Listen to 15 Literary Icons Reading Their Own Work

One of the most important experiences you can have with your favorite author is to hear them read aloud from their works. But many of us will never get the chance to see our most beloved writer in the flesh. So, after the jump is a collection of 15 writers — some alive, some long gone — reading their own words (all fiction, with the exception of William Faulkner, whose Nobel Prize speech is included because it’s now often taught alongside his novels and stories, and Joan Didion’s memoir, The Year of Magical Thinking). 

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sQT7y4L5aKU]

Flannery O’Connor, “A Good Man Is Hard to Find”

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ENIj5oNtapw]

William Faulkner, “Nobel Prize Acceptance Speech, 1950”

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=esBLxyTFDxE]

Sylvia Plath, “Lady Lazarus”

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pvT6-U4SZP8]

Truman Capote, reading from Breakfast at Tiffany’s

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UM6nWRXCQD8]

Anne Sexton, “Wanting to Die”

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=trVK9QocQZI]

James Baldwin, reading from Another Country

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JllxWgJ12SE]

Jeffrey Eugenides, reading from Middlesex

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YDLwivcpFe8]

Frank O’Hara, “Having a Coke With You”

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vRYiNCiv9ak]

Dorothy Parker, “Inscription for the Ceiling of a Bedroom”

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vXHxlHXSXoE]

Kurt Vonnegut, reading from Breakfast of Champions

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NdZcnvLCVec]

Zadie Smith, reading from On Beauty

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4UQDKEHSeWQ]

David Foster Wallace, “Suicide as a Sort of Present”

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nscGFfdBZqk]

Joan Didion, reading from The Year of Magical Thinking

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u-wMQIm_4Vw]

Saul Bellow, reading from Henderson the Rain King

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qV9SXj4GZE4]

Marilynne Robinson, reading from Gilead