Favourite authors

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Favourite authors

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1ahef1963
oct. 6, 2015, 3:18am

Your top 10? Your top 27? Your top 42?

A brief note about favourite books by your favourite authors might be helpful for those of us seeking to add to our TBR piles.

2ahef1963
Editat: oct. 6, 2015, 3:34am

I'll start us off:

1. Ann Patchett is probably my favourite living author. Bel Canto is a true prize among books.

2. I love poetry. WWI poets are amongst my best-liked (Wilfred Owen, Rupert Brooke), and I am deeply fond of Gerald Manley Hopkins, William Blake, and the poetic works of Thomas Hardy.

3. Scandinavian crime fiction is my favourite genre, and my favourite writers of the genre are Henning Mankell and Jo Nesbo.

4. I'm Canadian, and love my share of Canadian writers. Miriam Toews, Margaret Atwood, Douglas Coupland, Margaret Laurence, Rohinton Mistry, and L.M. Montgomery are amongst the best. (my opinion!)

5. The classics - I adore Jane Austen. Albert Camus's novel The Stranger is my favourite book. Charles Dickens and Wilkie Collins were best friends in life, and are buddied-up on a small bookcase holding their works.

6. I like some science fiction, and my favourite writers of this genre are Isaac Asimov, Connie Willis, and Aldous Huxley.

7. Finally we can turn to fantasy, and my love for novels by Terry Pratchett, Guy Gavriel Kay (who could also be placed in the Canadian category), and Neil Gaiman.

edited to add: how could I leave out Stephen King? I love his books. He scares me so thoroughly!

3RickHarsch
oct. 6, 2015, 5:21am

Finnegan's Wake and The Adventures of Maqroll (Alvaro de Mutis) are the only two who exist for me so far today

4.Monkey.
oct. 6, 2015, 6:11am

Such a hard question, I could definitely go for 42! But in the interests of time & sanity -- the kitten is sleeping over one arm and I'll probably be frustrated by the time I get to 5 XD, I will try to come up with a short list. ;)

Vladimir Nabokov - Lolita is of course tops. His wit, his genius, his mastery of language, simply cannot be rivaled.
Tom Robbins - Jitterbug Perfume and Half Asleep in Frog Pajamas are my most favorites, but I just love his style.
Stephen King - Oh god, can I seriously pick titles?? Uhh Insomnia and The Talisman (with Peter Straub) are my top two, I'd guess... Won't bother picking from amongst the many many others!
Fyodor Dostoevsky - One needn't really list titles with such an author!
Joseph Heller - If I were forced at gunpoint to choose, Catch-22 would come out as my favorite book ever.
Dean Koontz - Tick Tock, Odd Thomas, and Fear Nothing are the epitome of why I enjoy him so much. The snark and banter are just perfect.
I give up trying to pick, too many fabulous titles, whether it be of the action-packed entertainment sort or the kind that makes you think, too many enjoyable reads, just dive in! XP
Michael Chabon, Chaim Potok, Agatha Christie, Ursula K. LeGuin, Alistair MacLean, Graham Greene, Jeffery Deaver

5RickHarsch
oct. 6, 2015, 6:45am

Let's draw pistols:

Me versus PM:

Lolita! Absolutely.
Dostoevsky! yes
Catch-22. I once felt that way, my favorite book, but I think I over-read it. It remains one of the greats, but I have left it behind, probably not for better books, but other books. I am eager for my son to read it.
The REST: I can do without all of them but LeGuin and Greene, for the rest I haven't read.

6reading_fox
oct. 6, 2015, 7:30am

Janny Wurts Cj CHerryh Stephen donaldson would probably be my top three. All Fantasy/SF authors. All world builders of renown, inventive but realising that the world exists more than just as incidents for the characters to happen upon but has a history and future of it's own, and yet the characters remain the driving force, with personalities passion and motivations that cross any simple good and evil axis into the complexities of people we see today. They all write about the hard choices you have to face, between easy, right, desire, possible, future and power.

Terry pratchett gets a special mention for his sarcastic commentary on society.

7.Monkey.
oct. 6, 2015, 8:09am

>5 RickHarsch: I'm not sure whether I'd suggest you try Robbins. Like, I'm inclined to say if you like the wittiness of Catch-22 you might enjoy his stuff, he also does the kind of satirical take on things, but at the same time there's a big difference in style, and he tends to be a rather love or can't-stand author for many.

>6 reading_fox: I think I would enjoy Pratchett a good deal, and we have maybe around a dozen of his, but I've yet to pick any up. I think mostly because of the overwhelming number of Discworld books and that I'm a bit anal about reading series in order and I wouldn't want to read the first handful and then be stuck for ages.

8Cecrow
Editat: oct. 6, 2015, 8:24am

>2 ahef1963:, I'm fascinated with wondering what would make The Stranger your favourite novel? I trust it is the message that spoke to you in some way.

>3 RickHarsch:, you are a brave man, sir. Kudos.

>4 .Monkey.:, I am way overdue to sample Nabokov, but your prompting has been helping me get there.

>6 reading_fox:, Definitely on board with Stephen R. Donaldson. What fascinates me with his work is the startling decisions his characters make in the act of getting out of the corners he 's written them into. First six Thomas Covenant, Mordant's Need, Gap Cycle - all excellent. I have to say though, I think he's past his prime now. The Last Chronicles were just disappointing. But he's just released something new and I still want to check it out: The King's Justice: Two Novellas

9.Monkey.
oct. 6, 2015, 8:20am

>8 Cecrow: Just so long as you go into it knowing a whole lot of stuff is going to fly over your head completely unnoticed, you should be fine. XD

10reading_fox
oct. 6, 2015, 8:41am

>7 .Monkey.: You can start at several places. There are a few key characters that each have their own series. And whilst they do occasionally crop up in each other's stories, it's rare and doesn't effect the plot. If you read by chronological published order than there's a lot of jumping about between them, and the earliest books are not his strongest.

There's a reading guide that's almost complete bar the latest couple of books. I generally recommend starting with guards guards, mort or equal rites as these are my favourites of the sub-series.

11Cecrow
Editat: oct. 6, 2015, 9:00am

>7 .Monkey.:, normally I'm the same way, prefer series order, but ... >10 reading_fox:, I've heard that warning before about the earliest Discworld novels. I was on a road trip this summer and borrowed whatever looked good on CD for the ride from the library. I wound up with my first Discworld forays, which happened to be #24 The Fifth Elephant and #26 Thief of Time in the series. I didn't feel lost with (or left hanging at the end of) either one and enjoyed them both, although I think they're both abridged on audio.

122wonderY
oct. 6, 2015, 9:09am

I agree that The Colour of Magic is tough to get through. I'm not sure I've ever finished it, either in print or audio. My favorite path to Discworld is through the Tiffany Aching books, starting with The Wee Free Men.

132wonderY
oct. 6, 2015, 9:17am

Can anyone tell me how one adds Favorite Authors on one's profile page? I can't seem to find the right dial.

14Cecrow
oct. 6, 2015, 9:41am

You visit the author's page and scroll quite a way down it to find the button. I guess it's done this way to help avoid typos.

15RickHarsch
Editat: oct. 6, 2015, 9:48am

>7 .Monkey.: I think there was a Robbins stage in my life, my twenties some time, and I made other choices largely arbitrarily, otherwise because I read mostly non-US authors.
>8 Cecrow: Cecrow, Lolita is a blast.
>2 ahef1963: I recently saw--for the second time, finally--the film version of The Stranger, with Mastroianni as Meursault--it's a terrific evocation of the book.

16hardlyhardy
oct. 6, 2015, 9:55am

I approve of the three sc-fi writers mentioned by ahef1963.

I loved the stories Isaac Asimov crafted around his Three Laws of Robotics. Good stuff. I could never get into Foundation, however.

I have recently become a fan of Connie Willis, so far having read Lincoln's Dreams, Bellwether, Blackout and All Clear. Most science fiction is about the future. She writes about the past.

Aldous Huxley may not have thought himself a sc-fi writer, but his Brave New World is certainly among the most sobering views of the future ever written.

Anyone who enjoys early science fiction (or simply remembers it) may appreciate the Paul Malmont novel The Astounding, the Amazing, and the Unknown, the title containing the names of three sc-fi pulp magazines. The novel places several young sc-fi writers, including Asimov, Robert Heinlein and L. Ron Hubbard in their own pulp-like adventure.

17Limelite
oct. 6, 2015, 11:02am

Just today, the names that snap to are:

Alexander McCall Smith -- Any and all No.1 Ladies' Detective Agency series featuring Precious Ramotswe, set in Botswana.
Sara Alexi -- Any and all of her Greek island series. She writes about a community of people and uses their stories to explore important and contemporary themes like the international refugee crisis. But I'd still call her novels "cozy" reads. Start here: The Illegal Gardener.
Robert K Massie -- There's no better way to learn a bit of Russian history. Gee, why can't we learn this subject at the hands of good writers instead of icky textbooks? Start here: Nicholas and Alexandra
Antoine Laurain -- Gallic humor, Gallic humor, Gallic humor. That says it all. Try: The President's Hat.
Dai Sijie -- my favorite contemporary Chinese novelist. Start here: Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress, it's enchanting; proceed, if you dare, to Once on a Moonless Night, a breathtaking tour-de-force fairytale.

More later.

18geneg
Editat: oct. 6, 2015, 11:51am

First, I want to thank whoever recommended me to this group. My participation in LT has shrivelled to resemble the dry weed in the hat of the Confidence Man. However, I do check in from time to time on a few groups, mostly related to History at 30,000 Feet and LOA.

My favorite book tends to be the last book I read, but there are a few times, such as at present where this does not hold true. I'm currently reading The Source by Michener, a book I've wanted to read since it was first published. I probably would have enjoyed it more had I read it then, rather than now with a lifetime of reading behind me.

My reading runs more than mostly to the 19th and early 20th century. I'm a character driven sort of guy and while plot driven page turners are fun, they somehow leave me feeling unsatisfied, like, okay, that was fun but, to quote Clara Peller, where's the beef?

My current favorite read is The Custom of the Country by Wharton. A modern novel about modern people. Everyone would benefit immensely by reading this work. I followed this up with Madame Bovary, a far inferior novel telling essentially the same story. Wharton and Henry James are my favorite authors.

I notice some like Nabokov. I don't. His books are a tad smug, filled with look at how cool and sharp I am kinds of writerly tricks and stuff, for, as far as I can tell no reason other than Nabokov stroking his ego. I've never read Lolita, and now, after reading several of his other works, I probably never will.

I love, absolutely love Flannery O'Connor, her stories never fail to yield new nuggets of wisdom and insight into the human condition, my favorite subject. I also love William Faulkner for much the same reason, although their motives are far different.

I'm also a lifelong fan of John Steinbeck.

I'm not a big syfy kind of guy, although I did cut my eye teeth on much syfy juvenalia from Bradbury, Asimov, Clarke, and Heinlein. I lost interest in syfy with Heinlein's Stranger in a Strange Land. What a crock of sh#t. I'm not a big fan of made up worlds in need of outlanders to make a story, there is more than enough happening in the world in which we live that we don't need to build strawmen to make what are quite often, in my opinion, specious points.

I don't like dystopias, either. I think dystopic fiction, movies, and teevee make people cynical about life. That's where we are today: either afraid, cynical, or both, and leaning toward Authoritarianism as a cure. No thank you.

So, thanks for the invitation. This is probably the most you'll get out of me at a time. Of course this list is woefully incomplete, but then it should point you to others that I like, Joseph Conrad, Sir Walter Scott, the great early American writers such as Washington Irving and Nathanial Hawthorne.

All of the above reflect my taste and my taste only. Each to his own is my philosophy of life and I respect others choices just as I hope others respect mine.

19RickHarsch
oct. 6, 2015, 12:50pm

I've never read a line of Conrad I didn't love. I am still behind, though, having read Heart of Darkness, Victory, and Lord Jim at least three times each, yet never Nostromo, Secret Agent, or Under Western Eyes.

20RickHarsch
oct. 6, 2015, 12:54pm

ETA: Too bad about Nabokov. I have read Lolita multiple times, but am not sure how many others I've read. There was one short story of his I loved, but can't recall the title.

A good discussion could come out of the topic of literary tricks. What are they. Why are they. When are they good. When are they bad. When are they pretentious. When are they an author pushing limits. And so on. I think Nabokov loved to be hated, so he would not mind looking down upon those who don't appreciate his tricks.

21seitherin
oct. 6, 2015, 1:18pm

>11 Cecrow:
>12 2wonderY: I'd like to second the recommendation for reading Terry Pratchett's Tiffany Aching books. I've just started the third one, Wintersmith.

As for favorite authors, some of them, in no particular order and just off the top of my head are:

Leon Uris
C. J. Cherryh
Robin McKinley
Patricia A. McKillip
Guy Gavriel Kay
Charles de Lint
Tad Williams
Connie Willis
Agatha Christie

I tend to favor science fiction, fantasy, and mystery/crime/thriller books though I do take the occasional foray into other genres.

22ahef1963
oct. 7, 2015, 6:06pm

>15 RickHarsch:. I hear that the film of The Stranger is excellent, but I don't want to see it. I love this book so much and can envision it so clearly in my head, that I fear that a filmmaker's perspective on it would mess with the mental images of it that I have!

>16 hardlyhardy: Doomsday Book is my favourite work of Connie Willis' - it takes place in medieval England, and I greatly admire the amount of research that she must have undertaken to write such a book. It's excellent.

>12 2wonderY: and >21 seitherin: - I third the recommendations for Pratchett's Tiffany Aching stories. They're so funny, and they have Granny Weatherwax in them; she makes any tale a delight.

23RickHarsch
oct. 7, 2015, 6:11pm

>22 ahef1963: Perfectly understandable. But one nice move they made was doing voiceovers in Camus' prose word for word (if Italian for French subtitled to English).

24Cecrow
oct. 8, 2015, 7:41am

Doomsday Book is the only Connie Willis I've read, and while I appreciate its quality I think it threw me because I didn't get what I expected. It was almost more historical fiction than science fiction. Definitely a more realistic vision of medieval times than most depictions.

25southernbooklady
oct. 8, 2015, 9:09am

Some names that I don't think anyone else has mentioned:

Willa Cather: The Song of the Lark is one of my "touchstone" books I return to again and again. But I love all her books.

James Still: I discovered him late, through a retrospective story collection called The Hills Remember, but I've since ferreted out everything I can find -- poetry, essays, stories, novels. They are all gorgeous. He's the grandfather of Appalachian literature, a writer to whom people like Ron Rash, Silas House, Robert Morgan, and Daniel Woodrell owe much.

Pat Barker: Her Regeneration Trilogy knocked me sideways and sent me on a binge of reading WWI poets. I can't think of war or violence without her ideas bleeding into the picture.

John Le Carre: His Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy epitomizes the espionage novel for me, such that no one else has ever come close. Whenever he has a new book out, I buy it without question.

Lawrence Durrell: The Alexandrian Quartet was a revelation for me in how stories could be told. But once again, I've read everything I can find by him. Some is good, some not so. His poetry is stilted. His travel narratives are a delight, though.

William Trevor: Possibly my favorite author for sheer beautiful writing. Equally at home in the short story or the novel form.

James Baldwin: Baldwin is my literary crush. Has been ever since I heard an interview with him with Studs Terkel. Once again, a writer who is beautiful in many forms -- play, novel, short story, essay -- and possibly the wisest person I've ever read.

John Banville: A little chilly, emotionally, but a brilliant writer. I love how well he puts words together, and how multi-layered every phrase feels. The first book I read was The Book of Evidence -- pretty dark. But I've marveled at all his novels.

Cesar Aria: An odd name to include, perhaps, because his fiction is so fast and furious and avante-garde. But the thing is, every time I read one of his fever-dream stories, it stays with me for days and weeks. If art is supposed to teach you to look at the world differently, through alien eyes, then Aria does that for me.

Barry Unsworth: I love his approach to fiction, especially historical fiction. Morality Play is one of the most intense little books I've ever read, but his longer works are wonderful as well.

Doris Betts: I love Southern literature, as must be obvious by now. Betts is one of those writers I think gets overlooked -- a beautiful storyteller, with all the clear-eyed focus on the grimness of what we tend to call "southern gothic" but she's also incredibly, irresistibly compassionate. A trait I don't associate with the likes of Welty or O'Connor. Souls Raised from the Dead is my favorite of her novels.

....I could go on and on here. But "favorite authors" for me is slightly different from "favorite books" in that it makes me think of the breadth of the author's work. I have many, many favorite books that are the one book best known by the author -- Olive Schreiner/Story of an African Farm, Ann Petry/The Street, Joy Kogawa/Obasan, Jamil Ahmad/The Wandering Falcon, etc etc. My literary universe is a veritable constellation of such books. But some authors are stars, and some....are galaxies.

262wonderY
oct. 8, 2015, 9:24am

>25 southernbooklady:
Doris Betts

Loved Souls Raised from the Dead, hated Heading West. It traumatized me, and I stopped reading her work.

27southernbooklady
oct. 8, 2015, 9:36am

>26 2wonderY: Cheer up! The Sharp Teeth of Love is about the Donner Party!

Betts came to my bookstore to talk about Souls Raised from the Dead when it first came out, and the questions eventually turned to what she was working on next. "A book about cannibalism." she said, laughing. But I've never forgot how she described finding the story. She was on vacation hiking in some western locale, and came across a description of the Donner Party, and discovered that Tamsen Donner was from North Carolina. There were letters from her about starting a new life.

"I read that," Betts said, "and I thought, 'That story is MINE.'"

28RickHarsch
oct. 8, 2015, 10:04am

>25 southernbooklady: A good list of writers I might of read but probably won't get around to, with the exception of Trevor. I don't read a lot of short stories, but I recall a few years back when his fat collected stories came out, and your mentioning him twice has me beginning to feel desire for that book. It could be my one short story book for the golden years.

I have read the Le Carre trilogy a couple times or more and they do feel like without a literarily novel approach they cannot be surpassed. And the BBC films were terrific.

Baldwin: I read him when I was supposed to and I know I would get a lot more out of them now. Back then, university years, I was just getting authors out of the way.

Durrell: The Quartet seems to really divide readers. I fall in the middle. I was not excited by his style, but I read all the books voluntarily so enjoyed them enough, and now I live about five kilometers from Capodistria.

Of the rest, I think if I don't change my way, and assuming I do buy the fat Trevor, my greatest loss will be not getting Barker and reading her.

29Cecrow
oct. 8, 2015, 11:27am

For some reason I keep mentioning and hearing mention of Lawrence Durrell this past week, but haven't read him yet myself. However I really enjoyed Paul Scott's The Raj Quartet so if the Alexandrian Quartet is anything comparable I'm all over that. I like the "same story told again from another's perspective that provides a whole new slant" approach.

30southernbooklady
oct. 8, 2015, 1:01pm

I think Durrell is more x-rated.

31RickHarsch
oct. 8, 2015, 1:01pm

Really?

32southernbooklady
oct. 8, 2015, 1:07pm

Hmmm, lets see. I remember child prostitution, paedophilia, lesbianism, homosexuality, cross dressing, and brother-sister incest. Also some Satanism, I think? Sorcery, certainly. And decapitation, and someone gets a hat pin through an eye. It's all very colorful.

33Cecrow
Editat: oct. 8, 2015, 1:30pm

So Gary Jennings, basically, lol, with a sheen of literary intent.

34RickHarsch
oct. 8, 2015, 1:53pm

>SBL, so I have a bad memory, well, I knew that, but...sounds like I should read it again!

35southernbooklady
Editat: oct. 8, 2015, 2:25pm

I read the Quartet out of order. The books were on my parents' bookshelf, alphabetical by title, so I picked up Balthazar first. It was a lucky chance for me, because the format was so unexpected, I hadn't realized you could tell a story like that. In bits and pieces and asides and notes and comments. I learned my lesson and read Justine next, but I'll always be grateful I picked up Balthazar first, and it remains my favorite of the books.

but basically, Justine is the story of a love affair between the narrator and the titular character. Balthazar is that same story, seen through the eyes of one of their friends. Mountolive is a third-person account of the same events, that suggests something else was really going on. And Clea is set after the events described in the first three books are over -- a hind sight view, if you will. But all of the books kind of weave in and out of each other. Braided storylines.

36BarbN
oct. 10, 2015, 7:27pm

Favorite living authors: Diana Gabaldon, Guy Gavriel Kay, China Mieville, Louise Penny

Favorite deceased authors: Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, Dorothy Dunnett, JRR Tolkein, TH White, Homer, Shakespeare plus uncountable others

38RickHarsch
oct. 11, 2015, 8:13pm

That will change once you read E. Vegas: bye bye Watkins.

39rocketjk
oct. 15, 2015, 4:17pm

#19> I'm with you on Conrad. Read The Secret Agent. Read it today. Lord Jim is my favorite book. My wife has to wear earplugs to bed, not because I snore, but because I quote lines from Lord Jim aloud in my sleep. I'm kidding. I snore.

Sabbath's Theater and The Counterlife by Philip Roth are at the top of my list.

Short list of funniest books I've ever read: Catch 22, Don Quixote, Emma and Confederacy of Dunces.

Others off the top of my head and/or perusing posts above: Wise Blood, Crime and Punishment, The Executioner's Song (Mailer), Horton Hatches the Egg (I'm not even kidding).

The greatest war novel I've ever read (talking personal preference, of course, rather than absolutes) is a Vietnam War novel called The 13th Valley by John M. Del Vecchio.

40.Monkey.
oct. 16, 2015, 4:35am

Alright, that's it, Don Quixote is going on my TBR Challenge list this year. It is time!

Also, yes thank you, Dr Seuss is definitely one of my top fav authors. Hilarity AND poignant messages, PLUS awesome illustrations. How much better can you get??

41Cecrow
oct. 16, 2015, 7:19am

>39 rocketjk:, from the Seuss library I most prefer Fox in Socks myself. I can just about do it aloud without stuttering now (father of a horde speaking).