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Did you know that July 18 is International Authors Day? Debdatta from Bookish Indulgences with b00k r3vi3ws has organized this brand new yearly event in order to celebrate authors from around the world.

In honor of this cool literary event, I’ve got a giveaway (see below!), but first let me tell you about some of my favorite authors.

I’ve always been a huge fan of recreational reading, and as far back as I can remember, I delighted in going to the library to check out new books. I typically tore through these books quickly, and often ended up re-reading my weekly library stack, impatiently awaiting our next trip! Back when I was a kid, I loved to read books in series. I voraciously read anything by Judy Blume (Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret), Ann M. Martin (The Baby-Sitters Club), Beverly Cleary (the “Ramona” books), and even the Sweet Valley High series by Francine Pascal (which I later learned were actually ghostwritten by a team). I also enjoyed Nancy Drew mysteries, the Encyclopedia Brown series by Donald J. Sobol, and his Two-Minute Mysteries books as well.

Somewhere along the line I also discovered Shel Silverstein’s wacky poetry in Where the Sidewalk Ends, and Roald Dahl’s amazing characters like The BFG, Matilda, and The Witches.

As I graduated from the children’s section of the library, I began reading lots more mysteries, especially The Cat Who… series by Lilian Jackson Braun — most of which were passed on to me by my cat-loving aunt, who bought each paperback in the series. My aunt also passed along other books like Anne Rice’s vampire novels, and even Madame Bovary.

Besides storming the library and devouring my aunt’s recommended readings, I also enjoyed exploring my parents’ bookshelves, which contained Catch-22 by Joseph Heller and Oliver Wiswell by Kenneth Roberts — a writer with the same name as my father. (Although he jokingly referred to it as “my book,” my dad isn’t actually the famous historical novelist. He does, however, have a lot of great stories that should be turned into a book someday!)

My middle school also gave me plenty to read, including The Pearl about 3,000 times, Something Wicked This Way Comes (turning me onto Ray Bradbury), Johnny Tremain, The Count of Monte Cristo, and even a few Shakespearean plays (I definitely remember reading Romeo and Juliet and wondering why a couple of kids my age would ever want to get married, ew!).

In high school I tackled books like Great Expectations, Fahrenheit 451, The House on Mango Street, Red Emma Speaks (a collection of Emma Goldman’s anarchist writings), and even the enormous unabridged English translation of Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables. I read a lot of British authors during high school, perhaps as a result of the curriculum but also due to a common teenage interest in dystopian literature. Orwell’s 1984 and Animal Farm, as well as Huxley’s Brave New World influenced much of my world-view then. Poets like T.S. Eliot and Louis MacNeice, and humorists like Douglas Adams also took up residency in my brain. (Not to mention the Monty Python songs my BFF Jenna enjoyed singing between classes, which still haunt me to this day!)

In college I majored in Philosophy and read works from Plato and Aristotle, Descartes, Sartre, Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Heidegger, Wittgenstein, Baudrillard, Walter Benjamin, and even Eastern philosophers like Lao Tzu (or Laozi), Confucius, Mencius, Sun Tzu (Sun Zi) and Vyasa (the scribe and incarnation of Vishnu to whom the Bhagavad Gita is attributed). I found that I preferred Existentialism, and began to explore the works of more international authors like Salman Rushdie, Milan Kundera, Jeanette Winterson, Leonard Cohen, Dostoyevsky and Tolstoy. I also enjoyed reading poems by Dorothy Parker that suited my dry sense of humor, as well as her barbed book and theater reviews, which eventually inspired me to begin a little magazine of my own.

And now? My favorite authors still wander all over the map, from David Sedaris’ humorous essays to Paul Auster’s postmodern rambles to Jorge Luis Borges’ and Murakami’s magical realism to Anaïs Nin’s erotica to classics I like to re-read every year or so like Truman Capote’s Breakfast at Tiffany’s. I love novellas, mysteries, books that play with language, authors that break the rules and bend genres. I love fraud memoirs, like JT Leroy’s Sarah and James Frey’s A Million Little Pieces. I love weird and wonderful books, and the authors who made them great.

In short: I still love reading, and always wish I had more time to devote to it. But, like any author, I must eventually pull away from reading and turn back to writing my own books. Hopefully at least some of the greatness of the writers I’ve read throughout the years sticks with me and inspires my own stories to aim higher and give readers something new to ponder.

The Giveaway

To celebrate International Authors Day, I’m giving away a super awesome Book Lovers prize pack!

One lucky prize-winner will receive everything in the pack, which includes:

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AND!

I’m also giving away copies of my ebooks to the first 10 people who comment on this post. You can pick your favorite from amongst these titles:

HOW TO WIN

  • To win one of my ebooks, just comment on this post with the book you’d most like to win and why. (Winners of this contest can be based anywhere in the world.)
  • To win the Grand Prize, just follow the instructions in the Rafflecopter widget below. (Winners must be based in the U.S. for this contest.)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

DON’T FORGET TO HOP!

For a chance to win even MORE prizes, don’t forget to visit the other blogs in the International Authors Day Blog Hop. All authors are offering unique prizes on their individual sites, plus there’s a chance to win a $15 Amazon Gift Card from the hop’s organizer, Debdatta.