Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday: Most-Read Authors

This week's theme from The Broke and the Bookish is "Top Ten Authors I've Read The Most Books From."  I've decided to list only authors I've read primarily as an adult, as otherwise my list would be entirely overrun by the likes of Ann M. Martin, Beverly Cleary, Franklin W. Dixon, Lois Gladys Leppard, and Marguerite Henry.

I'm listing these in alphabetical order by last name because for some of them I don't have an exact count on how many of their books I've read.

Jane Austen

I've read her six major novels, plus some of her juvenilia, Lady Susan and what there is of The Watsons and Sanditon.  My favorites are Persuasion, Pride and Prejudice, and Northanger Abbey.  I like Austen for her caustic wit, shrewd observations of human nature, and fully realized characters.

Raymond Chandler

Chandler is my absolute favorite author, so it's no surprise I've read all 7 1/2 of his novels (the 1/2 is cuz he never completed Poodle Springs, but Robert B. Parker did an entertaining job finishing it) and many of his short stories and essays.  I don't exactly have a favorite of his books, though I'm very fond of The Big Sleep, The Lady in the Lake, and Farewell, My Lovely.  I like Chandler for his surprising descriptions, acerbic dialog, and brisk pacing.

A. Conan Doyle

Of course by now you know I'm a devoted Sherlockian.  I read the entire canon in 12 months not long ago, but I'd read nearly all of it many times before.  I've also read The White Company, which is the only non-Holmes book of Doyle's I've read so far.  My favorite Holmes adventure is The Hound of the Baskervilles, and I also dearly love "The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle" and "The Adventure of the Speckled Band" and many of the other short stories.  I like Doyle for creating the coolest detective and chronicler ever and for his inscrutable but logical plots.

Ernest Hemingway

I almost didn't put Hemingway on here, but then I counted up how many of his books I've read and realized that I've read 6 1/2 of his books (Garden of Eden is unfinished) and all of his short stories, plus a good many of his essays and articles, so he belongs firmly on this list.  My favorites of his are The Sun Also Rises and A Moveable Feast, and I'm quite fond of his Nick Adams stories too.  I like Hemingway for his terseness, his attention to detail, and his ability to make me understand characters who are very different from me.

Jan Karon

Reading Karon's books about Mitford is a little like making a visit home for me.  Why?  Because she set Mitford in the mountains of North Carolina and patterned parts of it after the town of Blowing Rock.  My family moved to NC's foothills when I was 12, and Blowing Rock quickly became one of our favorite places to visit, so much so that when Cowboy and I got married, we honeymooned there.  I haven't read the last few of her books, though I own all of them and look forward to beginning the series over again one of these days.  I've read the first six or seven, and am very fond of them.  I like Karon for her warm humor, quirky characters, and heartwarming storytelling.  

Laurie R. King

I've read all of King's novels of suspense featuring Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes (my favorite is The Beekeeper's Apprentice), all of her Kate Martinelli mysteries (my favorite is To Play the Fool), several of her stand-alone novels (my favorite is Keeping Watch), and the first of her Stuyvesant & Grey books.  In fact, there are only 2 of her published novels I haven't read yet, and I'm kind of holding off on them so I have something to look forward to, other than her upcoming releases.  I like King for her strong female characters, exciting mysteries, and especially for her excellent characterization of Sherlock Holmes.

L. M. Montgomery

I've read all 8 of her Anne of Green Gables books numerous times, her Emily of New Moon series, and I'm currently reading a bunch of her short stories.  My favorites are Anne of Green Gables and Anne of Windy Poplars.  I like Montgomery for her happy endings, fanciful characters, and beautiful descriptions.

Patrick O'Brian

I have read all 20 of Patrick O'Brian's novels about Jack Aubrey and Stephen Maturin's adventures in the Royal Navy during the Napoleonic Wars.  I also have his unfinished 21st book in the series, but I'm kind of saving it for when I reread the whole series.  I like O'Brian for the way he immerses me in a world I would otherwise never visit, and for the complex and endearing characters he created.

J.K. Rowling

I have, of course, read all the Harry Potter books.  And the book of stories by Beedle the Bard.  My favorite is Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, hands-down.  I like Rowling for her deft wordplay, humorous dialog, and ability to communicate hard truths simply and kindly.

Rex Stout

I'm not even sure how many I have read of Stout's mysteries featuring Nero Wolfe and Archie Goodwin.  I know I've read 16 of the books I own, plus probably 6 or 8 more from the library over the years.  I've also read a couple of his non-Nero Wolfe mysteries, which were nice, but it's the characters of Archie and Nero that keep me coming back for more.  I like Stout for his snappy dialog, twisty mysteries, and memorable characters.


  1. Arthur Conan Doyle. *sighs happily* Just . . . awesomeness. Have you ever read his novel "The Valley of Fear," by the way? It's not one of his best, I don't think, but I read it as a young teenager and for some reason it became the story that really sparked my desire to someday write a novel of my own. I don't think I'd necessarily re-read it over and over again, but at the same time, I know I'll never forget it :-)

    1. Jessica, yes, I've read all the original Holmes novels and stories (aka "the canon"), and I'm not all that fond of The Valley of Fear. However, it's cool that it's the story that made you decide to be a writer yourself!

    2. No, it's definitely kinda gross and creepy and I don't think I'd re-read it . . . but at the same time, it Did Something to me :) I think it was Jack and Ettie's romance . . . it was just so exciting. And thrilling. And CUTE.

    3. Yeah, it's on the higher end of the creepy scale for Holmes stories. Jack and Ettie did have an intriguing relationship, though.

  2. I missed JK Rowling and Raymond Chandler! As I look at other people's lists this week I'm surprised at how many I didn't think of...

    1. Erika, that happened to me as well. I was like, "Oh, of course -- I should have Shakespeare on my list!" I nearly had Jasper Fforde on it, then realized I'd read more by Hemingway than by Fforde.

  3. Lol.... I was relying on Goodreads to tell me how many books I'd read from each author and obviously I haven't recorded there that I read the Hardy Boys books or else that would have been basically on the top of my list.
    Great list though! I love so many of those authors!

    1. Lois, I can see that's one of the advantages of using Goodreads, huh? I had to go look at my bookshelves and my list of book reviews here, and kind of figure it out that way.

  4. I have read some books by Ernest Hemingway an I like them a lot.

    1. Thanks, Lena! I quite like Hemingway's writing, though the stories he tells I don't like so much as the way he writes, if that makes sense.

  5. Raymond Chandler is an author I've never read and your description has certainly made me feel sorry about it! I will need to put him more firmly on my to read list. Also I wholeheartedly support your love of Laurie R. King. I've just read the first of her Mary Russell series and fully intend to get to the rest of them soon. I liked her portrayal of Sherlock as well as creating a pupil/companion for him who is exactly right. Also glad to see some more love for Patrick O'Brian! I almost wish I hadn't read all of his Aubrey/Maturin series because they were so much fun to experience for the first time!

    1. Stephanie, if you like hardboiled mysteries, absolutely try Chandler. He is amazing!

      Isn't The Beekeeper's Apprentice wonderful? It's one of the few Holmes pastiches I've read where I absolutely love the characterization of Holmes -- doesn't he ring so true?

      And yes, I hear you on the Aubrey/Maturin books. I read them all about 12 years ago, and I'm hoping to revisit them soon -- I think it's been long enough since I read them that much of them will feel fresh again.

  6. Haha "overrun with Ann M. Martin and Lois Gladys Leppard..." I feel ya there;)

    I should probably try the Harry Potter books at some point.

    1. Olivia, yes, I am an inveterate fan of series because I just want more and more adventures with my fictional friends. I almost did TWO lists, one of most-read authors from childhood, one from adulthood.

      I find the Harry Potter books highly amusing, thought-provoking, and fun. But I don't grab people by the shoulders and say, "You simply MUST read these!" If you do decide to try them, don't stop after the first one and think, "Well, that was just okay," the way I did when I first read it. They improve. The first book has to spend so very much time world-building that it doesn't have a lot of time for character development or plot. They improve! When I read book two, I thought, "Oh, this is actually rather good." And by the end of the third, I was completely hooked.


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