The Top 20 dinner guests from the By the Book column, by votes received:

32 : Shakespeare

''Only if he speaks modern English, no 'doths' or 'twills!' '' 

-Bob Odenkirk

''Shakespeare. I wouldn't want to dilute that experience with anyone else.''  -

Jane Fonda.

32 : James Baldwin

''Imagine the banter! The cackles! The shade! The clouds of cigarette smoke!'' -

Erika L. Sanchez.

22 : Mark Twain

''Because he said 'Wagner's music is much better than it sounds,' which I think is the greatest joke ever made.'' - John Cleese.

18 : Toni Morrison

''If I can't have Toni Morrison all to myself, I'd love to add Lucille Clifton and Maurice Sendak.'' Charles M. Blow.

17 : Jane Austen

''What do dead writers eat? Can they eat? Will Jane Austen want leg of mutton?'' - Cynthia D'Aprix Sweeney.

'' I Imagine Jane Austen excusing herself, slipping off to the powder room and politely asking when she might be allowed to return to the afterlife.'' - Jennifer Weiner.

 17: Oscar Wilde

''Oscar Wilde, to keep it lively!'' - Fareed Zakaria.

''Wilde's take on aspects of modern life like social media and selfies, [for] a spirited discussion.'' - Dolly Parton

15 : Virginia Woolf

''Because she made life possible for so many women who write.'' - Jeanette Winterson.

14: Dorothy Parker

''Just to find out if what they say about her wit is true.'' - Steve Martin

12: Emily Dickinson

''I have visited her home in Amherst several times, and I love standing in her room, staring at her desk and trying to resist the urge to sit down and write, hoping she'll guide my hand.'' - Candice Millard

12: Marcel Proust

''I would be sure to serve tea and madeleines'' - Cynthia Ozick

11: Gabriel Garcia Marquez

''Because his life stories would be crazier than his fiction.'' - Marlon James.

 10 : Joan Didion

''Because she'd sit there quietly and intimidate the hell out of those guys.'' - Jeffrey Toobin

9 : Zadie Smith

''I could fake laryngitis and keep mum while dishing up something delicious to Zadie Smith.'' Emma Donoghue

9 : Leo Tolstoy

''Just to sober everyone up.'' - Nathan Lane

8 : Nora Ephron

''We'd never stop laughing.'' - Nora Roberts

8 : Zora Neale Hurston

''[I'd serve] her favorite oysters and cornmeal dumplings and sweet potato pone.'' - Isabel Wilkerson

7: Octavia Butler

''I'm pretty sure she'd make several surreal, revelatory pronouncements that would blow our collective mind.'' - Jesmyn Ward

7: Sappho

''For a bit of ancient gender politics.'' - Emma Thompson.

7: Margaret Atwood

''The first time I read 'The Handmaid's Tale,'' I immediately thought, 'I'd like to meet the person who wrote this.' She a brilliant writer.'' - Elton John

The World Students Society thanks The New York Times.


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