We all like lists. Even if we don't make them ourselves because the idea of putting our thoughts down in any kind of concrete order is somewhat repellent, we still like other people's lists. And when people's thoughts and preferences are grouped together in an orderly way, it is easy recognize ourselves in their likes and dislikes and then maybe, maybe, we won't feel so alone. Lists, in the end, are a way to avoid the ever-present crisis of existential malaise. Or, you know, they're just a fun, easily digestible way of consuming information. Lists are fun to read and they're fun to make.
Writers, in particular, seem to come to list-making naturally. Maybe because it is a relief to just put words down without having to really connect them in any larger way than just by some loose category? Maybe. Whatever the reason, Brainpickings recently posted some lists of Susan Sontag's likes and dislikes and it was, predictably, perfect in its inclusion of all sorts of random things that made sense once grouped together. And it got me thinking about what other famous writers like and dislike and what their likes and dislikes say about them and, also, what it says about me that I felt a little spark of joy when I recognized my own favorite and despised things on these lists. Maybe you'll feel the same way. These are some of the likes and dislikes of famous writers, presented without comment.
Likes: sweaters, urinating, hands, goose down quilts, babies, tequila, tall people, staying in hotels
Dislikes: sleeping in an apartment alone, swimming, giving a lecture, taking a shower, television, standing, cats
Likes: watching tennis, Burger King hamburgers, gardening, church suppers, the Three Tenors
Dislikes: being photographed, morons
Likes: butterflies, J.D. Salinger's "A Perfect Day for Bananafish," Tolstoy, James Joyce's Ulysses, road trips
Dislikes: Dostoevsky, communism, italicized passages in a novel, background music, journalistic clichés, James Joyce's Finnegan's Wake
Likes: sunbathing, France, Greek mythology, sherry, hot baths, The Joy of Cooking, Ouija boards, Marilyn Monroe, her horse, Ariel, the color red
Likes: cigars, American butter, prairie chicken (to eat), white suits, cats
Dislikes: European butter, German cows, bankers
Likes: hamburgers, potato salad, chocolate and raspberry Italian pudding, the colors black and white, New York society
Dislikes: doing drugs in front of other people, British royalty, being alone, California
Likes: peacocks, Catholicism, Shakespeare, the South
Dislikes: Ayn Rand, people who quit their jobs to write, colloquial narration
Likes: sex, being in pursuit, drinking, going crazy, peeing in the sink, "hot old women in high heels with asses that forgot to get old"
Dislikes: being around other people, pretentious intellectuals, virgins
Likes: Littleneck clams, books, shared joy, being kissed on the back of the knee, moths at a windowscreen
Dislikes: men, dogs, Democrats, boring things like depression, watercolors
Follow Kristin Iversen on twitter @kmiversen