104 Storytellers My Friends Love


I’m a writer who hasn’t been writing much. My creative energy is only now starting to peek out from under a year of personal grief, political anxiety, and pandemic reality. That energy feels like…hope. A shy hope that gradually emerged as the darkness of grief began to recede, and perked up when the 2020 election was called, and news of upcoming COVID vaccines appeared.

My gut is pointing me toward storytelling, because I believe stories can help us heal. I don’t have much more to go on than that, so while I loosen up my rusty writing fingers, I figure the best thing I can do is to read good stories. But where to begin?

I asked my friends to tell me their favorite storytellers (from any genre) and BOY did they come through.

For now, it’s just a straight list, but as I read/listen to these folks, I’ll link up what I find. Many of these names I’ve never heard of, so I’ve got a lot of exploring and reading to do.

Who are my favorite storytellers?

  • Cheryl Strayed
  • Patti Smith
  • Annie Dillard
  • Anne Lamott
  • Kelly Corrigan
  • Mary Karr
  • Ursula LeGuin

… to start.

Do you have a favorite storyteller? Tell me in the comments.

Neil Gaiman photo credit: Allan Amato

Neil Gaiman was the storyteller friends mentioned most often. I already have The Graveyard Book, Coraline, and Norse Mythology, which I’ve never read. I’m starting there. 

Toni Morrison photo credit: Damon Winter

Toni Morrison was the next-most mentioned storyteller. I can’t believe I’ve never read her books. I’ve always meant to, and when she died in 2019, I read the tributes to her in awe. This is the nudge I needed to start Beloved.

These storytellers were all recommended by more than one person:

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Octavia E Butler

Sandra Cisneros

Kate DiCamillo

Sharon Draper

Louise Erdrich

Ira Glass

N.K. Jemisin

Ursula le Guin

Jhumpa Lahiri

Nnedi Okorafur

Jason Reynolds

Bruce Springsteen

Angie Thomas

Alice Walker

Jacqueline Woodson

…and here’s the rest of the list.

Jad Abumrad

Elizabeth Acevedo

Tomi Adeyemi

Kwame Alexander

Nadeem Aslam

Jane Austen

Natalie Babbitt

Claire Bidwell

Jeff Bogle

A.S. Byatt

Ray Bradbury

Orson Scott Card

Brandi Carlile

Nick Cave

Susannah Clarke

Pat Conroy

Eva DeVirgilis

Joan Didion

Annie Dillard

Marguerite Duras

Ava Duvernay

Jennifer Egan

Bernardine Evaristo

Megan Falley

Jasper Fforde

Hannah Gadbsy

Terry Gross

Yaa Gyasi

PJ Harvey

Zorah Neale Hurston

Samantha Irby

Shirley Jackson

Eleanor Janega

Daisy Johnson

Nalini Jones

Saeed Jones

Stephen King

Jarrett Krosoczka

Guus Kuijer

Mary Lambert

Stiefvater Larsson

Kiese Laymon

Min Jin Lee

Sujata Massey

Jonathan Maberry

Terry McMillan

James McMurtry

Meg Medina

Madeline Miller

Brad Montague

Tamsyn Muir

Casey Neistat

Viet Nguyen

Mary Oliver

Amanda Palmer

John Prine

Philip Pullman

Anna Quindlen

Rick Riordan

Madeleine Roux

Oliver Sacks

David Sedaris

Peng Shepherd

Patricia Smith

Regina Spektor

Megan Stielstra

Donna Tartt

Raina Telgemeier

David Tennant (podcast)

Stephen Tobolowsky

J.R.R Tolkien

Amor Towles

Paul Tremblay

Gail Tsukiyama

Mark Twain

Luis Alberto Urrea

Tom Waits

Jesmyn Ward

Chuck Wendig

E.B. White

Colton Whitehead

Isabel Wilkerson

Don Winslow

Aaron Yavelberg

Jane Yolen

Banana Yoshimoto

Photo credit: Robyn Budlender