My Top Ten Authors…

…oh dear.

I was tempted to jump temporarily onto that ‘Top Ten Tuesday’ meme, because today’s meme asks for our Top Ten Authors, and that seemed like a big enough question to be interesting.


Unfortunately… it turns out I don’t have ten top authors.


The problem is, most of my high-volume reading was done as a teenager, when my taste in books was… generous. So if I look at my GR ‘most read authors’ list, it’s dominated by people like Weiss, Eddings, McCaffrey, Feist, Salvatore, Gemmell, Cunningham, Jordan, Niles, Kirchoff, Charrette…

Now, I’m past my post-teenage “ugh, all that stuff was shit!” phase. I’d like to think I’ve come to realise (again) that a fun story can make for a good book even when its writing is not Nobel-level and its plot is not entirely original. But that just means that some of these writers might be “not bad”, or even “good”. It doesn’t mean any of them deserve ‘favourite’ status – and if they do, I just haven’t re-read them recently enough to know that.

On the other hand, the writers who impress me now – well, I don’t know too many of them, and I just haven’t read enough of their books. I can’t call Christopher Priest one of my top ten favourite authors, because good gods I’ve only read two of his books! Sure, they were both seriously good books, but… well, not only have I not read his other works, I’m not sure I’ve developed the emotional attachment to him yet to call him a favourite. My favourite authors when I was young – I bought their books in hardback the moment they came out because I loved those writers. I don’t buy anyone’s books in hardback now.

Terry Pratchett and Robin Hobb both deserve to go on my top ten list. Maybe Martin, because although I have reservations about his work I am going to buy his next book in hardback when it comes out (ditto Hobb and Pratchett). And I guess Tolkien needs to be there, because… well, that’s a part of me that mere time can’t wrest out of me. But beyond that? I’ve pretty much just got lists of people I used to like and I ought to go back and see how much I still like them but it probably will be ‘not much’, and lists of people I ought to read more of to see whether I’m going to like them or not.

This feels a bit sad to me, come to think of it. I miss having favourite authors.

So anyway, is this just me being weird, or does anybody else not have ten favourites they can name?


8 thoughts on “My Top Ten Authors…

  1. jonafras says:

    My issue is probably similar to yours – though I’d usually come across the problem as this: I can easily name about 5 authors I really love (three of which, unsurprisingly, would overlap with your proto-list; still not quite sure about Martin), but for the next few…

    Maybe as your reading horizons keep on broadening you come to be aware of just how much good (or decent, or fun) writing is out there; and from that it becomes more and more difficult to cull favourites that would really, really stand out.

    It might also be easier if we’re just talking about single books… there are a lot of authors who have written what I find are one or two really stunning novels, but the fact that the rest of their opus is rather meh-ish makes me reluctant to put them on this kind of list.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Let’s see how many I get… and I’ll include also authors of short forms, like short stories, literary sketches, and essays, otherwise I’d have to leave out some of my absolute favourites. In no particular order;
    Pratchett, Orwell, Kurt Tucholsky, Lyudmila Petrushevskaya, Dickens (yes, that Dickens), Tolkien, Karl May (a boyhood favourite, but still), Frank O’Connor… and now I’ve started thinking “who else could I add”, and that probably means there is noone else who comes near these in favourite status, so I get eight. If we include poets, I’d add Heine, but I think you didn’t mean to include authors who mainly do poetry?
    As you see, I didn’t include Martin – I love ASOIAF, but I love this specific creation, and I’m not sure whether I’d like to read other things written by him. Maybe that’s unfair, but as it says, “favourite author”, we’re talking abou favoritism, not fairness. 😉

  3. Hans says:

    That anonympos above was me – I posted not from my usual Computer and I didn’t notice that I wasn’t signed in automatically.

  4. Yeah, i’m dubious about Martin too. If this were ten years ago, after I’d just finished A Storm of Swords, I’d have him on the list for sure. Or maybe even if it was just while I was reading A Dance of Dragons, because unlike most people I did really like that and it reminded me how much I used to like Martin (having been underwhelmed by a re-read of GOT). But I don’t think I love him. However, ‘The Winds of Winter’ is still the only book other than ‘Fool’s Quest’ and ‘The Shepherd’s Crown’ that is on my insta-buy list.

    Hans has a good point about author vs work… I haven’t read Martin’s other works either. But then, I haven’t read Hobb’s other works either! I haven’t read her Soldier Son books, and I haven’t read her books under her other pseudonym. Come to think of it, I haven’t even read all the Pratchett books.

    Anyway, now you’ve got me thinking: maybe I could do a list of ten authors who WERE my favourites?

  5. lynnsbooks says:

    This is a difficult list to create because part of me loves some of the books I feel nostalgic for – like DuMaurier and Toilkien and part of me loves the books I’m now discovering. I went for a mix of the two although probably focused more on recent reads. I also kind of went for authors that I firmly look out for – to see what they’re up to and new releases. I figure if I’m bothered enough to search them out then i must like them. Still hard choices!
    Lynn 😀

  6. Nathan says:

    I get it. How many books does an author have to have out to make a list like this? I think Jon Strange and Mr Norrell is one of the best books I read in the last five years. So Clarke is batting 1000% on that one. But she can’t crack the list on one book, right?

    So Pratchett for sure. After that… Give me some time.

  7. Anonymous says:

    The best author I read in my teenage years is probably Milan Kundera, and I still think he’s a literary genius. Top ten? Gosh, that’s hard. Bertrand Russell is probably in there. Maybe Oscar Wilde? I read Wilde as a teenager too, thanks to Project Gutenberg and school, where we read some of his short stories that inspired me to go seek him out.

    The thing is, I don’t really remember what authors I’ve read until events remind me of them. I just keep reading things compulsively. This is different for fanfiction, for example. I’ve read so few of those that I can say with confidence that Alexandra Quick and the Lands Below by Inverarity is one of the best I’ve ever read.

    But regarding authors, I’m just confused. I love Homer, Aeschylus and Goethe, but they’re so ancient. Should I go literary and include Borges and Garcia? I love the science fiction genre, so maybe Neal Stephenson or Greg Egan? How about Rudyard Kipling or better still, the speculative philosophy of Lucian Blaga? Speaking of philosophy, I’ve been recently loving books that would bore most people to tears: Technical works by the analytic philosopher Timothy Williamson, even though I’m not an academic philosopher or a philosophy student. I also love the transhumanist blogger Eliezer Yudkowsky, and although I don’t agree with many things he says, his stuff is probably among the best I’ve ever read. But then, so is Jamie Hernandez’ Love and Rockets comic book!

    I think even my top three would change drastically on the basis of my random mood swings, let alone my top ten. In some of my more peculiar moods, I compulsively read the medieval mystic Henry Suso. How many does that make?

    1. Kundera
    2. Russell
    3. Wilde
    4. Borges
    5. Egan
    6. Blaga
    7. Williamson
    8. Yudkowsky
    9. Hernandez
    10. Suso


  8. Rabindranauth says:

    I can only name three: China Mieville, Joe Abercrombie and Susanna Clarke. Everyone else I’ve either only read part of their bibliography, only liked part of their bibliography, or I’m not sure how they’d live up to my current tastes, given the way it’s been in flux as of late.

    Contenders for me though would be: Brandon Sanderson, Michael Moorcock, Alexandre Dumas, and Michael Crichton.

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