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Monday, July 4, 2011

Top 5 Greatest Authors of All Time

I was first introduced to the joy of  fiction self-reading in the 3rd grade when I joined the Library Club (Huh? I was a nerd? That couldn't be!), prior to that it was all text books and coloring books for me. I was given my first library card and was taught where to find books of interests by using the catalog cards in the card catalog cabinets but I never had any use for it because I already knew the section where my favorite books were. Our library was divided into sections for grade school and high school students. The library for college students was located in another building. The whole new experience of being surrounded with so many books that you may borrow home and read on your own was exciting!

We were also taught on the book borrowing procedure: Check the inside back cover of the book and look for the book card then present it to the librarian together with the library card so the librarian could record on both cards the title of the book, the author and the book number, the date it was borrowed and the return due date. We were allowed to take home 3 books at a time for 1 week and borrow again once we return the first ones.  This exercise of responsible borrowing proved to be a good training in the future not only in the handling of my finances but also in my job as a loan consultant.

Going back, I carefully choose the books I would take home with me. I would finish up my snack really fast and skip playing with my classmates during recess time so that I'd have extra time in my 30-minute break to spend in the library to choose the books I would take home with me. I remember feeling very disappointed whenever I hear the bell ring to signal that recess time is over because I haven't made up my mind yet which books to borrow after school. (Geez, confirmed! I was a nerd alright! Obsessed with a non-social hobby!).

I liked hardbound fairytale books with many different stories in it and beautiful illustrations. It didn't matter if they're large and too heavy for me to carry. But soon, I got tired of these books after reading more than 10 different versions of Cinderella, Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, Little Red Riding Hood, Alice in Wonderland and even Mr. Humpty Dumpty! Looking back now, I realized that I wasn't really obsessing on these fairytale stories when I kept borrowing different books with the same subjects.  Yes, the books may have the same plot,  but the story telling by each author was never the same. Nevertheless, I was still bored. So, the following school year, I transferred to Drama Club (It seems I turn to theatrics and drama when bored haha. I think I had a similar situation in college which I blogged about. Read here.) We could only choose one club for the whole school year and I knew I made a mistake because I found my new club so uneventful especially after I was cast as a swaying tree in one of our stage plays with real leaves as my costume! Ugh!

On my 5th grade, I came back to the Library Club ready for the more advanced fictional book section... mystery novels! At first, the books in this section were not too encouraging. They're also hardbound but were oddly sized compared to the giant sized fairytale books I was used to. The illustrations also were not as colorful and pretty, I thought they were really for older kids. But I gave it a go anyway, and was soon swooned to the adventurous and mysterious world of Nancy Drew! Fiction became more fascinating because I was now into series! In High School, I moved to more serious stuff... romance! I was now buying my own collection of  Sweet Dreams and Sweet Valley High pocketbooks.

Buying and owning a book is a much joyful experience. I could stand for an hour in a bookstore reading the gist of the stories usually found at the back of the books before making my decision which ones to buy (sometimes I buy as many as 5 at a time which I always regret later on when I fall short for my school allowance.). It's weird that I also like the smell of new book! When I reach home I'd eat dinner fast to be alone with my new book, careful not to crease it as I turn each page.

Then I got so busy with school stuff and my social life that I totally lost time for fiction. Until I visited an older cousin and saw her collection of paperbacks. Se had like more than a hundred, all neatly lined up (and locked up!) on her glass bookshelves. I was not familiar with any of the authors' names (not surprising, considering my background in fiction books, duh!) but she said they were the best and lent me one of her most favorite, The Other Side of Midnight by Sidney Sheldon.

She was definitely right! The book was the best I've ever read at the time. I devoured it in just one sitting and reread it several times after, savoring its goodness. The suspense was so gripping it invoked the reader's raw emotions. The plot was impeccably woven with no loopholes  from beginning until it climaxed and settled down to a resolution and still managed a twist in the denouement! The subject was a little mature for me back then but I was convinced that it could actually happen in real life. I've never encountered such powerful writing that left so much impact on me as a reader that I could actually feel for the protagonist and the other characters as well. They just all came alive!

I now have a complete collection of Sydney Sheldon Novels from his very first one in 1969, The Naked Face to his last novel in 2004 Are You Afraid of the Dark.

I pay tribute to the geniuses of the authors whose literary works gave me so much inspiration. They are a strong influence not only to my passion and style of writing but also to my philosophy in life.  
1. Sydney Sheldon (February 11, 1917 – January 30, 2007) - Genre: Fiction - Suspense,Thriller, Mystery
Must read: The Other Side of Midnight, Rage of Angels, Bloodline (better if you could read all his works.)
Very masterful in his style of gripping suspense, you'll keep on reading until you reach the last chapter. He could  definitely keep his readers where he wanted them to be, deeply burrowed in his book.
2. Anne Rice October 4, 1941 - Genre: Gothic Fiction - Supernatural, metaphysical
Must Read: The Vampire Chronicles, my favorites are Memnoch the Devil and  The Queen of the Damned.
Her works are not for the faint of heart. Her changing philosophy, convictions and views on faith, religion and morality may have you examine or even doubt your own.

3. Agatha Christie (15 September 1890 – 12 January 1976) - Genre: Fiction - Mystery, Crime, Suspense
 Must Read: Ten Little Indians
Her murder mystery writing style lets in her readers on the big question, "whodunit?" It allows them active participation making the twists more exciting.
4. Warren Adler (1929) - Genre: Fiction - Contemporary Life, Romance, Suspense
 Must Read: Fiona Fitzgerald Mysteries, War of the Roses
Mostly written contemporary novels that captured the human's complex and true nature on love, betrayal and hatred.

5. Saint Paul (c. AD 5 – c. AD 67) - Genre: Epistle - Religion
Must Read: Saint Paul is the only non fiction writer in my list of favorite authors. I am not yet through reading his work but I recommend his Letter to the Romans and Letter to the Corinthians.
Readers of the modern  21st Century, especially women,  may be aghast with his epistles pertaining to their roles in the Church as compared to men. However, it should be considered that the prevailing social norms during the era these letters were written were very much different. Nonetheless, the distinctive Pauline style of writing raised disputes on the authorship's authenticity of at least 7 of the 14 epistles attributed to him.

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