imperceptible when they happened stretched like tiny dots on a balloon slowly blown up. A speck on the slender child grows into a gross deformity in the adult, inescapable, ragged at the edges. —Lauren Groff, Fates and Furies


She is someone who will no doubt go down in history as one of the leading novelists of the modern era, and getting to take a small glimpse at the inner workings of her mind and the pieces of writing that have helped to influence and inspire her is so, insanely exciting. 


Thanks to Groff I officially have a new summer reading list so grab a pen, jot these down, and we can journey through these works together!


1. Middlemarch by George Eliot

2. Autobiography of Red by Anne Carson

3. Ceremony by Leslie Marmon Silko

4. Wittgenstein’s Mistress by David Markson

5. Dangerous Liaisons by Choderlos de Laclos

6. The Lover by Marguerite Duras

7. Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov

8. Paradise Lost by John Milton

9. Sleepless Nights by Elizabeth Hardwick

10. The Summer Book by Tove Jansson

11. Birds of America by Lorrie Moore

12. Beloved by Toni Morrison

13. A High Wind in Jamaica by Richard Hughes

14. Light Years by James Salter

15. The Blue Flower by Penelope Fitzgerald

16. Citizen by Claudia Rankine

17. The Collected Stories of Lydia Davis by Lydia Davis

18. Odyssey by Homer

19. Mrs. Bridge by Evan S. Connell

20. Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe

21. Cane by Jean Toomer

22. A Dance To The Music of Time by Anthony Powell

23. To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf

24. So Long, See You Tomorrow by William Maxwell

25. A Girl is A Half-Formed Thing by Eimear McBride

26. The Decameron by Boccaccio

27. Inferno by Dante

28. The Visiting Privilege by Joy Williams

29. The Collected Stories by Grace Paley

30. The Vegetarian by Han Kang

31. Austerlitz by W.G. Sebald

32. NW by Zadie Smith

33. Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson

34. Tristram Shandy by Laurence Sterne

35. Gentlemen Prefer Blondes by Anita Lois

36. Coming Through Slaughter by Michael Ondaatje

37. Hadriana dans tous mes rêves by René Depestre

38. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy

39. Stories of Anton Chekhov by Anton Chekhov

40. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley


In the end, fiction is the craft of telling truth through lies.






Featured Image via The New Yorker

Cat on books

15 Quotes About Writing from Famous Authors

Whether you’re an aspiring writer, an avid reader, or none of the above you can’t help but admit the power and influence the written word has on us all. Writing can be cathartic, informative, distracting, devastating, connecting, and everything in-between.


I love writing and words and all the ways in which they can effect our lives so much (seriously) that I’m at a complete and total loss for them right now. 


So, I’m just going to let these fifteen quotes from famous authors do the rest of the talking.



“If I waited for perfection…I would never write a word.” —Margaret Atwood




“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” —Maya Angelou



“I write entirely to find out what I’m thinking, what I see and what it means. What I want and what I fear.” —Joan Didion



“Lock up your libraries if you like; but there is no gate, no lock, no bolt that you can set upon the freedom of my mind.”—Virginia Woolf



“Who wants to become a writer? And why? Because it’s the answer to everything. … It’s the streaming reason for living. To note, to pin down, to build up, to create, to be astonished at nothing, to cherish the oddities, to let nothing go down the drain, to make something, to make a great flower out of life, even if it’s a cactus.” —Enid Bagnold




“We write to taste life twice, in the moment and in retrospect.” —Anaïs Nin



“And by the way, everything in life is writable about if you have the outgoing guts to do it, and the imagination to improvise. The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.”  —Sylvia Plath



“When I’m writing I know I’m doing the thing I was born to do.” —Anne Sexton



“I am writing all this down in blue ink, so as to remember that all words, not just some, are written in water.” —Maggie Nelson



“In the diary you find proof that in situations which today would seem unbearable, you lived, looked around and wrote down observations, that this right hand moved then as it does today.” —Franz Kafka



“A person who writes a book willfully appears before the populace with his pants down.” —Edna St. Vincent Millay



“Read, read, read. Read everything — trash, classics, good and bad, and see how they do it. Just like a carpenter who works as an apprentice and studies the master. Read! You’ll absorb it. Then write. If it’s good, you’ll find out. If it’s not, throw it out of the window.” —William Faulkner



Who am I? I’m just a writer. I write things down. I walk through your dreams and invent the future. Sure, I sink the boat of love, but that comes later. And yes, I swallow glass, but that comes later.” —Richard Siken



“Not all poetry wants to be storytelling. And not all storytelling wants to be poetry. But great storytellers and great poets share something in common: They had something to say, and did.” —Sarah Kay



“The secret to being a writer is that you have to write. It’s not enough to think about writing or to study literature or plan a future life as an author. You really have to lock yourself away, alone, and get to work.” —Augusten Burroughs





Featured Image Via Pinterest

Matilda reading

17 of the Best Opening Lines in Literature

The opening sentence of a book can determine a lot of things (including whether or not you decide to keep going with said book). It’s the author’s first invitation into a world of their own creation. They can be long, descriptive, run-on sentences that prepare you for everything you’re about to see; laying it all out on the table. Or, they can be short, concise, small, quiet yet poetic sentences; not revealing much, but urging you to read more. Opening sentences stick with you in a way unlike any other quotes because they are forever the first words you associate with reading that specific work. They’re the first things you see when you open the pages to chapter one. (Bonus points: they’re also the sentences you’ve read more than any other sentences if you’re at all like me and like to start re-reading books you love a lot, but never quite get around to finishing your re-reads because there are too many books and so little time.)



A good opener embeds itself in your memory; arising to your conscious at the most obscure times. They are the lines we scribble in our journals, slur to strangers when we’re tipsy at the bar, recite to ourselves when we’re sleepy on our long commutes home, quote in our poems and wedding vows, tattoo onto our bodies to prove our love of literature, and share with those closest to us in the middle of the night while we bare our souls.


And, personally, if there’s one thing I love (almost) as much as some good quotes, it’s lists of good quotes. Yay, words! Yay, opening sentences! Yay, lists!


1. The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath

“It was a queer, sultry summer, the summer they electrocuted the Rosenbergs, and I didn’t know what I was doing in New York.”


2. Gravity’s Rainbow by Thomas Pynchon

“A screaming comes across the sky.”


3. Cat’s Eye by Margaret Atwood

“Time is not a line but a dimension, like the dimensions of space.”


4. Blue Nights by Joan Didion

“In certain latitudes there comes a span of time approaching and following the summer solstice, some weeks in all, when the twilights turn long and blue.”


5. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

“It was a pleasure to burn.”


6. David Copperfield by Charles Dickens

“Whether I shall turn out to be the hero of my own life, or whether that station will be held by anybody else, these pages must show.”


7. The Book of Strange New Things by Michel Faber

“Forty minutes later he was up in the sky.”


8. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S. Thompson

“We were somewhere around Barstow on the edge of the desert when the drugs began to take hold.”


9. Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides

“I was born twice: first, as a baby girl, on a remarkably smogless Detroit day in January of 1960; and then again, as a teenage boy, in an emergency room near Petoskey, Michigan, in August of 1974.”


10. The Waves by Virginia Woolf

“The sun had not yet risen.”


11. The Time Machine by H.G. Wells

“The time traveler (for so it will be convenient to speak of him) was expounding a recondite matter to us.”


12. Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov

“Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins.”


13. Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut

“All this happened, more or less.”


14. Sellevision by Augusten Burroughs

“You exposed your penis on national television, Max.”


15. The Trial by Franz Kafka

“Someone must have slandered Josef K., for one morning, without having done anything truly wrong, he was arrested.”


16. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy

“All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.”


17. Valley of the Dolls by Jacqueline Susann

“You’ve got to climb to the top of Mount Everest to reach the Valley of the Dolls.”


Via Giphy

Via Giphy



Featured Image via The Reading Room


Famous Alcoholic Authors and the Delicious Drinks That Destroyed Them

You’re in a rut. You’ve lost your edge. You want a cocktail, but you’re bored with your typical gin and tonic, vodka cranberry, whiskey coke, etc. etc. etc. Have no fear, your favorite alcoholic authors are here for inspiration!


You know what’s not inspiring, though? Drinking yourself to death. Please drink responsibly, know your limits, and absolutely do not drink and drive. 


1. Ernest Hemingway loved… a mojito!


Hemingway and his mojito

Image via Felipe Parucci.


Make your own mojito! (Via Epicurious)


  • 2 tablespoons (1 ounce) fresh lime juice
  • 2 heaping teaspoons superfine sugar
  • 1 cup crushed ice
  • 12 fresh mint leaves, plus 5 small sprigs for garnish
  • 1/4 cup (2 ounces) white rum
  • 2 tablespoons (1 ounce) club soda


Stir lime juice and sugar together until sugar dissolves. Add ice. Rub mint leaves over rim of glass, tear leaves in half, and add to glass. Stir, add rum, remaining ice, and club soda. Stir and garnish.


2. Hunter S. Thompson loved… Wild Turkey!


Hunter S. Thompson loved Wild Turkey

Images via the Never Company, Sycamore Hills Whiskey


Thompson drank his bourbon straight, and in large quantities. Please enjoy responsibly. 


3. Edgar Allan Poe loved… brandy eggnog!


Poe Brandy Eggnog

Images via Wikipedia, My Gourmet Connection


Make your own brandy eggnog! (Via Spruce)


  • 6 large eggs, plus 2 yolks
  • 1/2 cup, plus 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 cups whole milk
  • 1/2 cup brandy, bourbon, or dark rum
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tablespoon grated nutmeg
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream, whipped to soft peaks
  • Additional grated nutmeg for garnish


Combine eggs, egg yolks, sugar, and salt in a heavy pan, whisking until combined. Continue whisking while adding milk in a slow, steady stream. Place pan on burner on lowest setting, stirring continuously until 160 degrees F and the mixture thickens to coat the back of a spoon (25-30 minutes).


Strain mixture, add brandy, bourbon, or dark rum, vanilla extract, and nutmeg. Stir and refrigerate for at least 4 hours, though the mixture can be stored for up to 3 days. Once chilled, pour heavy cream into a bowl and whip until it forms soft peaks. Fold whipped cream into custard mixture and serve in chilled glasses with nutmeg garnish.


4. Truman Capote loved… a screwdriver!


Capote drinking a screwdriver

Image via The Drinks Business


Delicious, easy, and delicious. Mix vodka and orange juice to taste.


5. Jack Kerouac loved… a margarita!


Jack Kerouac loves margs

Images via CMG Worldwide, Serious Eats

Make your own margarita! (Via Liquor.com)


  • 3/4 oz. fresh squeezed lime juice
  • Cointreau, triple sec, or your preferred orange liqueur
  • 1 & 1/2 oz. tequila blanco
  • Kosher salt (optional, but is it really?)
  • Lime wedges
  • Ice


Add ingredients to a shaker filled with ice. Shake. Strain into a chilled glass with ice. Garnish with lime wedge.


6. William Faulkner loved… mint juleps!


William Faulkner loves mint juleps

Images via Bio, Southern Fatty


Make your own mint julep! (Via Alton Brown)


  • 10 mint leaves, plus a sprig for garnish
  • 1 & 1/2 teaspoons superfine sugar
  • Seltzer water
  • Crushed ice
  • 2 & 1/2 ounces Kentucky bourbon whiskey


Place mint leaves in the bottom of an old-fashioned glass and top with sugar. Muddle until the leaves begin to break down. Add splash of seltzer water, fill glass 3/4 full with crushed ice, and add bourbon. Top with another splash of seltzer, stir, and garnish with mint.


7. F. Scott Fitzgerald loved…. Gin Rickeys!


F. Scott Fitzgerald loved gin rickeys

Images via PBS, Liquor.com


Make your own gin rickey! (Via The Spruce)


  • 2 ounces gin
  • 2​ tablespoons lime juice
  • 4​ ounces club soda
  • 1​ lime wedge


Fill a highball glass with ice, add gin and lime juice. Top with club soda and garnish with a lime wedge.


8. Charles Bukowski loved… boilermakers!


Bukowski loves boilermakers

Images via Sobotka Literary Magazine, Draft Magazine


A shot of whiskey and a beer. What’s not to like?


9. Oscar Wilde loved… iced champagne!


Oscar Wilde loved ice champagne

Images via Libcom, Cheapism


Oscar Wilde would get along with the gaggle of 24 to 26-year-old girls I consider my friends. Champagne for everyone!


10. William S. Burroughs loved… vodka coke!


Burroughs loved vodka coke

Image via Lawrence.com


A classic. Vodka, coke, and ice (debatable).


Featured image via Bar 145 Kent


These 7 Writers Started With Very Different Careers

Some of the greatest books ever written were written by accountants. Or lawyers, or construction works. The decisions you make as a little tyke don’t necessarily have to dictate who you’ll always be. Here are some of our favorite writers who did not always think they’d end up as writers, including debut novelists Isabelle Ronin and Leah Weiss! 


1. Kurt Vonnegut owned a car dealership


Saab dealership

Image Via Digital Dealer


Before his groundbreaking novel Slaughterhouse-Five, Vonnegut had a tough time supporting his family. He worked as a journalist for Sports Illustrated, and a PR exec for General Electric. Probably most bizarrely, though, he owned a Saab dealership in Massachusetts.


Regarding this part of Vonnegut’s life, his daughter, Edie Vonnegut, said, “We were part of presenting this very elegantly designed piece of technology and it felt very sophisticated. It felt more about art and cutting edge design than about cars.” It doesn’t seem too out of character if you think about it.


2. George Saunders worked as a geophysicist and swam in monkey shit


George Saunders location

Image Via Metro


Probably one of the most famous contemporary short story writers (who published his debut novel Lincoln in the Bardo this year, which is amazing), Saunders got his career start as a field geophysicist working on the Indonesian island Sumatra.


Saunders’s time as a field geophysicist didn’t last more than a couple years, though. He retired early after “swimming in a river that was polluted with monkey shit” and getting sick. But the writing didn’t immediately start then. Saunders then worked as “a doorman, a roofer, a convenience store clerk, and a slaughterhouse worker.” What a life.


3. Leah Weiss worked as an executive assistant for twenty-four years before writing her first book


Leah Weiss and If the Creek Don't Rise

Image Via Amazon


Just last month, Weiss published her insanely good debut novel If the Creek Don’t Rise. What’s crazy is she didn’t start writing until she was fifty-years-old. Before she got into writing, she worked as an executive assistant to the headmaster at Virginia Episcopal School. She did that for twenty-four years! At seventy-four-years-old, after a full career as an executive assistant, Weiss has published her first novel. Let that be a call to action for anybody feeling discouraged.


4. Stephanie Danler was (pretty unsurprisingly) a waitress



Image Via Meld Magazine


Danler’s debut novel Sweetbitter focuses on Tess, who has just moved to New York and lands a job in an upscale restaurant. She is subsequently sucked into the world of wine, food, drugs, sex, and love. Danler’s previous occupation? Unsurprisingly, it was that of server at an upscale restaurant. She actually met her editor while serving him. She now has a two book deal, a huge fanbase, and a TV adaptation of Sweetbitter on the way, produced by none other than Brad Pitt. 


5. Isabelle Ronin studied nursing before writing called her away


Isabelle Ronin and Chasing Red

Image Via Amazon


Isabelle Ronin was studying to be a nurse before her Wattpad story Chasing Red became an international sensation. Ronin was born and raised in the Philippines and moved to Canada when she was twenty. Her family were very traditional, and she was raised with traditional expectations—to graduate college, get married, and start a family. She found herself jumping from one thing to the next, looking for something about which she felt passionate. She settled on nursing for a time, however dropped out to pursue writing. Once she focused on that, she told Bookstr, it was magic. 


6. Bram Stoker was a crazy actor’s personal assistant



Image Via Get Magic


The creator of Dracula was better known during his life time as actor Hentry Irving’s personal assistant and manager of London’s Lyceum Theatre than a writer. Henry Irving was reportedly extremely famous and extremely mad. He thought Dracula was dreadful and refused to appear in any adaptations of it. Before his PA life, Stoker received his degree in maths, worked in civil service at Dublin Castle, and wrote some unpaid reviews of plays. 


7. Arthur Conan Doyle was a ship surgeon off the coast of West Africa



Image Via Asonor


Like John Watson, the fictitious narrator of the Holmes tales, Doyle was a surgeon during the 1880s. He studied medicine at the University of Edinburgh, and served as a surgeon aboard the ship SS Mayumba during a voyage on the coast of West Africa. When he returned, he started taking his writing career more seriously. In 1887, A Study in Scarlet was published and he became known for his Holmes stories. Oh, and he tried to become an ophthalmologist in the 1890s. He failed. He was bad at it.