You’re all readers. I’m sure you have a list in your head of your favorite books/authors/series. I’d love to hear about them, because it is through recommendations that I find many of the new books and authors I enjoy.
Here are mine, (ALL series because… I do love a series!) in reverse order, from 10th place to 1st, by author. They aren’t all of my favorites – the list is not and could not be comprehensive – and another day I might choose different books, or put them in a different order, but consider this my list for today. Some books are old, some new, some mystery, some historical, some fantasy. Some by authors still living and writing, some by authors long gone, and some authors gone recently, and too shockingly early. The order is a little arbitrary. How can you compare a fantasy series you loved as a kid to a mystery series you love as an adult?
10 – Scott Westerfeld – I don’t read a lot of YA fiction, but I picked up (from a sale table of 2nd hand books in a bank, IIRC) a book titled Uglies, the first of a series, and never looked back. Westerfeld has a way of creating a world we can almost imagine is ours, and yet with such different rules. It’s like a teen nightmare of high school, where ‘ugly’ and ‘pretty’ (also known as unpopular and popular) matter more than anything else.
9 – Ken Follet – I don’t vacation, I staycation, and one of my most memorable was the summer week I spent on my patio reading the first book of Follet’s Kingsbridge historical fiction series, The Pillars of the Earth. He deftly weaves character and plot and history all together in this series, and I find it absolutely absorbing. And now he’s coming out with a prequel… The Evening and the Morning; I’m thrilled!
8 – C. S. Lewis’s Narnia series – I first read The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (and a couple of the other books in the series) as a kid, and it stayed with me. I took a university course in fantasy fiction, and the whole series was on the syllabus, so I read it and… wow. It holds so much of philosophy, adventure, character and action all wrapped into one fabulous series. Loved it and still have fond memories of it.
7 – Joan Hess – both Maggody and Claire Malloy mystery series. I just reread the first in her Arly Hanks Maggody series, Malice in Maggody and loved it all over again. Joan Hess taught me how to be funny (if I ever achieve it – only rarely!) and yet be a solid mystery author. I absolutely adore her writing.
6 – M. C. Beaton – Her fan base is huge, and it is because, in my opinion, her characters are flawed and funny and outrageous, and yet she makes it all work. I first read the Agatha Raisin book The Witch of Wyckhadden and loved it so much I went back and started reading the series from the beginning.
5 – Charlotte MacLeod/Alisa Craig – I read A Pint of Murder in the 80s and… I thought it was awful. Funny now to remember that. I was supremely unimpressed. It was so… simple. So easy. So… yeah, I was SO wrong. Now I know what to call it; brilliant. It took me a while to climb down off my arrogant high horse and understand the understated brilliance of Charlotte Macleod, aka Alisa Craig, the author of the Canada-set Janet and Madoc Rhys series and the Grub-and-Stakers series, as well as both her Peter Shandy and Kelling & Bittersohn series. And now I only wish I could write as well as she did.
4 – Anne Perry – Charlotte & Thomas Pitt mysteries. Starting with The Cater Street Hangman, Perry’s series is a wonderful evocation of the Victorian era, with all of its social dysfunction, and the changing mores and morals is woven wonderfully with the unequal marriage. Charlotte is from the upper crust, and Thomas more working class. Perry, in my opinion, is unparalleled among current historical mystery authors. I have started reading her Monk series and they are equally brilliant.
3 – Agatha Christie – What can I say about Agatha Christie that hasn’t already been said a hundred times? Though the Miss Marples are my favorite, I have read and reread every single one of her books, including her books written as Mary Westmacott. For a deeply interesting inside look at her writing, read her notebooks, edited by John Curran.
2 – Jane Austen – Aunty Jane taught me how to write. Her delicate, expansive character creations with eloquent interior lives revealed with just a line or two of dialogue are – each and every one – exquisite. Read Persuasion, one of her shorter books, to see her at her pinnacle.
1 – Sue Grafton – the Kinsey Millhone/Alphabet Mystery Series, from A is for Alibi onward. I love every single one of these books, and was crushed when Sue Grafton passed. I am collecting them in ebook format to reread, as I have before. Why is that? There is something about Kinsey’s voice that compels me… something that draws me in. And she grows… oh how she grows! The Kinsey in the beginning of the series is much more of a loner, and more brash, harder edged. By the end, Y is for Yesterday, (the series covers a few years in the 80s) Kinsey has become someone more sociable, more loving, more adult. It’s brilliant from start to finish.
So, dear readers… tell me one author/book/series you have loved, and why?