My favorite book of all time is A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole. That book is so smart, witty, and at times wildly inappropriate. Incredible social commentary. I absolutely love it. The opening quote from Jonathan Swift is one of my favorites - "When a true genius appears in the world you may know him by this sign, that the dunces are all in a confederacy against him." Brilliant.
Second favorite novel is Pride & Prejudice. It's such a beautifully told story with a strong female lead. The depiction of society and status and the interweaving of multiple story lines is top notch.
I'll round out my top 3 with The Robe by Llyod C. Douglass. Great religious novel with a lot of brilliant symbolism.
This is a tough call for any teacher of literature! I guess I'll submit a different book/author, too. My favorite is The Great Gatsby, not only because I love to read it, but because I love to TEACH it. In regards to reading it, I love to immerse myself in the recklessness of the Roaring Twenties and the kind of values that I would never, myself, participate in. In regards to teaching it, I love to connect Gatsby to Fitzgerald himself as well as dance the Charleston with my students. Oh, and there's nothing better than the lesson on 1920s fads: flag pole sitting, flapper dresses, etc.!
I'll take a different approach than other posts and submit Mark Twain for favorite author. His mastery of dialects and the way in which he uses them to bring his characters to life amazes me with every rereading of any of his works. I'm also awestruck by the timelessness of his observations about the human condition.
My favourite novel is Daphne Du Maurier's Rebecca. The setting is compelling, the storyline dark and Mrs Danvers is my favourite villain! My favourite author list is huge, but the one whose works I have read the most has to be Shakespeare. I'm re-reading Othello again (a kind of an annual event now) and loving it still.
How to choose?!? I tend to prefer the classic authors and works, so I'll take Dickens (A Tale of Two Cities), Austen (Pride and Prejudice), and Hawthorne (The Scarlet Letter) in addition to Shakespeare (you name it). A more modern work I really enjoy is Enger's Peace Like a River. Based on which book I have purchased, recommended, and given away most, Enger wins.
My favorite author is/was James J. Michener. I was a real fan of Hawaii, The Source, Centennial, Chesapeake, Poland and The Covenant. Michener managed to incorporate sufficient history into his narratives together with an amazing story telling style that kept one occupied for hours--which was a necessity with Michener's books, as they tend to be quite long. Anyone who has a love of history and a good story will instantly fall in love with Michener's books. They are somewhat dated now, but when they were extant, I found them entertaining and enlightening.
I certainly can't pick just one, but my romantic side says Jane Austen -- especially Pride and Prejudice. I love the older language and the time period of the novel, but also the wit and wisdom of the characters. On a more recent note, I really like the novels of Jonathan Safron Foer, especially Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. It was one of the first post-9/11 novels I read, and the endearing 9 year narrator and the unusual mix of text types, fonts, pictures, and page layouts is thought-provoking in regards to what we think of as "text" in a novel. Very interesting.....
Oh my goodness. So many possibilities. Well, one of my own personal enduring classics has to be Henry James and his incredible The Portrait of a Lady. I have read it many times, and normally re-read it about once every year. Each time I notice something new and the struggles of Isabel Archer continue to resonate with me. More recent discoveries include The Road by Cormac McCarthy, a book that stays with you long after your first reading of it.
It's hard to pick just one book or author, and it changes from month to month for me, but I just re-read John Adams and 1776, so in terms of non-fiction, I'd say David McCullough. My favorite fiction writer (and I use the word "favorite" because I think he's a fantastic writer and storyteller. His books are still difficult to get through because they are so dark) is Cormac McCarthy.
About 4 years ago I would have said that, hands down, my favorite author is Oscar Wilde. This is because he deals with the topics that fascinate me such as the snobby and hypocritical Victorian society, the double standards of men and women, aversion to marriage, and because of the subtle messages that Wilde sends about his own personal preferences in life make his reading almost a codex rather than a work of fictional literature.
However, his followers have made a fantastic effort to be similar to Wilde in terms of his aphorisms and epigrammatically laden speech. An example is H.H. Munro (Saki) whose tales of dandies and baronesses can literally make you laugh your head off. His sarcasm is delicious, to say the least, and the snobbery with which he presents his rich, idle, and ornamental characters is simply unique. I have an entire collection of audio books of nothing but Saki, and THAT is what makes my traffic delays in the morning way less stressful.
I'm a lot more into light topics than the previous poster. If I had to pick one favorite author, I would have to say that it is O. Henry. I find his short stories to be very humorous while still retaining some amount of literary importance. This is, to me, a good mix. His stories have something to tell us, but they are also simply fun to read.
My all-time favorite fictional novel is Joseph Heller's anti-war satire, Catch-22. My favorite non-fiction book is the Lee's Lieutenants Civil War series by Douglas Southall Freeman. My favorite author has to be Edgar Allan Poe, whose short stories are unrivaled and whose poetry ranks with the very best as well.