Following is authors 25-50. Go here to see authors listed 1-25.
26. Allen Ginsberg – I was 26 when I first read Howl. Ten years later I’m still puzzled.
27. Jack London – I was 13 and took a summer reading course at Xavier University in Chicago. We studied “To Build a Fire.” Words are inadequate to express how this tale of a boy and his dog and how nature can make enemies of us all. Amazing.
28. Aleksandr Isayevich Solzhenitsyn – Lest we romanticized communism, Mao, Lenin and Stalin, reading his The Gulag Archipelago will set us straight right quick on the evils of these regimes. He died in 2008 but his powerful words live on.
29. Maya Angelou – she’s on this list for one reason – Phenomenal Woman. Like every black teenage-girl I memorize this poem before I actually knew what it meant.
30. Nikki Giovanni – I actually met her at a conference once she’s diminutive but dominant, a poet who could sling power with her pen Nikki is black nationalism with a female touch.
31. Gwendolyn Brooks -I met her also at my father’s college graduation. Her “We Real Cool,” was all over Chicago’s city buses and I used to sing her poems on my way home.
32. Sun Tzu – His Art of War written in the 6th century is still fascinating today. It’s my office politics blueprint.
33. Ernest Hemingway – A Farewell to Arms is the most masculine/tender love story I’ve ever read.
34. Tom Clancy – He writes romance novels for dudes
35. Octavia Butler – most people have never heard of her but she’s want I want to be – an African-American female sci-fi writer.
36. Adolphus Huxley – A Brave New World was a spooky, riveting look into the future of a human race with no God and no soul. I didn’t agree with it but I loved reading it.
37. Orson Scott Card – My favorite sci-fi writer this guy is truly a master at action, believability, and suspense. His Ender’s Game series is fantastic.
38. August Wilson – OK so he’s a playwright but no one does working class black with dignity better than August.
39. Lorraine Hansberry – I stand corrected. No one does working class black with dignity better than A Raisin in the Sun.
40. Gay Talese – He’s mostly a magazine writer – his profile of Frank Sinatra reigns supreme – but he did write books as well. A master of language, interviewing, style and tone Gay’s writings are a master’s level course on writing well.
41. Jon Franklin – this two-time Pulitzer Prize winner wrote the best book about feature writing out there.
42. William Strunk – if everyone read his Elements of Style and practiced what it preached this would be a better world.
43. Truman Capote – Though his famous non-fiction novel was criticized later for being not as non-fiction as he says this man can write his perfectly coiffed pants off.
44. Lord Byron – this cheeky fellow shares the same first name as my dad and his She Walks in Beauty made me not hate poetry so much.
45. Mary Shelley – she wrote the definitive horror novel in one night on a dare. Unbelievable.
46. Edgar Allen Poe – Can there be anyone whose literary work has been misinterpreted on-screen more than Poe’s? Please actually read his work and do not pay attention to Hollywood’s version.
47. St. Augustine – St. Augustine plays the referee between my intellect and my faith. He’s amazingly brilliant and yet so aware of our insignificance as humans.
48. James Joyce – He showed me that Irish folk were my brothers in arms and his Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man was a joy to read.
49. Joseph Conrad – Heart of Darkness is his famous work but it’s Lord Jim that I’ve marked up 100 different ways. An amazing writer with some imperialism problems sometimes I still can’t put Joseph down.
50. W.E.B. DuBois – Few people can articulate the post-slavery experience, the struggle between house and field, the dichotomy of black folk who, as Condi Rice says, loved American even when American didn’t always love us than DuBois. Born of the black elite but always cognizant of the sharecropper DuBois provided a brilliant assessment of a post-slavery world.