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Your 3 favorite contemporary authors: a book question


People here like to read. Let’s share some recommendations.

I was wondering what people’s three favorite living, working authors were.

Please list them, along with the book of theirs that you’d most recommend. If you don’t have three favorite, feel free to contribute one or two.

As a bonus question, also list your favorite classic author along with his or her recommended book.


Stephen King is, by far, my favorite author. Since I first came across a paperback of 'Salem’s Lot back in 1978, I have been an avid fan of his style of fiction writing and have read everything of I could get my hands on. One of the things I love about reading his novels and short stories is that he occasionally throws in an Easter egg that ties one story to the events of another, giving the sense that all his stories share a common universe. Recommended: The Stand

Tana French is an Irish writer of crime novels that are loosely connected, with each novel (there are five so far) focusing on a different protagonist within the Dublin Murder squad. When her characters speak, I can hear their Dublin accents, and the police detectives are as complicated and screwed up as the killers they are trying to catch. My daughter introduced me to the first novel, and I anxiously await the next one (due in August 2016). This is the one author I always recommend to people, since I think she deserves wider recognition. Recommended: start with In the Woods

David McCullough is a wonderful historian and biographer, whose John Adams was the first nonfiction book I read voluntarily. I recently read his first book from 1968, The Johnstown Flood, and his thorough research and attention to detail was evident even then. Recommended: John Adams or 1776

Honorable mention to historian Erik Larson (not the Savage Dragon guy), who is almost as good as McCullough. I strongly recommend his true account of a serial killer during the Chicago World’s Fair in the late 19th century, Devil in the White City.

As for favorite classic author, while I love Charles Dickens and HG Wells, my greatest love is reserved for three American authors: Steinbeck, Hemingway, and Fitzgerald. Of these, I would put John Steinbeck higher on the pedestal, and strongly recommend either The Grapes of Wrath or Of Mice and Men.

Damn, this topic was tougher than I thought it would be. I didn’t even get to mention my favorite pulp writer Robert E. Howard.


In some cases I’m going to list more than one book

Don Winslow
Power of Dog
The last two are essentially the fictionalized history of the drug trade in Mexico, with Cartel being the sequel to PoD

David Mitchell
Everything is great but…
He writes intricately inter-connected gerne defying books with a style that is unparalleled. My current living favorite

Stephen King
The Stand
Most anything is good. The living Charles Dickens

Honorable Mention:

Neil Gaiman
American Gods

Honorable Mention 2:
Erik Larwson
Devil in The White City
Historical Non-fiction that reads better than anything out there


Cormac McCarthy
Blood Meridian - The finest piece of writing I have ever beheld. Changed the way I think about words and how I view the world.
The Road - This often gets hailed as McCarthy’s best book. But it’s not better than Blood Meridian. It’s still very good, though.

Haruki Murakami
Kafka on the Shore - I don’t know if I’ve related to a book more than I did this one. It’s haunting, funny, profound. My 2nd favorite book.
The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle - Almost as good as Kafka, but a little long.

Toni Morrison
The Bluest Eye - Opened up my eyes as an 11th grader to the more insidious forms of racism in the world. One of the most disturbing books I’ve ever read.
Beloved - What this woman does with time is intimidating. A paragraph will take you back and forth over a span of twenty years in one seamless motion.

Favorite novel by a dead author - Dune

Favorite novel by someone who only ever wrote one novel - Arundhati Roy’s The God of Small Things


I just read this…maybe back in December or January.

Cass recommended it to me because she liked it.

I thought it was beautifully written but fairly meandering. I kept waiting for it to focus on the interesting stuff, stuff it would tease or hint at for a chapter or two, but then sort of abandon.


I am a heroic fiction kind of guy. I like them in my funny books and the ones with no pictures as well.

  1. Jim Butcher and Harry Dresden- if you haven’t read any of his, start at the beginning

  2. Kim Harrison and Rachel Morgan- She is in post awakening supernatural Cincinnati. It is a incredibly well built world. Ravhel starts the first book getting fired frim her job hunting down supernatural criminals and becomes a P.I. all her titles are take offs on Clint Eastwood movies.

  3. Simon Green. He has 3 heroes i enjoyed reading. One is Eddie Drood of the Secret Histories. All these books are like Harrison’s in that their titles all pay homage to movies. All the titles are takeoffs on Bond movies. The other 2 are John Taylor and Owen Deathstalker. Taylor’s series is called Nightside and Owen’s all have Deathstalker in the title.

All of these heroes have amazing abilities but one of the best things about them is the supporting characters. Murphy, Bob, mouse, carpenter family,Ivy,jenks,Al, the Drood family, and Molly Metcalf all are wonderful characters who make the stories even greater


That’s a tough one. If I was to think about it and look over my bookshelves, I might come back with something different, but off hand I would probably come up with the following:

  • John Connolly- He’s an Irish writer, who is best known for writing crime novels based in Maine (the Charley Parker series). The novels are more than a little influenced by Stephen King, with hints of the supernatural bleeding into the everyday world. Connolly also cites Ross McDonald as a big influence. Loss and empathy are big themes in his novels. I also like his prose style. He writes beautifully. He has also written non-crime fiction novels like The Book of Lost Things. If John Connolly writes something, I will buy it (or beg someone else to do it for me)…I could tell you about the time I came across him in Tower Records in Dublin, but the story doesn’t cast me in a favourable light.

  • Neil Gaiman- I find it hard to separate Neil Gaiman’s prose work from his comics work. His voice is pretty consistent. I found myself crying at the end of Ocean at the End of the Lane.

  • Michael Chabon - Like a lot of people of a geeky persuasion, I came across Mr. Chabon when The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay was released. It is one of my favourite books. Between buying copies for myself, for gifts, for replacements for copies which other people borrowed but never returned, I figure that I have probably bought this book around 10 times. I love it deeply. Next to that I probably enjoyed Telegraph Avenue.

I’m currently enjoying Undermajordomo Minor by Patrick Dewitt. I loved The Sisters Brothers. If we were doing this thread again in a couple of years, I could see his name being in my top 3.

I like Stephen King and I think that he is a brilliant storyteller, but I find that his prose style takes me out of the story sometimes, which may be because I’m not American. The Stand is great though and I’m slowly working my way through The Dark Tower series.

I’ve never read any her novels, but will check them out. They sound right up my alley. Thank you for the recommendation.

For classic authors, I am a huge Dickens fan. Likewise I love Hemingway’s writing. I love how descriptive it is. You can feel the heat on the back of your neck or the smell of the pine forests. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by the late, lamented Hunter S Thompson blew my mind when I first read it and completely changed how I thought about writing. However the holy trinity of Douglas Adams, Terry Pratchett and PG Wodehouse never fail to put a smile on my face.


Meant to comment on this one too.

The Road is an amazing book that I probably won’t ever read again because it was sooooooo bleak. Wonderful but bleak. Even for McCarthy, who I generally really like.

Did you see The Counselor? I liked it, but no one else I know did.


He’s reclusive, but it’s far and away Pynchon for me of living authors. I’ve read everything he’s done, and from the smallest novella to the most epic tome, every line of his work is brilliant and tragic and insightful and meaningful. Not a god damn thing wasted, or meaningless, or less than gorgeous. Reading the work of someone like that really makes it clear that there are beings who operate on a level that is simply…beyond. He’d make my top 5 authors of all time, never mind living.

Delillo is another. White Noise was brilliant, and I’m about to start Cosmopolis. MAO II was terribly prescient in it’s portrayal of a future haunted by the spectre of terrorism (illegitimate as many of those fears are, here in the states).

Not really a fiction writer, but I find myself constantly coming back to the work of Noam Chomsky as seminal, and hungrily absorb whatever modern commentary he deems fit to throw to the masses. Many of my social and political inclinations were sharpened and specified through the study of his work (less interested in his linguistic work).


OH, and for scifi fans, it’s gotta be Sam “Chip” Delaney. He’s one of my holy trinity of scifi writers (at the top is Zelazny, and just below Delaney is Herbert). If you’re a fan of Gaiman, you should really check out Delaney. He’s a heavy influence (though not as heavy as Zelazny).


In the Woods in on offer for Kindle for the Evil Empire…I mean Amazon, right at the moment.


I really liked The Counselor. The first and last scenes are pretty terrible but everything in between is really interesting. It’s more a collection of conversations than a conventionally told story; the scene where Ruben Blades explains how the Counselor’s choices have sealed his fate and the one where Bruno Ganz describes the paths diamonds take are my favorites. No one writes existential like McCarthy!


I was asked here a while ago to name my top 5 favourite books and I found it impossible to narrow my choices down to so few (sorry @RonnieM I made a list and everything though :slight_smile:) I thought this would be easier to answer but it really isn’t.

Me too. Constant reader, ever since I saw the cover for Christine and thought the car on the cover looked cool and then saw it was haunted too. Fair play to my Mammy for letting me buy it with my birthday book token (I was 8). I’ve read everything he’s ever written. So instead of King I’ll recommend Joe Hill. Horns is a beautiful, dark, twisted love story and NOS4A2’s Vic McQueen is one of the best female characters I’ve read. His short stories are ace too, especially Pop Art and By the Silver Water of Lake Champlain. I’ve heard a few say that his forthcoming The Fireman is equal in scope to The Stand.

Nice to see a mention of the awesome Tana French; an extraordinary writer. Great ear for dialogue and there’s a sense of something ‘other’ like King with her books too; a slight hint of the supernatural. Linwood Barclay is another crime writer I like and his latest, first of a trilogy, Broken Promise, has a certain hint of strange too. Dennis Lehane has yet to disappoint and you should all listen to Stephen King’s recent praise of the Robert Galbraith crime novels. I adore the relationship between the 2 main characters. Start with The Cuckoo’s Calling. Oh, and Kate Atkinson is fantastic, can’t recommend Life After Life enough and her Jackson Brodie crime series is great in the way everything is gradually interconnected.

I love Neil Gaiman but Robert Jackson Bennett is someone who doesn’t get enough recognition. American Elsewhere and The Troupe are 2 of my favourite books ever.

Pat Rothfuss has me so impatient to read the conclusion of The Kingkiller Chronicle, even more so than Game of Thrones, and he writes the prettiest prose.

Peter Carey deserves all the praise he gets; likewise Larry McMurtry and Hilary Mantel. And Nick Harkaway for Angelmaker and Tigerman especially. If you feel like some Aussie Japanese-inspired steampunk try Jay Kristoff"s Lotus War trilogy. His recent sci-fi book Illuminae co-written with Amie Kaufman is great fun and has one of the most uniquely depicted, poignant death-by-airlock scenes I’ve read.

Donna Tartt is amazing and so is Scarlett Thomas (The End of Mr Y) and if Suzanna Clarke only ever writes Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell & The Ladies of Grace Adieu she is still a genius. Really immersive world.

For epic world-building and much sobbing at the end: Philip Reeve’s Mortal Engines quartet. I’m a huge Frances Hardinge fan and she has an imagination to rival Neil Gaiman: Cuckoo Song, A Face Like Glass and The Lie Tree.

Terrific writer. And Michael Chabon is great. One to watch, I think, is Emily St. John Mandel: Station Eleven was one of my favourite reads last year.

Lastly, Patrick Ness (currently writing the new Doctor Who spinoff). The Crane Wife is just exquisite and if any of you have read his Chaos Walking trilogy you’ll know why I’ll never quite forgive him. If you read his A Monster Calls be sure to get the edition illustrated by Jim Kay. Beautiful stuff.

Really wish there was more Discworld to come

Favourite classic writer: now I have to choose between Bradbury, Tolkien, Tolstoy, Dickens, Austen, Brontës, Steinbeck, Dumas…? no clue, so instead I’ll say everyone should read Middlemarch and Moby Dick.

And this is why I tend not to answer questions like this cos I don’t know quite when to stop. Just don’t ask me my 3 favourite films :wink:


I think pretty much every author in my bookcase is dead. If 20th century counts as contemporary, then it’s James Joyce. Dubliners and Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man are my favorites; Ulysses is enjoyable if I’m in the right mood, but I can’t call it a “great book”, it’s just too far out as an experiment for me to say it really succeeds. That is even more true for Finnegans Wake.

Classical author, Sophocles. Oedipus Rex is probably the best thing ever written.

edit: wait no, best thing ever written is Zhuangzi. I am not sure the author fits the category of classical author.


Well I was thinking more of authors who could potentially have a new book out in the next few years, but if people want to talk about their favorites in general that’s ok with me.


Seconded. I read that a couple of months ago. It’s a great book.


[quote=“Bernadette, post:13, topic:5461”]
So instead of King I’ll recommend Joe Hill.
[/quote]Good choice, the son is definitely doing a good job of following in his father’s footsteps. And thanks for the heads-up on Linwood Barclay and Robert Jackson Bennett – they’ve flown under my radar, but I’ll definitely look them up.


I really love Lonesome Dove and All of My Friends Are Going to be Strangers.

I liked End of Mr. Y. It did that magic/realism thing very well. Did you read the last two books she wrote and if so, how were they?

I am the only dork in the world who found JS&MR sort of boring.

I enjoyed this too. I thought the prose outstripped the narrative, but the prose was fantastic.


We should do this as a poll, don’t you think?



Murakami is my favorite author who I don’t understand. 1Q84 is a brilliant book, as is The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle.