The Ages of Those We Read on Pages

birthdayI don’t think I’ve ever published a blog post on my birthday before, so I’ll “celebrate” by listing some novelists I love or like and how old they are. Why? Because it’s easier to make a list than to write a regular blog post of the kind I’ll resume next week. πŸ™‚

Anyway, here goes — with a great or very good book by each author included:

Alison Lurie, born September 3, 1926 (93 years old), Foreign Affairs.

Cormac McCarthy, July 20, 1933 (86), Blood Meridian.

Wole Soyinka, July 13, 1934 (85), The Interpreters.

Mario Vargas Llosa, March 28, 1936 (84), Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter.

A.S. Byatt, August 24, 1936 (83), Possession.

Lois Lowry, March 20, 1937 (83), The Giver.

Margaret Drabble, June 5, 1939 (80), The Witch of Exmoor.

Margaret Atwood, November 18, 1939 (80), The Handmaid’s Tale.

J.M.G. Le Clezio, April 13, 1940 (79), Desert.

Anne Tyler, October 25, 1941 (78), The Accidental Tourist.

John Irving, March 2, 1942 (78), The Cider House Rules.

Isabel Allende, August 2, 1942 (77), The House of the Spirits.

Martin Cruz Smith, November 3, 1942 (77), Gorky Park.

Peter Straub, March 2, 1943 (77), Ghost Story.

Janet Evanovich, April 22, 1943 (76), One for the Money.

Michael Ondaatje, September 12, 1943 (76), The English Patient.

Marilynne Robinson, November 26, 1943 (76), Housekeeping.

Alice Walker, February 9, 1944 (76), The Color Purple.

Fannie Flagg, September 21, 1944 (75), Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe.

Rita Mae Brown, November 28, 1944 (75), Rubyfruit Jungle.

Stephen King, September 21, 1947 (72), From a Buick 8.

Richard Russo, July 15, 1949 (70), Empire Falls.

Julia Alvarez, March 27, 1950 (70), In the Time of the Butterflies.

Laura Esquivel, September 30, 1950 (69), Like Water for Chocolate.

Terry McMillan, October 18, 1951 (68), Waiting to Exhale.

Walter Mosley, January 12, 1952 (68), Devil in a Blue Dress.

Amy Tan, February 19, 1952 (68), The Joy Luck Club.

Philippa Gregory, January 9, 1954 (66), Earthly Joys.

Lee Child, October 29, 1954 (65), 61 Hours.

John Grisham, February 8, 1955 (65), The Client.

Barbara Kingsolver, April 8, 1955 (64), The Poisonwood Bible.

Colm Toibin, May 30, 1955 (64), Brooklyn.

Lisa Scottoline, July 1, 1955 (64), The Vendetta Defense.

Geraldine Brooks, September 14, 1955 (64), March.

Peter Hoeg, May 17, 1957 (62), Smilla’s Sense of Snow.

Lionel Shriver, May 18, 1957 (62), So Much for That.

Louise Penny, July 1, 1958 (61), How the Light Gets in.

Jonathan Franzen, August 17, 1959 (60), The Corrections.

Neil Gaiman, November 10, 1960 (59), American Gods.

Arundhati Roy, November 24, 1961 (58), The God of Small Things.

Suzanne Collins, August 10, 1962 (57), The Hunger Games.

Michael Chabon, May 24, 1963 (56), The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay.

Donna Tartt, December 23, 1963 (56), The Goldfinch.

J.K. Rowling, July 31, 1965 (54), Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.

Liane Moriarty, November 15, 1966 (53), Big Little Lies.

Jhumpa Lahiri, July 11, 1967 (52), The Lowland.

Lisa Genova, November 22, 1970 (49), Still Alice.

Zadie Smith, October 25, 1975 (44), White Teeth.

John Green, August 24, 1977 (42), The Fault in Our Stars.

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, September 15, 1977 (42), Half of a Yellow Sun.

Fredrik Backman, June 2, 1981 (38), A Man Called Ove.

Kate Quinn, November 30, 1981 (38), The Huntress.

Eleanor Catton, September 24, 1985 (34), The Luminaries.

Some favorite living authors you’d like to mention who I didn’t list?

My literary-trivia book is described and can be purchased here: Fascinating Facts About Famous Fiction Authors and the Greatest Novels of All Time.

In addition to this weekly blog, I write the award-winning β€œMontclairvoyant” topical-humor column for Baristanet.com. The latest piece — which gives local plots to novels that my town’s residents could read during the coronavirus pandemic — is here.

65 thoughts on “The Ages of Those We Read on Pages

    • Thank you, Shehanne! A birthday earlier in the pandemic. πŸ™‚ 😦

      Yes, many long-lived authors, though of course a number of exceptions who unfortunately died young or relatively young — many of them decades or centuries ago. Jane Austen, Edgar Allan Poe, The Bronte sisters, Stephen Crane, Oscar Wilde, Jack London, Jaroslav HaΕ‘ek, Franz Kafka, F. Scott Fitzgerald, George Orwell, Albert Camus, Sylvia Plath, John Kennedy Toole, Stieg Larsson, David Foster Wallace…

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Dave, I wonder if you or any of the commenters here could help translate something for me? One of the ladies at book club (which of course is entirely online at the moment) asked about reading multiple books at the same time because she wants to be able to read more. I said I get bored if I don’t have two or three on the go, but of course, it takes longer to get through them. She then said something about she goes weeks without reading anything. I have no idea what this means? Weeks? Hours I can understand, but surely she didn’t mean weeks?

    Liked by 1 person

    • LOL, Susan! Great to wake up (here in the U.S.) to a laugh like that. πŸ™‚ Yes, weeks without reading feels like it doesn’t compute. Perhaps only America’s “dear leader” Trump — who is of course notoriously averse to looking at the written word — can relate to going weeks without reading. But I’m sure the book club member you mentioned is a MUCH nicer person.

      Very glad that your club is continuing, albeit online.

      As we’ve discussed before, I’m a one book at a time person. But it’s nice that two or three at a time works for you and many others. πŸ™‚

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      • Being that laughs are as rare as toilet paper, I’m glad I could help πŸ™‚

        There’s definitely no wrong or right to reading. One or more at a time, popular or literary fiction, long books, short books, real books or escapism – if you like reading, you’ll make time.

        I found it funny that she started her message by saying she wanted tips to read multiple books so that she could get more reading done. And now I just want to say you’re not going to get any reading done if you don’t read!

        But now seems to be a very good time to be kind to people, so I’ll refrain from commenting and just voice my amazement here. Thank you for allowing me to do so πŸ™‚

        Liked by 1 person

        • Totally agree, Susan! Whatever way people go about reading is fine with me. πŸ™‚

          But, yes, if a person who isn’t reading is thinking about reading multiple books at a time, they might possibly consider the intermediate step of…reading one book at a time.

          Being kind while venting elsewhere is the perfect combination!

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  2. Thanks, Dave. And happy birthday. You share a birthday with my stepson Chris, a special-needs adult who turned 50 today. We had to have the party in the driveway of his group home, keeping socially distant. Sigh. I see no one on your list born on my birth date, Jan. 18. Hmmmm.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Bill!

      Happy Birthday to Chris! Reaching 50 is definitely a milestone. Sorry it happened at a time of social distancing. 😦

      There MUST be a highly regarded author born on January 18. Got one! You. πŸ™‚

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  3. Happy belated Birthday sweetie. Thanks for the list. Geezaloo, what good timing! I’m all read out at home, and trying not to go crazy buying ebooks so I went to Project Gutenberg, thinking I’ll read the entire Oz collection. I could use a trip to the Emerald City, what’s a nasty old witch compared to this pandemic. Stay safe. Hugs and Kisses to everybody, keep your chins up. Susi

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Susi! πŸ™‚

      I hear you about being all read out at home. So many libraries temporarily closed, and some of us don’t have lots of room to buy and shelve more (print) books. L. Frank Baum’s Oz novels (I’ve read the first, classic one) sound like a nice distraction these days. And — ha! πŸ™‚ — the wicked witch is indeed small potatoes compared to a pandemic. And has a better hat…

      Stay safe, too!

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  4. What a coincidence! March 29 is the birthday of one of my favourite writers! His memoir Comic (and Column) Confessional is both touching, and very funny.

    I’m guessing March and April babies aren’t doing much celebrating on their birthdays but I hope that you and your family are keeping safe and healthy.

    Sue ❀

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ha! Thank you, Susan, for those very kind words! πŸ™‚

      Yes, kind of a mixed-feelings time to have a birthday. Tried to change it, but the “Bureau of Switching Your Birthday to December” was one of many places closed during this pandemic…

      The best of health to you, too! (And thanks again for recommending Eleanor Catton — the youngest author on my list!)

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      • Yes, I spotted her down the bottom there πŸ™‚

        I was lucky enough to be born on John Lennon’s birthday. A friend of mine, who is a huge Beatles fan demanded that we swap. So I guess I moved my birthday to December, but I’m not sure how successfully as he still calls me each October to wish me a happy birthday πŸ™‚

        Liked by 1 person

        • John Lennon’s birthday — nice, Susan! (Not far from my two daughters’ September 30 birthdays.) Ha — funny description of how your Beatles-fan friend sought a swap. Birthdays “Here, There and Everywhere”…

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  5. Hope you’re having a fantastic birthday, Dave. You shouldn’t be expected to put full energetic blog force on your birthday but your list reveals that you’ve done some research. I noticed that Colm Toibin is only a couple of weeks younger than me and Peter Hoeg is exactly two years, to the day, younger than me. Lionel Shriver is two years and one day younger. I was trying to think if there are any still active authors any older than the oldest on your list, Alison Lurie. I’m sure there might be but I don’t feel like tracking down that information at the moment. I’m sure there are a few authors younger than your youngest here, Eleanor Catton, but again, I don’t feel like exerting the effort at the moment. I think I’m definitely affected by some isolation apathy.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, bobess48!

      Well, Wikipedia can make basic research go quickly. πŸ™‚ And, like you, I particularly noticed which authors were near my age.

      I hear you about isolation apathy. I’m not affected so much in terms of work because I write at home anyway, but I know you usually work in a library.

      As for oldest authors, YA and children’s writer Beverly Cleary is 103, but doesn’t seem to have been published recently. And I agree that there are probably a good number of fairly well-known novelists in their 20s or early 30s, but I can’t cite any offhand.

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  6. Happy Birthday, Dave! I’m keeping this as treasure trove of names as my reading list for the coming years. And because you know that I love quotes, I will give you the one I have had for my most recent birthdays. And of course, it must come from the great bard: With mirth and laughter let old wrinkles come.” William Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you, Clanmother, for the birthday wishes and for another great/relevant quote! Shakespeare does often come in handy. πŸ™‚ And it’s astounding how many famous lines he crafted more than 400 years ago.

      Liked by 2 people

      • I think it was Mary Catherine Bateson who wrote that we are now entering the β€œage of active wisdom.” I’m waiting for my wisdom to become active. I will be discussing the matter with Misty, our resident philosopher!

        Liked by 2 people

        • LOL, Clanmother! I think Misty the cat insisted on reading the British version of the first “Harry Potter” book (“Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone”) rather than the American version (“Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone”). πŸ™‚

          “I’m waiting for my wisdom to become active” — ha! πŸ™‚ At a time of pandemic-era isolation, it’s harder to be active in anything!

          Liked by 2 people

  7. Quite a few of the novelists and books you mentioned are among my favorites. I’ve also been reading many novels since the first of the year, but my go-to authors have been Ruth Ware and Louise Penny. You mentioned Penny on your list, and I’ve just read her latest three Inspector Gamache mysteries; it’s been great to catch up on those after my reading drought. My newest favorite is Ruth Ware and I’ve recently read four of her psychological crime thrillers. I can’t find her birthday anywhere on line, but she was born in 1977. I’m hard pressed to pick just one, but I’ll go with “The Turn of the Key” for the title alone — it’s about a young woman who takes a job in Scotland as a nanny in a house that is half country manor and half technological marvel.

    Liked by 2 people

      • Thank you, Kat Lit, for the birthday wishes and for the book comment! I really enjoyed the Louise Penny novel I mentioned in the post after you recommended her work to me, and I just put a note on my reading list to try Ruth Ware. “The Turn of the Key” sounds excellent and intriguing, and it’s great that Ware is a relatively young author!

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        • Dave, I’m feeling somewhat guilty about something, and I know you’d understand. I’m almost out of crime fiction to read, and I don’t feel like rereading those on my shelves. I need to read those kinds of books because they really grab my attention and are comforting to me, especially now going through total isolation (except for some visits from Bill). So, I got an email from Thriftbooks the other day, and it spurred me to order ten used books (mostly paperbacks), by some favorite authors of mysteries/suspense/thrillers. I’m trying to watch what I order online and questioning whether something is absolutely necessary before I do. I worry about exposure to shippers/deliverers and me, but I’m back to thinking that books are essential to my comfort and general wellbeing. Thoughts?

          Liked by 1 person

          • Thank you for your important comment, Kat Lit. I totally agree that books are essential — nowadays more than ever. There’s always a bit of a risk ordering something these days, and of course when going to the supermarket. 😦 But we all need to live life somewhat. When I asked my wife to get me some books for my recent birthday because the local library was closed, I realized that mailed packages could have some exposure — whether the books inside are used or new. But read we must. πŸ™‚ I understand the guilt, and felt it, too.

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            • I’ll consider buying books my guilty pleasure, but I’ll take even more precautions than I have been when Amazon or Acme (Instacart) delivers. Food is essential, as are the hygienic and other necessities I get from Amazon. I refuse to order a mask that is needed by our medical personnel, but I’ve ordered some bandannas in case it becomes mandatory if one’s outside (even while social distancing), as well as some dishwashing gloves, just in case. Thanks, Dave! πŸ™‚

              Liked by 1 person

              • A guilty pleasure or two is definitely allowed, Kat Lit! πŸ™‚

                I admire your thinking about masks. Yes, they’re most needed by medical people, and they don’t have nearly enough. Not enough ventilators for patients, either. Happens when an evil incompetent is president of the country. 😦 😦

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                • Ha! So much for trying to be somewhat responsible in ordering ten books– just one big box, I thought. Instead, I’ve been getting email notifications of shipments of just one book from all different cities! So I just ordered a new Nook (mine had died in the past year) even though I much prefer paper over digital. One more box, but it will keep me happily occupied for the duration. πŸ™‚ I totally agree with your comment about our so-called leader!

                  Liked by 1 person

                  • A shame things couldn’t come in one box. I guess that’s the way things often go with online ordering. 😦 Smart idea to order a new eReader. We just got one for our younger daughter. I’ve still never wanted to use one, but if my local library ends up being closed for a couple months or more, I might reconsider.

                    The coronavirus is of course not Trump’s fault, but his response (minimizing the pandemic for too long, and then all his other ignorant, self-serving, nasty bumbling since then) has increased the number of deaths immeasurably. 😦 )

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    • If you’re in the mood for a fine thriller/mystery novel, I can recommend Tana French’s “In the Woods”. I am currently reading her second, “The Likeness”, and so far, I like it just as well, though I admit I am so distracted by the pandemic here in NYC that I can only read a dozen pages or so at a sitting. Haven’t been outside since last Tuesday!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thank you for the recommendation(s), jhNY! And I totally hear you about this pandemic being distracting.

        Sorry you haven’t been out for six days. 😦 I still take frequent walks, but I realize it’s a lot easier to do social distancing while walking in a suburb like Montclair, NJ, than in New York City.

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        • I plan to go out tomorrow for more food and to mail the rent.. I may even go for a walk, though I can’t shake the feeling that more time I spend with nobody but Mandy, the safer we’ll be. Here, the number of infected just continues to climb, which to me means as time goes by, the more likely I run into somebody sick or asymptomatic. And the longer the crisis lingers, the less likely there’ll be a hospital bed or a ventilator for me or Mandy, as we’re each past 65. I feel as if we’re on our own here, and must do what we think best– I pay some attention to Cuomo. but mostly I’m thinking for myself.

          Walked downstairs to fetch my mail yesterday, and told the doorman I hadn’t been out since Tuesday. He thanked me for behaving responsibly, from behind his mask. Strange days, these.

          Liked by 1 person

          • Good luck tomorrow! Yes, food-shopping trips must be made; I do that weekly, and the understandably crowded supermarkets are worrisome. Fortunately, the rent payments in my apartment complex are online-only.

            NYC is sadly a real epicenter of the pandemic. So many people living and commuting in close quarters is usually an exciting thing; now it’s a danger. I can totally understand how uneasy you are feeling.

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    • Thank you, jhNY!

      Well, I’ve written two nonfiction books but not a published novel, so I don’t qualify. πŸ™‚

      I’ve almost finished “She,” and it will be prominently mentioned in my April 5 or April 12 post. Intense, memorable novel!

      Liked by 1 person

        • Totally hear you, jhNY — sequels can be disappointing. I finished “She” this morning, and now I’m very curious about how Ayesha manages to return for the second book. πŸ™‚ I’m sure H. Rider Haggard came up with something creative.

          I’ve written a blog post that includes “She” for April 5, unless it gets bumped a week. A VERY eerie novel, with a haunting take on mortality (and immortality).

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  8. Ha ha πŸ™‚ Happy Birthday, Dave! I’ll play.

    Ian McEwan
    J.M. Coetzee
    Tom Robbins
    Khaled Hosseini
    Michael Cunningham
    Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni
    Amor Towles
    TΓ©a Obreht
    Lynn Austin
    Louise Erdrich
    Paul Harding
    Karl Ove KnausgΓ₯rd
    Linda Hogan
    Kazuo Ishiguro
    Joyce Carol Oates
    JosΓ© Saramago
    Thomas Pynchon
    Don DeLillo

    Liked by 4 people

    • Thank you, Mary Jo! πŸ™‚ And that’s a GREAT list! I definitely forgot to mention some authors you mentioned: McEwan (I’ve read “Atonement”), Hosseini (“The Kite Runner”), Erdrich (“The Painted Drum”), Ishiguro (“The Remains of the Day”), Oates (“Solstice”), Pynchon (“Inherent Vice”), and DeLillo (“Underworld”).

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      • You’re welcome. I’m too lazy to list their ages and which of their books I’ve read. It was enough work just verifying that some of the more elderly are still with us. For some, I’ve read all their novels, for others just a couple. And I really, really wish David Foster Wallace was still with us. He’s at the top of my list always. Thank you for your list and the titles I haven’t read yet πŸ™‚

        Liked by 4 people

        • True, Mary Jo — with some older authors, one isn’t always sure if they’re still alive or not. (Herman Wouk died less than a year ago at 103; I would’ve loved to have included him if I had done this post last March. I really liked “The Caine Mutiny” and “Marjorie Morningstar.”)

          I’ve only read one David Foster Wallace book — his nonfiction collection “Consider the Lobster” — and it was pretty darn amazing.

          Liked by 4 people

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