In the same vein as IB's "What I'm reading now" post, I'm very interested in this subject.
Janet Evanovich, I like her characters, and most of her mystery plots Alexander McCall Smith's "No.1 Ladies' Detective Agency," I like the characters, humor and his knowledge of the African culture/ setting
the late Donald E. Westlake, his Dortmunder comic caper series, funny and good characters The Dancing Aztecs, by Donald E Westlake, comic caper in the vein of the movie "It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World."
Shogun, by James Clavell, vigorous characters and incident, good adventure scenes, clean writing style
George McDonald Fraser's "Flashman" series, shows the value of research, I've learned a great deal about the history of various places through Fraser's work.
The Pyrates, by George McDonald Fraser, manages to write a good adventure novel while at the SAME TIME parodying the pirate novel.
Dune, by Frank Herbert, depth of world-building Startide Rising, by David Brin, depth of world-building and fine adventure Glory Season, by David Brin, depth of world-building
Lord of the Rings, depth of world-building Deed Of Paksennarion, by Elizabeth Moon, the only writer I've seen who can mimic Tolkien without being a cheap rip-off.
Watchers, by Dean Koontz, 'stay up til 3AM suspense'
Native Tongue, by Karl Hiassen, humor Lucky You, by Karl Hiassen, humor
Boy's Life by Robert R. McCammon. Because it throws magic and mystery into a coming of age story, set in turbulent sixties Alabama.
The Wolf's Hour by Robert McCammon. Because it is an excellent original werewolf story woven through WWI and WWII (mostly the latter). McCammon is excellent with milieu and character, which really stands out in these books.
Nathaniel by John Saul. Again, character and milieu, and secrets without withholding.
Assassin's Apprentice, Royal Assassin and Assassin's Quest by Robin Hobb (The Farseer Trilogy). She takes 1st person perspective and weaves a sympathetic tale set with limited magic and unlimited danger.
A Song of Ice and Fire: A Game of Thrones, A Clash of Kings, A Storm of Swords, A Feast For Crows and A Dance With Dragons by George R. R. Martin. He shows superb use of plotting, character, milieu, religious and magic systems. In this series Martin shows us his mastery.
The Rigante Series: A Sword in the Storm, Midnight Falcon, Ravenheart, and Stormrider and The Drenai Books: Legend, The King Beyond the Gate, Quest for Lost Heroes, Waylander, In the Realm of the Wolf, The First Chronicles of Druss the Legend, The Legend of the Deathwalker, Hero in the Shadows, White Wolf, The Swords of Night and Day[/i and [i]Winter Warriors, by David Gemmell, because of his characters, the code they live by, and the milieu that is so richly created.
The Dune Saga, because of the milieu, the religions, the plotting, the rules of magic, the brilliance of the twist God Emperor of Dune brings about in the original series, and the depth of the histories Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson were able to generate.
The Saga of Seven Suns by Kevin J. Anderson for the same reasons as Dune. I also very much loved his Captain Nemo.
Orson Scott Card's Enderverse books, especially the Bean parallels. Strength of character, dialogue, hot and cold penetration...
Steve Perry's Matador series: The Man Who Never Missed, Matadora!, The Machiavelli Interface, The 97th Step, The Albino Knife, Black Steel, Brother Death, The Omega Cage (with Michael Reaves) and The Musashi Flex. Talk about a hook: "Death came for him from the shadows..." Awesome action-packed plotlines and a wide array of characters.
Bernard Cornwell brings to life nearly any subject he touches.
The Conqueror Series: Wolf of the Plains, Lords of the Bow and Bones of the Hills by Conn Iggulden. He lived with the Mongols for a year, and has a definite texture to his milieu. His characters are believable, and have tremendous struggles.
C. S. Forester's Hornblower series, for believable characters, true historical fact without becoming menotonous and the ability to immerse readers well beyond the days he wrote.
John D. MacDonald. 'Nuff said.
Jahn Sandford's Prey series.
Mario Puzo's The Sicilian and The Godfather because of his characters and their milieu, and the oxymonic views of family. The Sicilian is a more modern version of Robin Hood.
Robert Ludlum's spy thrillers: The Bourne Identity, The Bourne Supremacy, The Bourne Ultimatum, The Janson Directive, The Scorpio Illusion, The Tristan Betrayal, The Matarese Circle, The Matarese Countdown, The Sigma Protocol, etc...
Dean R. Koontz's Cold Fire, Dark Rivers of the Heart, Dragon Tears, The Voice of the Night, Intensity and Whispers.
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes.
Agatha Christie's Hercule Poirot and Miss Jane Marple
Mainstream: To Kill a Mockingbrid by Harper Lee, for characters.
The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Duams. 'Nuff Said.
Charles Dickens. 'Nuff Said.
Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by our own Jamie Ford. For character and dual milieus.
If I need to, I'll add more later...
[This message has been edited by InarticulateBabbler (edited June 07, 2009).]
I have way too many favorites, but I'll jot down some.
The Secret History by Donna Tartt for pacing, character voice, mastery of story telling and word smithing.
Pretty much all of Mary Renault's historical fiction--Fire From Heaven,The Persian Boy, Funeral Games, The King Must Die, The Bull From the Sea--for mastery of characterization, emotional depth, skill in first person narrative, and suspense. I am amazed at how she can make me afraid to turn the page for fear of what will happen next, even when I know the story.
David Brin's Star Tide Rising. I like his others, too, but this is my favorite. I can't really remember why.
Dan Simmons's Hyperion for richness of milieu, interweaving of scholarship and science fiction.
William Barton's When We Were Real and When Heaven Fell, for power of effectiveness of first person narrative and his fearless treatment of sex and psychology.
Brightness Falls From The Air by James Tiptree Jr. for her suspense, successful use of present tense, and a magical story.
A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving, for his power of first person narrative (I was doing a study of first person at some point), his ability to shift from "present" to past without ever confusing the reader, and the way he created such a powerful character (the mother) without ever actually describing her.
A Clash of Kings by GRR Martin, for amazing characterization, milieu, and plot. Didn't like his other books so much.
The Crystal Cave, The Hollow Hills, and The Last Enchantment by Mary Stewart, again, for power of first person narrative and recreation of a time and place.
Arslan by M.J. Engh. She switches characters half way through--what we are told is a big no-no, yet it's such an amazing story.
The Bone People by Keri Hulme, for her unorthodox style and story telling techniques.
George McDonald's Mirror, Mirror and Wicked for language artistry and compelling characters.
Jane Austen, for her characters and her charming prose.
Tolkien, of course.
The Tin Drum by Gunter Grass for its perversity.
For mysteries, I like Dick Francis and Ruth Rendell.
Oh yeah, and I loved Robert Aspirin's Another Fine Myth series because they were hilarious. At least, I thought so at the time (I was young.)
Okay, this list is getting too long and I'm sure I've written this down before....
[This message has been edited by annepin (edited June 09, 2009).]
[This message has been edited by annepin (edited June 09, 2009).]
My current favorite author is Brandon Sanderson, but that could be flavored because the last book I read was by him.
Dorothy Dunnett was an awesome historical fiction novelist. She's one of my top picks.
Elizabeth Moon's Paksennarrion trilogy (sic).
Niven and Pournelle made a great team. Lucifer's Hammer comes to mind (tension-packed end-of-the-world and beyond).
I would have said Tolkien, except now I'm reading the FOTR to my five-year old and he can't sit through all the exposition, setting descriptions, and dialogue; he's teaching me to cringe when the book goes on and on, whereas I wouldn't mind while reading to myself. It doesn't help when he says, "That's too scary, read ahead and summarize it!" Yet, he insists the series is great and he wants to keep going. Kids.
In the past I would have said Raymond Feist, but Hatrack has taught me to be too particular to enjoy his stuff now. Same for Terry Brooks.
For me, I have a soft spot for old Piers Anthony. His Demon's Don't Dream was the very first fantasy I ever read, and I was hooked in the genre for life.
Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time got me throught the worst part of Junior high, and connected me with the greatest group of friends both on the page and in real life.
And a personal favorite, So You Want to be a Wizard, and Deep Wizardry, by Diane Duane. Read them to your children. Really interesting system of magic, and the hero is a thirteen year old girl who gets picked on and escapes into books. I don't know why I loved them so much as a thirteen year old girl who got picked on and escaped into books. Tell me if you can read it and are not tempted to say the oath aloud, just in case.
I love Tamora Pierse's Alanna series because of the day I was in the mood to read one of her books, and didn't have a car. I couldn't go to the library, so with no previous experience I decided to write my own. That was four years and one hundred and fifty thousand words ago.
Currently, my favorite authors are Kurt Vonnegut, Terry Pratchett, and Douglas Adams.
[This message has been edited by shimiqua (edited July 13, 2009).]
Never got around to posting when this was active before, but...
Of the Big Three SF writers---that's Asimov, Clarke, and Heinlein, for those of you who don't know---I reread some of Heinlein every few years, of late when a new edition emerges from the bowels of publishing...and Clarke and Asimov, less often.
Beyond that...I always come back to H. Beam Piper, sooner or later. Tolkien, of course, too---might as well include fantasy. Sturgeon, to an extent.
Beyond that, it breaks down into more specific works, rather than writers. There's a lot of Silverberg I'll read and reread, but about half of his output from his "reemergence" in the early 1960s, I haven't read at all. There's a four-volume fantasy set by Niel Hancock, released in the 1970s when the commercial fantasy boom was just starting, that, for all its flaws and oddities, I've reread nearly every year since.
Other writers, from John Rackham to Bruce Catton, Barbara Tuchmann to Emile Schumacher, Philip Jose Farmer to James Blish...well, usually it's just one of their works that keeps me coming back.
James Clavell's Asian Saga (Tai Pan, Shogun, Noble House, etc) I happened upon it just when I was starting to really get into literature. The first lessons on writing I got from him. I should reread some of it sometime.
Bernard Cornwell's stuff is always entertaining. The Warlord Chronicles stand at the top of the pile along with Azincourt.
Fyodor Doestoesvky's The Brothers Karamazov. I just finished reading this one, and, man, am I feeling accomplished. One of the greatest literary works of all time. I truly feel enriched.
Jonathan Safran-Foer's Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. Highly experimental. You will be emotionally manipulated.
Heinlein, of course. Starship Troopers, Methuselah's Children.
Hemingway's The Old Man and the Sea. A great tale. This should be a lesson to every aspiring author on how to get the reader to care about what happens through everything.
Stephen King's Dark Tower Saga. Long as hell, but great entertainment.
C.S. Lewis, The Chronicles of Narnia. You gotta love those old fantasy tales. They're like safe place you can go to whenever you need them.
Haruki Murakami's <insert bibliography here>. One my favorite writers ever. If not my absolute favorite. Kafka on the Shore, and South of the Border, West of the Sun are must reads by him.
Homer, The Odyssey. I mean, come on!
Wilbur Smith, The Quest. I loved this and was craving for more once I'd finished it.
Natsume Soseki, I Am a Cat. A book written with true wit. Plus, it's a cat!
Tolkien, for obvious reasons.
Others books I love:
The first three books from the Sword of Truth series by Terry Goodkind, before they got heavyhanded on the indoctrination. I cried tears of joy at the end of Wizard's First Rule. It was that good.
A Song of Ice and Fire stands at the top of my fantasy book list.
The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss. I can't wait to read more from this guy. Moderation in all the right places, knows exactly when to push it.
The Wheel of Time is just under The Lord of the Rings.
As for scifi...
Herbert's Dune rocks my universe. My flat out favorite.
OSC's Ender's Game. I loved this in spite of my innate hatred of children.
Then there's... Anne Rice with the vampire chronicles, Harry Potter, Kurt Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse Five, Breakfast for Champions.
The Epic of Gilgamesh. I adore this even more than I do the Odyssey.
David Eddings' Belgariad and Malloreon books. I love the interaction among the unlikely band of heroes, and how each country they visit puts a twist on a different sort of fantasy cliche.
Katherine Kurtz's Deryni novels, although her later ones aren't as compelling.
Robert Asprin's Myth and Douglas Adams' Hitchhiker always make me laugh.
OSC's Ender series, including those about Bean. When I was in junior high, I so wished I were at battle school instead, bouncing around in zero gravity. But I thought "Speaker" was the better book.
Anne McCaffrey's Pern. It took me three tries to get into "Dragonflight," but once I did, I went through it and the rest of what she had written quickly. I haven't read any Pern books by her son, though.
Edited to add: Harry Potter. How could I have forgotten? I love the whole series, but especially "Azkaban" and "Half-Blood Prince."
This summer, I've been reading Janet Evanovich, Shana Abe, Bernard Cornwell, James Patrick Kelly and Sherrilyn Kenyon.
[This message has been edited by JenniferHicks (edited July 13, 2009).]
Some of my favorites that haven't been mentioned:
Dean Koontz, Odd Thomas series. One of the most unique characters I've ever read. The books are very fast paced and are hard to put down.
Tim O'Brien, The Things They Carried. Set during the Vietnam War, it is a collection of short stories following a series of characters as they deal with the horrors of the War. All I can say is "Wow."
Stephen King's, The Stand. Truly epic (and massive). Besides the Dark Tower series, this is his best work.
Gregory Maguire, Wicked/Son of a Witch. what a different take on a classic story. It is dark, and so not like the Musical - (if you've seen it). The world of Oz is deeper (and darker) than ever envisioned by L. Frank Baum.
And OSC's, The Worthing Saga. I especially loved the Tales of Capital part and have always wanted there to be a re-visitation of them. The creation of that world is just mesmerizing to me.