Mark Twain: one of the best authors you’ve never read

Mark Twain died 100 years ago yesterday, but he left behind a fantastic body of work. Most people have heard of him, or seen adaptations of his books for television, but I think he’s one of those authors many people feel they are familiar with, without actually having read.

Twain really rewards reading. He has a distinctive and mischievous authorial voice, which is charming but, in his memoirs and travel writing, reminds me of the harmless snake-oil salesman in the Wizard of Oz movie. He’s a master storyteller and if you only know his work from television, where you don’t hear his voice, you’ve missed much of the fun.

For the time strapped, there are always audiobooks. The volunteers at Librivox, the collective that creates free audiobooks, include many Americans, so even quite obscure pieces by Twain are available here.