I had a lesson plan based around Mark Twain‘s Extracts From Adam’s Diary when I was an English teacher. Without fail, every student who read it was completely delighted. They were also shocked to learn that the story was published in 1904 since the prose is so modern, fun and playful.
Twain was witty and clever and for these things alone he would be one of my heroes. But there are many others: he wasn’t just a self-made man, he was a self-invented man (born Samuel Clemens); he was a Midwesterner who went East; he embodied many good American ideals and not many bad ones; he was a great great writer.
If you come across any of his books, do yourself a favor and take one home. You’ll laugh so much and then be happy for so long that you’ll wonder how you ever lived without him. I’d go with a title you don’t recognize (no cultural baggage), especially the short stories. They’re just wonderful. Really.