The Best Beer from All 50 States


With more than 4000 breweries in the U.S. alone, picking an absolute favorite beer can be an impossible challenge. In honor of National Drink Beer Day, we’re raising our glasses to them all—and sharing some of the country’s best brews.


Location: Birmingham, Alabama

The good people at Good People sold their first keg of beer on July 4, 2008—and haven’t slowed down since. Their lineup, which include five year-round and four seasonal brews, leans heavily toward the IPA side, though fans of the brand tend to treat their Coffee Oatmeal Stout (a.k.a. C-O-S) like a dessert.


Location: Anchorage, Alaska

You don’t have to travel to Anchorage to get a taste of what the city’s oldest brewery has to offer. Midnight Sun ships its beer—including its popular Deadly Sins series, which includes a Gluttony Triple IPA and a Belgian-style Pride Strong Ale—as far east as New York City.


Location: Tempe, Arizona

Trading in cows for hops, Four Peaks lives on what used to be the site of Tempe’s historic Borden Creamery. Though it’s an all-American kind of company, they’ve got a talent for perfecting international beer styles; Kilt Lifter, a malty, Scottish-style ale, is a particular standout.


Location: Rogers, Arkansas

Officially founded in 2013, Ozark promotes itself as making “honest beer” for honest people—and they deliver on that statement. The brewery’s small but eclectic lineup is a reflection of its surroundings, with a session-brewed American Pale Ale that boasts notes of grapefruit and cut grass.


Location: Santa Rosa, California

When it comes to local beer, Californians are truly spoiled for choice. And the stuff they’re brewing up is some of America’s best, with brands like Arrogant Bastard, Firestone Walker, and AleSmith calling The Golden State home. But Russian River is doing things just a little bit differently. Based in Sonoma County, an area better known for its vino (the brewery used to be owned by Korbel), the company is using traditional winemaking processes to brew its barrel-aged beers, including Temptation, a sour blonde ale that’s aged in chardonnay barrels.


Location: Longmont, Colorado

Oskar Blues Brewery

If beer were a popularity contest, Coors Light would take down most of its competition. But just because it’s the second most popular beer in America doesn’t mean that it’s the best Colorado has to offer. In Longmont, Colorado (about 35 miles north of Coors' home in Golden), Oskar Blues has been leading the craft-beer-in-a-can game since the early aughts—so much so that they recently opened satellite breweries in Brevard, North Carolina and Austin, Texas. And it all started with their signature beer, Dale’s Pale Ale, a strong pale ale that goes anywhere a can can.


Location: Woodbridge, Connecticut

New England Brewing Co. favors simplicity above all else, as evidenced by their slogan: “Drink it. It’s good.” They take a similarly straightforward approach with their menu of canned craft beers, with their G-Bot, an intense Double IPA, being one of their most sought-after brews.


Location: Milton, Delaware

Like the little brewery that could, Dogfish Head has parlayed what it calls its “off-centered ales for off-centered people” into a nationwide obsession. While their 90 Minute IPA is a go-to choice for heavy hops lovers, it’s the brand’s frequent pop culture collaborations—like Bitches Brew, the iconic Imperial Stout they created in honor of the 40th anniversary of Miles Davis’ album of the same name—that have gained Dogfish an obsessive following.


Location: Oakland Park, Florida

Funky Buddha

Founded in 2010, Funky Buddha is still a relative newcomer. But they’re changing the craft beer game in South Florida by taking a culinary approach to beer-making, as evidenced by seasonal varietals like Blueberry Cobbler Ale, More Moro Blood Orange IPA, and Sweet Potato Casserole Strong Ale.


Location: Athens, Georgia

The Creature Comforts brand is “driven by the promise that a curious mind leads to better living.” Which also leads to better beer. According to BeerAdvocate, four of Georgia’s five best beers are coming out of the Athens-based brewery.


Location:  Lahaina, Hawaii

Founded in 2005, Maui Brewing Co. takes much of its inspiration—and some of its ingredients—from its enviable surroundings, resulting in smooth brews like the floral Bikini Blonde Lager and the toasty CoCoNut PorTeR.


Location: Victor, Idaho

At the base of the Tetons, Grand Teton has been welcoming thirsty travelers to its brewery for nearly 30 years. Whether you’re prone to a signature brew like Old Faithful Ale, a seasonal Trout Hop Black IPA, or a cellar reserve like Double Vision Doppelbock, the company swears its difference is in the glacial run-off water it uses in its brewing process.


Goose Island's India Pale Ale
Scott Olson, Getty Images

Location: Chicago, Illinois

It says something about Goose Island that, nearly a quarter-century after pioneering the concept of bourbon-aged beer, their annual Black Friday release of (very limited) Bourbon County Brand Stouts is still one of the beer world’s most exciting events, with imbibers standing in line for hours to get their hands on a single four-pack.


Location: Munster, Indiana

Leaving “normal” to its fellow brewers, 3 Floyds’ focus is on crafting unique, artisanal-minded beers like the well-rounded, Scottish-style Robert the Bruce ale—or its barrel-aged, star anise-tinged version of that, Spazzerack! 


Location: Decorah, Iowa

In 2009, Toppling Goliath founders Clark and Barb Lewey made the leap from experimental home brewers to official ones. Their beers—including their flagship Dorothy’s New World Lager, a California Common lager—are distributed throughout northeast Iowa and southwestern Wisconsin.


Location: Lawrence, Kansas

When Free State opened in 1989, it became the first legal brewery to open in Kansas in more than a century. They’ve taken that distinction seriously, crafting a unique lineup of draft and bottled beers, like the Old Backus Barleywine Ale, which only gets better with age.


Location: Louisville, Kentucky

Against the Grain isn’t kidding about its name. In the less than five years they’ve been in business, the beloved brewpub and smokehouse has concocted hundreds of beers that are as unique in name as they are in flavor: In addition to three varietals of 5 Roses: A Rick Astley Joint, there’s Wilford Whimley, Instant Placation Libation, Sho’nuff, and Marty McFly P.A.


Location: Broussard, Louisiana

Embracing its roots, Parish Brewing mixes old-school brewing techniques with local ingredients to produce small batches of Cajun Country ales, like Canebrake, its golden Louisiana wheat ale brewed with Steen’s sugarcane syrup.


Location: Freeport, Maine

Beer. It’s what’s for dinner at Maine Beer Company. After finding great success with Lunch, a pine-tinged IPA in 2011, the company launched Dinner, its first Double IPA, in 2014. The beer, which garnered a perfect 100 score with BeerAdvocate, isn’t easy to get your hands on; subsequent brewery-only releases of the ale have sold out in hours.


Location: Baltimore, Maryland

The best way to get your Union Craft fix is straight from the tap room, where the brewery makes a community event out of beer-tasting. And they’ve succeeded in making their brews approachable, with a year-round supply of Baltimore-focused canned brews, like the hop-heavy Duckpin Pale Ale.


Location: Monson, Massachusetts

In a small red barn in the tiny town of Monson, Massachusetts, there’s a huge beer thing happening. In just five short years, Tree House Brewing has managed to take the craft beer world by storm with its small-batch, well water-crafted ales, like the chocolate-covered maple candy-like Good Morning and the That’s What She Said Milk Stout.


Location: Grand Rapids, Michigan

“We don’t brew beer for the masses” is the mandate at Founders, winners of six World Beer Cup, four European Beer Star, and three Great American Beer Festival medals. Let that sink in over a cold bottle of Founders Imperial Stout.


Location: Minneapolis, Minnesota

In 2011, Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton signed what came to be known as the “Surly bill” into law, which essentially made it possible for Surly to serve its beer on site. Beer lovers everywhere rejoiced. And the brand has continued to expand its offerings—and distribution chain—with brews like CynicAle, Abrasive, Hell, and Overrated!


Location: Hattiesburg, Mississippi

With beers like Jack the Sipper, Mississippi Fire Ant, and Pow! Rye in the Kisser, Southern Prohibition is upping the craft can game by mixing cool art, fun names, and easily drinkable brews.


Location: St. Louis, Missouri

Founded in 2011, Perennial is a microbrewery created with the “adventurous craft beer drinker in mind.” The company sources local, seasonal, and organic ingredients to create its menu of handcrafted, small-batch beers, including its barrel-aged Abraxas Imperial Stout, with hints of cacao nibs, vanilla beans, ancho chiles, and cinnamon.


Location: Missoula, Montana

Big Sky Brewing began life, at least conceptually, as a public access TV show called Beer Talk. From there, the idea morphed into a draft-only brewery, and now a full-scale brewery that produces about 50,000 barrels of the sudsy stuff per year, each name (like Pygmy Owl Itty Bitty IPA and Moose Drool Brown Ale) a nod to the nature that surrounds the brewery.


Location: La Vista, Nebraska

After years of experimental home-brewing, Paul and Kim Kavulak opened the doors to the Nebraska Brewing Company brewpub in 2007. In the years since, they’ve set the standard for brewing in the Cornhusker State, with more than a dozen canned craft, reserve bottle, limited-edition barrel-aged, and seasonal brews, including 311 Amber Ale, which they created in collaboration with the Omaha-founded rockers of 311. 


Location: Las Vegas, Nevada

In the midst of Sin City, Big Dog has been brewing up some truly creative, small-batch beers—like the bold War Dog Imperial IPA and rich Black Lab Stout—for nearly 25 years.


Location: Hampton, New Hampshire

Named for Smuttynose Island, Smuttynose Brewing is bringing a taste of The Granite State to seemingly every corner of the world. Their more than two dozen varieties of year-round, seasonal, and large-format bottled beers—including the award-winning Baltic Porter and Wheat Wine Ale—are available in more than two dozen states across the country, plus parts of Europe and Asia.


Location: Ocean, New Jersey

On the coast of New Jersey, Kane is a relative newcomer, but they’ve made a pretty big impact in their five years in business. Particularly with their Corked & Caged beers, a complex collection of small-batch beers in large format bottles, like the local wildflower honey-brewed Apiary saison.


Location: Albuquerque, New Mexico

La Cumbre doesn’t have the unlimited advertising budget of its mass-produced colleagues—and they’re OK with that. They’d much rather devote their resources to finding the best ingredients, and giving their brewers the time they need to perfect each drop of beer produced. La Cumbre’s penchant for classic beer styles shows in its Elevated IPA, A Slice of Hefen Bavarian-style wheat beer, and Red Ryeot.


Location: Brooklyn, New York

Evil Twin Brewing

With nearly 250 breweries statewide, the competition to be one of New York’s finest isn’t easy. But Evil Twin has been making a quick run for that title since first launching in 2010. Originating in Denmark, the brand made the jump across the pond to a spot in Brooklyn a few years back and has been amping up production ever since. In 2012, they launched more than 40 different beers. And today, you can find them in more than 40 different countries (not to mention top restaurants around the world like Momofuku Ko and Eleven Madison). And if you believe what BeerAdvocate says, three of New York’s 10 best beers come from Evil Twin—including the first and second spots, which belong to Imperial Biscotti Break Bourbon Barrel Aged and Evil Twin Double Barrel Jesus, respectively.


Location: Winston-Salem, North Carolina

Because freshness matters, Foothills does much of its business in the Southeast. It’s here that you’ll find a major demand for the brewer’s creative handcrafted concoctions, especially its seasonal brews like Sexual Chocolate Imperial Stout. (Its year-round Jade IPA is also a popular choice for its peppery finish.)


Location: Fargo, North Dakota

The good news: As one might hope, the folks at Fargo Brewing couldn’t resist a small nod to the Coen brothers’ movie. They swear that they’d “give our left foot for another pint” of their Wood Chipper IPA. The bad news: You’ll have to make your way to the Great Plains to taste it.


Location: North Olmsted, Ohio

Before becoming one of Ohio’s most acclaimed breweries, Fat Head’s got its start on the South Side of Pittsburgh. In 2009, the brand teamed up with brewer Matt Cole and made the move to Ohio. Early acclaim for their uniquely crafted collection of formats—from German-style lagers to fruit beers—led to a quick expansion and the brand now boasts locations in Pittsburgh, Portland, Oregon, and North Olmsted and Cleveland, Ohio.


Location: Tulsa, Oklahoma

The brainchild of two suds-loving brothers, Prairie Ales was founded as a self-funded endeavor in 2012. Since then, the duo has experimented with all sorts of amazing ingredients and types of beers, and has received unprecedented acclaim for what they’re doing. All but one of BeerAdvocate’s picks for the 10 best Oklahoma brews belong to Prairie Ales, with four of their BOMB! Imperial Stouts topping the list.


Location: Bend, Oregon

Founded as a brewpub in 1988, Deschutes’ main focus has always been on quality over quantity, but they’ve been fortunate enough to find both. More than a quarter-century later, the brand is still evolving. Their beers, including a Black Butte Porter and Mirror Pond Pale Ale, can be purchased in most cities across the country. And Deschutes isn’t done yet: They recently announced that they’ll be opening an east coast brewery in Roanoke, Virginia.


Location: Meadville, Pennsylvania

Voodoo Brewery has been producing some of the country’s quirkiest microbrews for than a decade, and the beer world has taken notice. Their Big Black Voodoo Daddy Imperial Stout took home a silver medal at the Great American Beer Festival.


Location: West Kingston, Rhode Island

The smallest state is packing some big beer flavor with Proclamation Ale, which was founded by Dave Witham in 2014. And his impact was felt pretty much immediately, with a lot of love being shown for his unique brews, including Derivative: Galaxy.


Location: Mt. Pleasant, South Carolina

Westbrook defines its mission this way: “to make the most interesting, drinkable, and generally awesome beer possible.” Always game to experiment with new ingredients and brewing techniques, it’s clear from their lineup of beers—like Poppin’ Pils, Weisse Weisse Baby, and Shane’s Big DIPA—that these brewers are having fun.


Location: Spearfish, South Dakota

Founded in 2007, Crow Peak says that it’s been “crafting South Dakota’s beer culture” with its rich brews, including a Pile O’ Dirt Porter and Canyon Cream Ale.


Location: Memphis, Tennessee

Wiseacre is the product of brothers Davin and Kellan Bartosch’s longtime fascination with great beer (they count the time they stole their parents’ rental car and drove to Boston’s Sam Adams Brewery in 1997 as a formative part of their journey to Wiseacre). Their fun-loving attitude carries over to their cans of beers, which boast creative names and packaging, like the Gotta Get Up to Get Down Coffee Milk Stout.


Location: Austin, Texas

Fans of Jester King have learned to expect the unexpected from this farmhouse brewery that uses well water, local grains, and native wild yeast in their brewing process.


Location: Salt Lake City, Utah

Founded in a former mechanic’s garage in 1993, it didn’t take long for Uinta’s reputation within the industry to grow. By 2001, they had outgrown their space, and were able to customize a 26,000 square foot brewery that allowed them to maximize production of their Utah-inspired brews, like their flagship Cutthroat Pale Ale, which is named after the official state fish (the Bonneville cutthroat trout).


Location: Waterbury, Vermont

One of the smallest operations on this list, The Alchemist is a tiny, family-run brewery that specializes in one beer: Heady Topper, an unfiltered, American Double IPA.


Location: Richmond, Virginia

Founded in 2011, Hardywood’s dedication to crafting truly unique beverages didn’t go unnoticed by beer lovers. Five years after the company’s founding, Hardywood has already won a slew of awards for its naturally conditioned, unpasteurized, and unfiltered lineup of beers, including a few more experimental beverages, like its top-rated, bourbon barrel-aged Hardywood Foolery Milk Stout. Hardywood was also recently named Virginia’s Top Brewer by RateBeer.


Location: Seattle, Washington

“Sustainability” is the key word at Fremont, Seattle’s seven-year-old, small-batch brewery that promotes “activism through beer.” Which means that they conserve energy as much as possible in the brewing process and implement various zero-waste production processes. They also source a variety of local ingredients, both toward that cause and as a way to give back to the community. All of which makes for a collection of award-winning beers, like the Cowiche Canyon Fresh Hop Ale, which Men’s Journal recently named one of the 101 Best Beers in America.


Location: Thomas, West Virginia

Mountain State is “West Virginia born and brewed”—and proud of it! As one of West Virginia's oldest microbreweries and tap rooms, the company is doing its part to make a name for the state on the beer scene, and they’re succeeding. Brews like Cold Trail Blonde Ale, Almost Heaven Amber Ale, and Miner’s Daughter Stout are complex yet approachable for even newbie microbrew drinkers.


Location: Amherst, Wisconsin

Central Waters may not be the only brewery to hop on the barrel-aging bandwagon, but they're clearly doing something right. Special, brewery-only releases have resulted in long lines and quick sellouts—and even an uptick in the local tourism industry. In January, the Stevens Point Journal wrote that “Like any rock star worth its froth, these beers attract dedicated fans with some making seven-hour drives, others booking flights and reserving so many hotel rooms that folks at the nearby Stevens Point Area Convention and Visitors Bureau have noticed a coinciding spike in occupancy rates.” Who knew beer could be good for business?


Location: Jackson, Wyoming

Snake River may be Wyoming’s oldest brewery, but that doesn’t mean that they’re not open to change. In 2011, after nearly 20 years of bottling their beer, they made the (eco)conscious decision to switch to cans. Their dedication to the environment goes even beyond that; in 2006, they received USDA Organic Certification for their OB-1 (Organic Beer Number 1), a brown ale made from all-organic malt and hops. That’s what we call responsible consumption.

15 Game of Thrones Products Every Fan Needs

Kit Harington and Emilia Clarke in Game of Thrones
Kit Harington and Emilia Clarke in Game of Thrones
Helen Sloan, HBO

Though Game of Thrones might be coming to its official end, that doesn’t mean that your fandom can’t—or won’t—carry on. Whether you’re a years-long defender of House Stark or have been rooting for House Targaryen since the beginning, there’s a candle, collectible pin, coffee mug, card game, and pretty much anything else you can imagine with your name (and preferred sigil) on it.

1. A Song of Ice and Fire Book Series; $46

Bantam's 'A Song of Ice and Fire' book series

Bantam, Amazon

If you’ve never read George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire, the book series upon which the series is based, plenty more Westerosi drama awaits. And just because you’ve seen every episode of the series 10 times doesn’t mean you know which way the books will turn. (The TV show diverged from their narrative a long time ago—and dozens of the characters who have been killed off on your television screen are still alive and well in the books.) Plus, as Martin has yet to complete the series, you may just catch up in time for the newest book.

Buy it: Amazon

2. Map Marker Wine Stopper Set; $50

Nobody solves a problem like Tyrion Lannister … and his thought process usually includes copious amounts of wine (Dornish if you’ve got it). Something tells us you’re going need some vino yourself to get through the giant, hour-long hole left in your Sunday nights once Game of Thrones officially ends. Make sure you don’t let a drop of it go to waste by keeping one of these six wine stoppers—each one carved to represent the sigil of the most noble houses in the Seven Kingdoms—handy.

Buy it: HBO Shop or BoxLunch

3. Winterfell Coffee Mug; $25

If coffee is more your speed—we get it: the night is dark and full of terrors—this simple-yet-elegant Winterfell mug is an easy way to communicate to your co-workers why you’re typically a little bleary-eyed on Monday mornings.

Buy it: HBO Shop

4. Hodor Door Stop; $12

A 3D-printed Hodor door stop, inspired by 'Game of Thrones'

3D Cauldron, Amazon

An important part of being a Game of Thrones fan is accepting that showrunners D.B. Weiss and David Benioff have no problem killing off your favorite characters, often in brutal ways. One of the series’ most memorable deaths was that of Hodor, Bran Stark’s personal mode of transport, who we loved despite the fact that the only word he ever uttered for six seasons was “Hodor”—and who we loved even more when, in the final moments of his life, we learned why that was the case. Pay tribute to the gentle giant, and his backstory, with this 3D-printed door stop.

Buy it: Amazon

5. Tarot Card Deck; $25

A 'Game of Thrones' tarot card deck, from Chronicle Books

Chronicle Books, Amazon

Channel your inner Maggy the Frog and see what the future holds for you and your loved ones (your enemies, too, if the mood strikes you) with Chronicle Books’s gorgeously packaged tarot card deck. The tarot tradition and Game of Thrones mythology blend seamlessly together in this box of goodies, which includes an instruction book and illustrated cards featuring your favorite characters and most beloved scenes from the show.

Buy it: Amazon or Chronicle Books

6. Fire and Blood Candle; $12

Mad Queen or not, show that you still stand behind the Mother of Dragons by filling your home with this House Targaryen-inspired votive candle. Best of all: Just wait to see the look on the faces of your guests when they ask “Mmmm … what’s that smell?” If you’d prefer not to answer with “fire and blood—doesn’t it smell delicious?,” there are other scents available: one called "Moon of My Life My Sun and Stars," another called "Be a Dragon," and one inspired by the Iron Throne itself (which must smell like victory).

Buy it: HBO Shop

7. Clue: Game of Thrones; $50

Margaery Tyrell with the battle axe in Cersei’s bedchambers. Rewrite the rules—and brutal deaths—of Game of Thrones with this special edition of the classic board game, which tasks you with figuring out who murdered whom, using what weapon, and where the incident took place. A double-sided playing board lets you choose whether you want to set the game in The Red Keep or Meereen.

Buy it: HBO Shop or BoxLunch

8. Game of Thrones Monopoly; $24

'Game of Thrones Monopoly' game board

Hasbro, Amazon

Who wants to be the Lord or Lady of Winterfell when you can become the preeminent real estate mogul of all the Seven Kingdoms? This special-edition Monopoly board puts a distinctly Westerosian twist on the classic game, with silver tokens to represent the sigils of each of the main houses and a card holder that plays the series’ haunting score whenever you press it.

Buy it: Amazon or Best Buy

9. House Stark Hoodie; $60

If you really wanted to dress like a Stark, you’d have a master blacksmith on hand to help customize your armor—or at least turn your IKEA rug into a luxurious cape. If you’re far less crafty, there’s always this full-zip hoodie featuring an embroidered direwolf on the front and an outlined illustration of the same on the back. The minimalist design is a way to show your fandom in a way that, to the untrained eye, might just look like you’re a fan of wolves. But the rest of us will know better. And approve.

Buy it: ThinkGeek

10. Deluxe Iron Throne Funko Pop! Set; $130

Funko's Iron Throne Pop! set of five

Funko, HBO Shop

Though it seems unlikely that a few of these characters will ever sit on the Iron Throne (either because they’re dead or have gone mad), a fan can always hope. And buying them as part of this five-piece set is an easy way to collect them all. If you don’t see your favorite character here, Amazon has got plenty more squat-headed figures to choose from, including Arya, Brienne of Tarth, Rhaegal (poor Rhaegal), and Ghost (poor Ghost). If you ever happen upon a headless Ned Stark Pop!, grab it; this hard-to-find figure can sell for more than $2000 on eBay.

Buy it: HBO Shop

11. Iron Throne Bookend; $60

After devoting more than eight years of your life to seeing Game of Thrones all the way through, maybe it’s you who deserves the Iron Throne. You can’t sit on this 7.5-inch replica, the base of which features sigils from all the noble houses, but you can show off your fancy George R.R. Martin book collection … or all that dragon fan fiction you’ve been working on.

Buy it: Best Buy or the HBO Shop

12. Game of Thrones Music Box; $13

'Game of Thrones' music box

Shenzhen Youtang Trade Co., Amazon

Channel your inner Arya by psyching yourself up with the iconic Game of Thrones theme song whenever you feel the need to hear it with this hand-cranked music box.

Buy it: Amazon

13. Iron Throne Tankard; $70

Show your guests who's boss at your next dinner party—or raucous feast—as you take your place at the head of the table and guzzle your mead (or giant's milk—we don't judge) from this Iron Throne-themed tankard, completed with sword handle.

Buy it: HBO Shop

14. Game of Thrones Socks; $8

It gets cold in the North. Keep your tootsies warm with this six-pack of stylish ankle-cut socks.

Buy it: Target

15. Living Language Dothraki; $16

A copy of the Living Language Dothraki language course

Living Language, Amazon

By now, you've surely learned at least a handful of common Dothraki words and phrases. But if you wan to become fluent in the (fictional) language, this language course is one way to do it. Now: Finne zhavvorsa anni?

Buy it: Amazon

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25 Famous Authors' Favorite Books

David Cheskin-Pool/Getty Images
David Cheskin-Pool/Getty Images

One key to being a good writer is to always keep reading—and that doesn't stop after you've been published. Here are 25 authors' favorite reads. Who knows, one of these books might become your new favorite.


American writer Ernest Hemingway
Central Press/Getty Images

Papa Hemingway once said "there is no friend as loyal as a book," and in a 1935 piece published in Esquire, he laid out a list of a few friends he said he would "rather read again for the first time ... than have an assured income of a million dollars a year." They included, he wrote, "Anna Karenina, Far Away and Long Ago, Buddenbrooks, Wuthering Heights, Madame Bovary, War and Peace, A Sportsman's Sketches, The Brothers Karamazov, Hail and Farewell, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Winesburg, Ohio, La Reine Margot, The Maison Tellier, Le Rouge et le Noir, La Chartreuse de Parme, Dubliners, Yeats's Autobiographies, and a few others."

It wasn't the first reading list he'd made; just a year earlier, Hemingway had dashed off a list of 14 books for an aspiring writer who had hitchhiked to Florida to meet him. It included a few of the same books above, plus two short stories by Stephen Crane.


Joan Didion
Jemal Countess/Getty Images

In an interview with The Paris Review in 2006, novelist and creative nonfiction scribe Joan Didion called Joseph Conrad's Victory "maybe my favorite book in the world ... I have never started a novel ... without rereading Victory. It opens up the possibilities of a novel. It makes it seem worth doing."


US science fiction writer Ray Bradbury
Evening Standard/Getty Images

Sci-fi author Ray Bradbury's favorite books, which he discussed during a 2003 interview with Barnes & Noble when he was 83, are somewhat unexpected. Among them, Bradbury said, were "The collected essays of George Bernard Shaw, which contain all of the intelligence of humanity during the last hundred years and perhaps more," books written by Loren Eisley, "who is our greatest poet/essayist of the last 40 years," and Herman Melville's Moby-Dick: "Quite obviously its impact on my life has lasted for more than 50 years."

The books that most influenced his career—and are presumably favorites as well—were those in Edgar Rice Burroughs's John Carter: Warlord of Mars series. "[They] entered my life when I was 10 and caused me to go out on the lawns of summer, put up my hands, and ask for Mars to take me home," Bradbury said. "Within a short time I began to write and have continued that process ever since, all because of Mr. Burroughs."


George R.R. Martin
Kevin Winter/Getty Images

It's probably not surprising that Game of Thrones author George R.R. Martin has said that J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings, which he first read in junior high, is "still a book I admire vastly." But he recently found inspiration in a newer book, which he recommended in a Live Journal entry: "I won't soon forget Station Eleven," he wrote. Emily St. John Mandel's book about a group of actors in a recently post-apocalyptic society, he said, is "a deeply melancholy novel, but beautifully written, and wonderfully elegiac … a book that I will long remember, and return to."


The Atlas statue in New York City seen from below
Sean P. Anderson, Flickr // CC BY-SA 2.0

"The very best I've ever read, my favorite thing in all world literature (and that includes all the heavy classics) is a novelette called Calumet K by Merwin-Webster," Rand wrote in 1945. The book was famous then, but if you haven't heard of it, allow Chicago magazine to outline the plot: "Calumet K is a quaint, endearingly Midwestern novel about the building of a grain elevator ... It's a procedural about large-scale agricultural production." If that sounds like something you'd want to check out, you can read it for free here.


Author Gillian Flynn
Kevin Winter/Getty Images

When Gone Girl author Gillian Flynn was asked about her favorite books in a 2014 Reddit AMA, she called out her "comfort food" books—the kind "you grab when you're feeling cranky and nothing sounds good to read"—which included Agatha Christie's And Then There Were None and Norman Mailer's The Executioner's Song.


Russian writer Vladimir Nabokov
Keystone/Getty Images

During an interview with a French television station in the 1950s, the Lolita author—who wrote all of his own books on note cards, which were "gradually copied, expanded, and rearranged until they [became his novels]," according to The Paris Review—shared a list of what he considered to be great literature: James Joyce's Ulysses, Kafka's The Metamorphosis, Andrei Bely's Petersburg, and "the first half of Proust's fairy tale, In Search of Lost Time."


English novelist Jane Austen
Hulton Archive/Getty Images

The author of classics like Pride and Prejudice and Emma was herself a voracious reader of books, poetry, and plays, including The Corsair by Lord Byron, Madame de Genlis's Olimpe and Theophile, and The Mysteries of Udolpho by Anne Radcliffe. A clear favorite, though, was Samuel Richardson's book Sir Charles Grandison.


Mark Twain
Topical Press Agency/Getty Images

In 1887, Twain responded to a letter from Reverend Charles D. Crane, a pastor in Maine, which likely asked for Twain's recommendations for both young boys and girls as well as the authors' favorite books (Crane's letter, unfortunately, is lost). Among his favorites, Twain said, were Thomas Carlyle "(The French Revolution only)," Sir Thomas Malory's King Arthur, and Arabian Nights, among others. He also included his own B.B., which he said was "a book which I wrote some years ago, not for publication but just for my own private reading."


Meg Wolitzer
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The Interestings author loves the novel Old Filth by Jane Gardam. "It's a thrilling, bold and witty book by a British writer whom I discovered rather late," she told Elle in 2014. "I can't say I've read anything else like Old Filth, which stands out for me as a singular, opalescent novel, a thing of beauty that gives immense gratification to its lucky readers."


Author Erik Larson
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The acclaimed author of The Devil in the White City calls The Maltese Falcon his "all-time personal favorite":

"I love this book, all of it: the plot, the characters, the dialogue, much of which was lifted verbatim by John Huston for his screenplay for the beloved movie of the same name. The single best monologue in fiction appears toward the end, when Sam Spade tells Brigid O'Shaughnessy why he's giving her to the police."


A studio portrait of American writer F. Scott Fitzgerald (
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In 1936—four years before his death—Fitzgerald was living at the Grove Park Inn in North Carolina. After he fired a gun as a suicide threat, the inn insisted that he be supervised by a nurse. While under Dorothy Richardson's care, he provided her with a list of 22 books that he deemed "essential reading." It included Sister Carrie by Theodore Dreiser, The Life of Jesus by Ernest Renan, Henrik Ibsen's A Doll's House, and Winesburg, Ohio by Sherwood Anderson.


Award winning writer Edwidge Danticat visits Capitol Hill, October 21, 2015.
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This MacArthur Fellow and award-winning author of Claire of the Sea Light, The Dew Breaker, and Brother, I'm Dying told that her favorite summer read is Love, Anger, Madness, by the Haitian writer Marie Vieux-Chauvet. "I have read and reread that book, both in French and in its English translation, for many years now," she said. "And each time I stumble into something new and eye-opening that makes me want to keep reading it over and over again."


Irish playwright and author Samuel Beckett
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Winner of the 1969 Nobel Prize for Literature and author of Waiting for Godot, Beckett was always a private individual, even after garnering acclaim for his writing. In 2011, a volume of the author's letters from 1941 to 1956 was published, giving the world a glimpse into his friendships and reading habits. Beckett wrote about many books in his correspondence: He described Around the World in 80 Days by Jules Verne as "lively stuff," wrote that his fourth reading of Effi Briest by Theodor Fontane caused "the same old tears in the same old places," and that he liked The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger "more than anything for a long time."

15. R.L. STINE

R.L. Stine
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In a 2012 piece for The Washington Post, Goosebumps and Fear Street author R.L. Stine praised Ray Bradbury's Dandelion Wine, calling it "one of the most underrated books ever. Bradbury's lyrical depiction of growing up in the Midwest in a long-ago time, a time that probably never even existed, is the kind of beautiful nostalgia few authors have achieved."


Author Amy Tan
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The Joy Luck Club author Amy Tan's favorite piece of classic Chinese literature is Jing Ping Mei (The Plum in the Golden Vase), penned by an anonymous scribe. "I would describe it as a book of manners for the debauched," she said in a 2013 interview with The New York Times. "Its readers in the late Ming period likely hid it under their bedcovers, because it was banned as pornographic. It has a fairly modern, naturalistic style—'Show, don't tell'—and there are a lot of sex scenes shown. For years, I didn't know I had the expurgated edition that provided only elliptical hints of what went on between falling into bed and waking up refreshed. The unexpurgated edition is instructional."


Author J.K. Rowling
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For her favorite book, Harry Potter and The Silkworm author J.K. Rowling (she wrote the latter under a pseudonym) went with a classic: Jane Austen's Emma. "Virginia Woolf said of Austen, 'For a great writer, she was the most difficult to catch in the act of greatness,' which is a fantastic line," Rowling said, according to "You're drawn into the story, and you come out the other end, and you know you've seen something great in action. But you can't see the pyrotechnics; there's nothing flashy."

One of her favorite books as a child was The Story of the Treasure Seekers by E. Nesbit, whom Rowling called "the children's writer with whom I most identify … The Story of the Treasure Seekers was a breakthrough children's book. Oswald is such a very real narrator, at a time when most people were writing morality plays for children."


Maya Angelou
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The poet and author had a number of favorite books, including Dickens's A Tale of Two Cities, the Bible, Look Homeward, Angel by Thomas Wolfe, Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison, and Louisa May Alcott's Little Women. "When I read Alcott, I knew that these girls she was talking about were all white," Angelou told The Week in 2013. "But they were nice girls and I understood them. I felt like I was almost there with them in their living room and their kitchen."


US author Lydia Davis
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Reading John Dos Passos's Orient Express was "a turning point for me," award winning novelist Lydia Davis said in 1997. "That was one of the first 'grown up' books that made me excited about the language."


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The Tropic of Cancer author wrote an entire book that, he explained in the preface, "[dealt] with books as a vital experience." The Books in My Life included an appendix titled "100 Books Which Influenced Me Most." Classics like Wuthering Heights, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Les Miserables, and Leaves of Grass all made the cut.


US novelist John Steinbeck
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One of the Grapes of Wrath and East of Eden author's favorite books later in life was Sherwood Anderson's Winesburg, Ohio, but his first favorite book was Le Morte d'Arthur, a collection of Arthurian tales by Sir Thomas Malory, which Steinbeck received as a gift when he was 9. It was a major influence on the author's writing, and ultimately led to The Acts of King Arthur and His Noble Knights, which Steinbeck hoped would be "the best work of my life and the most satisfying." He had completed just seven chapters of the book when he died in 1968; it was published posthumously eight years later.


Wild author Cheryl Strayed
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When the author of the bestselling memoir Wild set off on her journey up the Pacific Coast Trail, she only had room to take two books. One was a book of Adrienne Rich's poetry, The Dream of a Common Language. She had already read it enough times to almost memorize it in its entirety. Explaining in Wild the choice to bring along the extra weight in her pack, she writes:

"In the previous few years, certain lines had become like incantations to me, words I'd chanted to myself through my sorrow and confusion. That book was a consolation, an old friend, and when I held it in my hands on my first night on the trail, I didn't regret carrying it one iota—even though carrying it meant that I could do no more than hunch beneath its weight. It was true that The Pacific Crest Trail, Volume 1: California was now my bible, but The Dream of a Common Language was my religion."

At one point during her arduous hike, she considers burning the book to save weight in her pack, as she did with other books she read along the trail. "There was no reason not to burn this book too," she writes. "Instead, I only hugged it to my chest."


Author Joyce Carol Oates speaks onstage
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In a 2013 interview with The Boston Globe, the prolific author Joyce Carol Oates revealed Dostoevsky as one of her favorite authors. When asked for her all-time favorite book, she said:

"I would say Dostoyevsky's Crime and Punishment, which had an enormous effect on me. I think young people today might not realize how readable that novel is. The other book that I worry no one reads anymore is James Joyce's Ulysses. It's not easy, but every page is wonderful and repays the effort."

In honor of the publication of her latest book, Dis Mem Ber in June 2017, Oates also shared her current reading list with The Week. It included Anthony Marra's books A Constellation of Vital Phenomena and The Tsar of Love and Techno, Atticus Lish's award-winning Preparation for the Next Life, Whitney Terrell's Iraq War novel The Good Lieutenant, T. Geronimo Johnson's satirical Welcome to Braggsville, and the time-travel sci-fi novel Version Control by Dexter Palmer.


George Saunders speaks at The 2009 New Yorker Festival
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In 2014, Saunders—one of the most famous short story writers of our time—detailed some of his favorite books for Oprah Winfrey's O magazine. On the favorites list for the author of bestsellers like Tenth of December and Lincoln in the Bardo?

Tobias Wolff's In the Garden of the North American Martyrs (a book that convinced Saunders to study with Wolff at Syracuse University, where Saunders still works today), Michael Herr's Vietnam memoir Dispatches, Stuart Dybek's short story collection The Coast of Chicago, Toni Morrison's The Bluest Eye, and several classics of Russian literature—Isaac Babel's The Red Calvary, The Portable Chekhov, and Nicolai Gogol's Dead Souls.


Author/activist Judy Blume
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In 2016, beloved author Judy Bloom shared some of her favorite books with The Strand, a bookstore in New York City. Madeline, the classic children's book by Ludwig Bemelmans, she explained, was "the first book I fell in love with at the Elizabeth [New Jersey] public library." She wrote:

"I loved it so much I hid it so my mother would not be able to return it to the library. I thought it was the only copy in the world. To this day I feel guilty. It was the first book I bought for my daughter's library when she was born."

For professional inspiration, she turns to Philip Roth's Pulitzer Prize-winning American Pastoral. "It never fails to amaze me," she writes.

This article first ran in 2015.

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