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Favourite top 5 authors

I've been shopping at the old site again and I thought this was an interesting thread in light of the fact we are doing the Big Readers cup and have been asked to select authors for that.  Everyone has said on this thread which was started by Caro that it was a hard task, and I am wondering if any authors who were selected by various posters would no longer make that top five list.

From:   KiwiCaro1  (Original Message) Sent: 20/10/2008 09:14
I thought I would start a thread on the five novelists who mean the most to you, those that have perhaps been a constant enchantment through your lives, or who have come to be special to you.  I feel sure for Evie Hardy will be one and for Himadri Dickens is one.  But what about the rest?  And what about mine?

I would have to put Georgette Heyer who is a wonderful relaxing read for me anytime.  Light, delightful, well-researched, full of humour, just always a pleasure.   In earlier times I would have said L M Montgomery, but I seem to have outgrown her and the stylistic lapses and imperial attitudes irritate at times now.  

But who else would I pick up now and always expect to love? I would enjoy lots of crime novelists perhaps but perhaps none particularly more than the others and none to love really - maybe mostly Peter Robinson.  Alexander McCall Smith.

A couple of serious NZ writers perhaps.  Maurice Gee and Witi Ihimaera are those I have read quite a lot of and always loved.  

And perhaps Robertson Davies, though I haven't re-read him much.  Most of the classic writers I have just read one or two of, like Vanity Fair or Tom Jones and can't really say that as authors they have been a constant love.  I see I own 9 of Iris Murdoch's books and in earlier times might have placed her here, but not now, I think.  I wasn't that enamoured of the one I read recently.  I should probably put Jane Austen as someone whose works I have read all of and more than once, but it seems a little cliched and I am not certain I do really love her books.  

So what are yours?

Cheers, Caro.

From:   KlaraZthefirst Sent: 20/10/2008 11:19
It's so difficult to choose just five!

Dickens and the Brontes at the top of the list, I think (although lumping the Brontes together is probably cheating!)

After that---it's a huge dilemma.  Elizabeth Taylor and Stella Gibbons are authors I return to again and again (and since so much of Stella Gibbons's work is out of print, I really want to 'champion' her cause.) But then---which ONE author can I possibly pick out of the Gothic/fantasy genre I love so much? M.R.James? Mervyn Peake? Susanna Clarke? Bram Stoker? (Actually, Bram Stoker's probably out, because although I love 'Dracula',  I find everything else he wrote quite turgid.) And then there are all the writers I loved since childhood/adolescence---E. Nesbit, Ray Bradbury, Tove Janson......

This is a very difficult question---and I haven't even got round to thinking about George Eliot and Jane Austen!

From:   TheRejectAmidHair Sent: 20/10/2008 11:27
If I am to list the novelists I love the most, Tolstoy and Dickens are automatic choices. If we can extend this to writers of prose fiction (i.e. short stories as well as novels), then Conan Doyle is also an automatic choice for the Sherlock Holmes stories. Although the four Sherlock Holmes novels are all very fine, it’s those fifty-six short stories that really contain the essence of this wonderful fictional world. The older I get, the more I realise that these Sherlock Holmes stories are as indispensable to me as are War and Peace or Bleak House.
As for the other two, the choices are not so obvious. Of course, if you were to extend the list to include poets and dramatists, then the likes of Shakespeare, Wordsworth, Ibsen and Tagore would immediately suggest themselves, but keeping the list to writers of prose fiction, there are many I love deeply, but none who is as automatic a choice as the three I’ve mentioned. Joyce has his claims of course: Ulysses alone should be enough to justify his inclusion. However, Dubliners and A Portrait of the Artist, while wonderful works, are not perhaps indispensable in my personal canon, and Finnegans Wake is way beyond me. One should ideally include writers because one enjoys a broad range of their works, rather than a single title – even if that single title does happen to be a Ulysses or a Don Quixote.
I think the other two writers I’d include in my personal Top 5 of prose fiction writers are a somewhat odd couple – William Faulkner and P. G. Wodehouse. One thing this pair have in common is that they maintained an extraordinary high standard across a very large output. So this will be my five – Leo Tolstoy, Charles Dickens, Arthur Conan Doyle, William Faulkner, and P G Wodehouse.
Any others?
PS Klara – I don’t think lumping the Brontes together is cheating at all!

From:   bookfreak0 Sent: 20/10/2008 13:25
A difficult choice, but today I would give my 5 favourite authors as follows -

Thomas Hardy
Leo Tolstoy
Charles Dickens
Somerset Maugham
William Trevor
Joyce Carol Oates

I have left out Nabokov (author of my favourite book, Lolita) because I feel it's not fair to vote for him on the strength of  just one favourite book.

From:   MikeAlx Sent: 20/10/2008 13:58
Difficult, as I like to range around between authors and seldom read any one author's entire output. Also, some authors have produced one or two real gems but a lot of also-rans.

Philip K Dick
F Scott Fitzgerald
BS Johnson
Angela Carter
Patrick Hamilton

In order to get down to five, I have ruthlessly excluded short-story writers (my favourites being Donald Barthelme and Jorge Luis Borges), foreign-language writers (Calvino, Robbe-Grillet etc.) and even had to leave out the author of one of my favourite novels, Alasdair Gray.

The ones I include are writers I return to again and again - Dick, for his mindblowing ideas, his grasp of humanity (and its enemies), and his satirical critique of consumerism; Fitzgerald for his shimmering prose and simultaneous revelation of the brilliant glamour and dark reality of the interwar years; Johnson for his gloomy humour and effortlessly evocative prose; Carter for her wonderful, overblown use of language and unashamed fantastical elements; and Patrick Hamilton for his matchless ear for dialogue and wonderful descriptions of life in the seedy saloon bars and boarding houses of London between the wars.

From:   bookfreak0 Sent: 20/10/2008 19:13
Oops, I forgot John Steinbeck!   I'll have to turf Joyce Carol Oates off my list to make room for him.......

From:   KiwiCaro1 Sent: 20/10/2008 20:33
You'll have to turf off someone else too, bookfreak, as you already had six authors!  I must read Angela Carter, Mike, since those are some of the qualities I love in Robertson Davies.

Cheers, Caro.

From:   lunababymoonchild Sent: 20/10/2008 22:53
As Mike says, difficult, but in my case it's diffcult to get up to five authors.

In no particular order :

Stephen King, always a favourite although not read in a very (too) long time.
Ian Rankin, Rebus novels bring particular joy and I'm nearly at the end of them.
J K Rowling, really like Harry Potter and I'm cleraly at the end of them
Virginia Andrews, really liked her Dollanganger Family series
Mario Puzo, The Godfather being a particular favourite but have read some others.


From:   TristansGhost Sent: 21/10/2008 00:24
There's only a few I real loads of so it would probably be:

James Herriot
Great fun and lit my interest in reading

Ian Fleming
Read them all and great fun and I still re-read Dr No every so often

Stephen King
He's a git. Gets you involved in the characters and then puts them in horeneous situations

Joane Harris
Easy engaging whoelsome reads.

J K Rowling
What an imagination and what fun.

Honerable mentions to Spike Milligan, Terry Prachett, Arther Conan Doyle, Daphine du Maurier, Kate Atkinson, Dan Brown, Robert Harris. Hardy could force his way in the top 5 ahead of Dickens if the others are as good as Far from the Madding Crowd.

From:   RustyNutSinger1 Sent: 21/10/2008 03:26
Interesting you mention Robertson Davies, Caro, as I'm just getting into my first, 'Fifth Business' and enjoying it quite a lot more than I thought I would. Perhaps he'll become one of my favourites.

Five beloved authors....that's tough!
The first isn't - for me it's Patrick O'Brian and probably always will be. No author has brought me so much pleasure for so long.
And although not in the same league I'd have to include Bernard Cornwell, since I've read more books by him than any other author and enjoyed most of them.
Charles Dickens makes the cut - not that I've read many of his, but I regard him very highly.
Mark Twain certainly.
And................I'll get back to you on a fifth.

From:   lunababymoonchild Sent: 21/10/2008 11:05
Yes, I remembered James Herriot after I posted - wouldn't you know   - and wondered if he'd be considered a novelist since he was a vet first and his books were based on his life.  Splitting hairs, I know.  

I read all of his when a teenager and just bought a secondhand omnibus recently for a re-read. Ah, happy days.


From:   LatinaMagistra Sent: 22/10/2008 05:25
Dickens, of course, and Byatt, Eco, Dostoevsky, Hesse.

From:   Evie_again Sent: 24/10/2008 18:27
Ooh, a tough one, this! In no particular order:

George Eliot
Thomas Hardy
AS Byatt
F. Scott Fitzgerald
Jane Austen

Ask me again tomorrow, and you may get a slightly different answer! Eliot and Hardy will always be in there, but there are others vying for the other three places.

From:   Sally4nna Sent: 24/10/2008 21:54
I dropped in to see what the beef was about getting the boot and stumbled on this delicious question. I don't post much but I do 'lurk' and enjoy everyone else's posts. But who can resist a list...?
I'm a variety junkie and move from author to author a lot, so I might not have the kind of familiarity you maybe need to call someone a favourite writer. There's so many writers and so little time to be alive!!! But, the five authors I've stuck with more than the norm due to liking them are..
Angela Carter, John Irving, Jane Austen, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Emile Zola, Margaret Attwood.

I'm impatiently trying to get to these authors and I strongly suspect they may become favourites in the future ....
Italo Calvino, Philip Pullman, Dostoevsky, Raymond Carver,

From:   RustyNutSinger1 Sent: 24/10/2008 23:16
Welcome back, Evie. Please tell us about where you were and what you did there.

From:   maidens-blush Sent: 25/10/2008 08:16
Jane Austen
Rupa Goswami
Dorothy Richardson
Mary Webb
LM Montgomery

From:   Baron_Morgan Sent: 25/10/2008 10:09
My five beloved authors have to be those I keep coming back to, whose works are constantly by my bedside so that I can dip in when I please and they never stale -

P G Wodehouse
Jack Vance
Jan Stewer
Flann O'Brien

However, those authors I admire the most for their work and who have been most influential make up an almost completely different list -

P G Wodehouse
Emile Zola
Pierre Louys
George Orwell
Frank Harris (allegedly)

I'd also like to fit Conan Doyle in somewhere, but he falls between two stools.

From:   fiveowls Sent: 25/10/2008 15:46
Yes, this is tricky not least because certain authors move in and out of the ‘favourites’ category.

Even so, these stay with me:

George Eliot
Jane Austen
David Mitchell
Niall Williams

And, in hot pursuit, I have Thomas Hardy, Vikram Seth and Graham Swift.

From:   Not_Smart_Just_Lucky Sent: 26/10/2008 15:49
I'd have three above and beyond the rest; Agatha Christie, Terry Pratchett and John Steinbeck. After that, it would take some thinking about. There are lots of authors worthy of a place in the top 5. F Scott Fitzgerald, Flann O'Brien, JK Rowling, Philip Pullman, Ian Fleming, JRR Tolkien, Douglas Adams, George Orwell, Charles Dickens, Susanna Clarke, Donna Tartt, Aldous Huxley, Mervyn Peake, Wilkie Collins, CS Lewis, and they're only the ones that occur to me as I type.

Just to have a list, I'm going to say that my top 5 authors (for now) are;

John Steinbeck
Agatha Christie
Terry Pratchett

George Orwell
Don Conroy (purely because he was a 'beloved author' as a child)

From:   AIEdwards  Sent: 26/10/2008 23:58
This is always subject to change but today's five are:

John Brunner - it's a real shame he never made more money in his lifetime, well written science fiction with realistic three dimensional characters and a created world I recognise because it's so similar to the real one, I almost suspect they'd burn Brunner at the stake for his prescience if he wasn't already dead.

Somtow Sucharitkul (aka S P Somtow) - a minor member of the Thai royal family who has produced some excellent science fiction and fantasy over the years and in particular Moon Dance which brings a pack of European werewolves to the Wild West.

Bruce Sterling - because I love the worlds he creates.  In particular I find myself reading Holy Fire and Distraction over and over again.

Mitsuo Kirino - I've only read two of her novels (Out and Grotesque), because I don't read Japanese.  Those two were magnificent though.  Superficially detective fiction but she paints pictures of Japanese working class lives that I don't think I've seen elsewhere.

Max Brooks - Only because I'm rereading the magnificent "oral History" of World War Z.

From:   A_is_for_apple0 Sent: 29/10/2008 13:39
Ooh this is a hard one - but a good thread!

Lets see...

I'd have to pick Catherine Cookson as her books for me always seem to be a nice bit of easy reading when I am not really in the mood for anything or have a reading block, J K Rowling as I just love all the Harry Potter books, Charles Dickens as Bleak House is the best book I have ever read and now I have since read a few more Dickens books and they are all excellent (namely Hard Times, The old curiosity shop and David Copperfield)

I think thats all really, I don't have five - only three, this is probably because I mainly read non-fiction. They are a very varied mixed three though, you cannot get much further apart than Charles Dickens, Catherine Cookson and J K Rowling.

From:   mirandashellathome Sent: 04/11/2008 12:54
If favourite means books I keep coming back to then it would be:

Terry Pratchett, Agatha Christie, Arthur C Clark, Ruth Rendall and Jane Austen....all for different reasons.

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