Who is your favorite author, and what sets him or her apart?Who is your favorite author, and what sets him or her apart?

Expert Answers
Lori Steinbach eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I enjoy nearly everything I read for one reason or another (style, structure,  storyline), so I don[t really have a favorite author.  Instead, I have favorite books.  Looking at them, here's what I like and appreciate in an author:

1.  A narrator who is appealing and insightful (perhaps even accidentally), as in Leif Enger's Peace Like a River, Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird, or Blue Hole Back Home by Joy Jordan-Lake.

2. A narrative that causes me to reflect upon my own moral belief system, such as Austen's Pride and Prejudice or Bronte's Jane Eyre.

3.  Characters who are inspiring, perhaps because of their flaws (like John Proctor in Miller's The Crucible) or because they move me (as does Cyrano in Rostand's Cyrano DeBergerac).

Reading one author for any length of time just doesn't appeal to me; instead, reading great work by a variety of authors is inspiring and enjoyable.

clairewait eNotes educator| Certified Educator

It is extremely difficult to pick out one favorite, but I would say that David James Duncan would be pretty high up on any list I came up with.  His novels and short stories are really powerful in my mind.  If you look at "The Brothers K," it is a funny, heartbreaking, and eye-opening story about a family that includes things that I think are real and remind me so much of the dynamics within my own family and I think Duncan has an uncanny ability to write in such a way that you feel those emotions and the events in a way that most authors fail to do.

I also have to admit really enjoying Tolkien's works from the Symmarillion to the Lord of the Rings and the Lost Tales, pretty much all of it.  Who else produced an entire world with so much detail and so much poetry?

I too cannot pick a favorite author, but The Brothers K is one of my favorite books.

I almost never hear anyone outside of the northwest talk about it (I grew up in WA state, but am currently displaced all the way in NC).

accessteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

What a big question! I do not think that the two questions are necessarily related - one can like an author but not because they are very different or distinct from other authors. I guess for me one author who I keep on coming back to again and again is Henry James, who manages to write tightly-plotted novels that give us unprecedented psychological access to his characters. Novels such as Portrait of a Lady or Wings of a Dove are absolute classics from this aspect. If you want to try something a little bit shorter, try The Turn of the Screw or The Aspern Papers, which are both masterful examples of the unreliable narrator in play. What he offers that is different is an amazing European world which is populated by naive American characters who become corrupted by European decadence or the Europeans that they meet.

Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I have always been partial to Salman Rushdie. I just think that he develops and discusses themes that I feel are extremely important to the things that I find fascinating. For example, the definition of nation or identity in a collective consciousness is something that he plays with in many of his novels and is one idea explored at great lengths in his work. He has also been one of the most authoritative voices in writing about the complexity of Islam, and the divergent paths religious worship can take. He is extremely profound on this point. His development of characters into ambiguous paradigms of judgment where one has to assess different criteria for judging them is something that I find fascinating and extremely intricate. Finally, I would say that his ability to weave narratives within and outside the construct of time helps to make him a writer who can understand transcendence as well as contingency, and the value of both concepts.

kapokkid eNotes educator| Certified Educator

It is extremely difficult to pick out one favorite, but I would say that David James Duncan would be pretty high up on any list I came up with.  His novels and short stories are really powerful in my mind.  If you look at "The Brothers K," it is a funny, heartbreaking, and eye-opening story about a family that includes things that I think are real and remind me so much of the dynamics within my own family and I think Duncan has an uncanny ability to write in such a way that you feel those emotions and the events in a way that most authors fail to do.

I also have to admit really enjoying Tolkien's works from the Symmarillion to the Lord of the Rings and the Lost Tales, pretty much all of it.  Who else produced an entire world with so much detail and so much poetry?

kmcappello eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I get this question a lot, and answering it is always a little daunting.  How do I choose?!  I like bullgatortail's strategy of breaking it down by type of writing, so I'll try that:

Favorite playwright: Shakespeare.  His work is still original, arresting, and hilarious, and it is sheer joy to read aloud.

Favorite poets: Jane Kenyon, Lynn Emmanuel, Sharon Olds, Mary Oliver. As a poet myself, I look to these women for inspiration.  They use language in strong new ways while still remaining accessible.

Favorite novelist: Margaret Atwood.  Her novels are gorgeous and intoxicating.  They read like guilty pleasure books yet still manage to generate interesting questions.

shaketeach eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I respect and love many writers for various reasons but my all time favorite has to be, hands down, William Shakespeare. 

It doesn't matter how many times I see a play or re-read one, I always discover something I'd never seen or heard before.  His plays are like an onion.  Peel back a layer and there is another layer and so on.

His universality speaks for itself.  There is not a human condition that he doesn't reveal.  There is not a major literary theme he doesn't explore.  His characters are rich, diverse, and very human.

His use of lanaguage is masterful.  He manages to give each character an individual voice and skillfully mixes verse and prose as the situation requires.

If I could have only one book on a desert island, it would have to be The Complete Works of William Shakespeare.    

linda-allen eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I have favorite authors, not just one. My all-time favorite would have to be Jean Plaidy/Victoria Holt/Philippa Carr (she wrote under all three names). She deserves the credit for turning me into a reader, first with her Victoria Holt mysteries, then with her Jean Plaidy historical fiction, and then with her Philippa Carr romance novels. I have read every book she wrote.

Currently, I have three favorite authors: Alison Weir, whose nonfiction reads like fiction. I was delighted when she started using her knowledge of Tudor England to write historical fiction. James Rollins, whose action/adventure books are great entertaiment. And Charlaine Harris, just because (everybody needs a trashy romance now and then).

amy-lepore eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I love Shakespeare's language and the way he is able to connect with all sorts of people from all walks of life.  As far as living authors, I enjoy Philipa Gregory for her historical romance novels featuring characters from the Tudor dynasty and bits of true history mixed in with imagined details.

I also enjoy Diana Gabaldon's time travel books quite a lot.  They are set in different eras of history, and the research she conducts to be sure her history is correct along with the reality of the characters she creates is intriguing.

bullgatortail eNotes educator| Certified Educator

My favorite playwright is William Shakespeare, and my favorite poet is E. E. Cummings. Edgar Allan Poe is absolutely my favorite short story writer, and his poetry is also superb. Ernest Hemingway ranks very high because of both his novels and terrific short stories. Jerzy Kosinski is also another favorite; I've read all of his novels. Honorable mention goes to William Faulkner, John Steinbeck and Joseph Heller.

kiwi eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I have several writers whose work I return to for teaching and for pleasure. Steinbeck and Hemingway are never out of my 'current reading' book pile as both of them have a tightness of expression and a wealth of understated emotion. Daphne du Maurier is there too - particularly Rebecca due to the fascinatingly evil Mrs Danvers.

My light reading is Jodi Picoult. Some may sneer and dismiss as popular fiction but the situations and characterisation have me in tears EVERY time.

dastice eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I say Steinbeck as well.  His writing is something I experience with my entire body.  When reading Of Mice and Men, for example, I had what felt like a rock in my stomach for the entire book.

William Faulkner and Chuck Palahnuik also cause that uncomfortable feeling for me.

Alexandre Dumas is another favorite.  I feel like I'm in a thrilling fantasy world when I read his novels.

mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

There is something about the novels and poems of Thomas Hardy that appeal to the melancholy temperament in some of us....something magical about his narratives...the most wonderfully constructed sentences in such poignant tales.  He transports his readers into his Age and his imagined world. Our hearts extend into the pages of Tess d'Ubervilles and share her plight under the Imminent.

susan3smith eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I'm from the South, and I think no one captures the crazy and paradoxical nature of this region better than William Faulkner.  His complex characters ARE disturbing but also humorous as told with Faulkner's dry wit.  Lately, though, I really like Cormac McCarthy. I am enjoying tracing his evolving style from the poetic All the Pretty Horses to the terse No Country for Old Men.

M.P. Ossa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

My favorite writer is Oscar Wilde. I am not sure why. but he explains it best when he says that he has put his talent into his works, but his genius into his life. That genius eventually operated against him, but nevertheless I can tell you that I am very obsessed with everything Wilde.

As far as non-fiction writers, I am an Antonia Fraser fanatic.

ktmagalia eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I'd have to say Mark Twain.  I never tire of his wit and way of looking at the world.  I very often find myself alluding to one of his characters, or stories, and sometimes falling back on one of his many famous aphorisms. I never tire of reading his words or discussing his ideas.

lynn30k eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Probably Steinbeck. He just seems to speak to the experiences of everyday people in a way that continues to be true, and creates such memorable characters.

udonbutterfly | Student

My favorite author is Cassandra Clare. Clare is known for the Mortal instrument and Clock Work series which are truly amazing and they all keep me on edge. The plot in every single one her books are so well thought out and planned. Never once have I felt like Clare put something in her books just to make sense of something or have I felt like she rushed through a book like I feel with most authors who have prolonged series. Clare's book are seriously planned master pieces that I love.

Also on Clare's website she has a column dedicated to tips and tricks to help out other aspiring writers and that makes me love her even more.

tehillim | Student

Piers Anthony is my favorite sci-fi writer. He engulfs a reader with his visionary approach to different dimensions and realities. He reminds me of a modern. C.S. Lewis. who was a phenomenal writer.

czski | Student

While Neil Simon is my favorite playwright, I am drawn tot he works of Francine Rivers in the field of historical fiction. Her ability to weave creative supposition around actual events is a great draw. She also has chosen unique time periods and settings for her novels.

amreed911 | Student

Lee Child!  I have never read a better suspense/thriller writer.  The detail in which Lee describes things makes you feel like you are standing right next to the main character!  Some writers I have found (in fiction writing) do not really research locations.  But Mr. Child has extensive knowledge about the physical locations where his charters are; making his writing feel much more real and possible!  I recommend everyone try reading at least one of his books (his Jack Reacher Novels).

hansu | Student
In reply to #21: an author whose books are understandable and intresting not boring.thats my opinion.
centrist | Student

A favourite author is an author whose books one reads and rereads for pleasure And with every re-reading, new delights, insights, ideas, witticisms are revealed. It is like meeting an good friend whom you don't get a chance to meet often but when you do, you realize once again why you became friends in the first place. I get this feeling when I read Jane Austen. Her work is so delicate and intricate and yet so accessible. Her sensibility crosses temporal and geographical barriers easily. The themes she engages with are universal and present in every culture. Whenever I re-read one of her novels, I encounter new nuggets of ironical observations tucked among very familiar plots and sentences. her novels are a gift that keep on giving :)

shambler92 | Student

Oh man. Right now I have to say Paul Auster. Being a writer myself, though a young one, I love reading "writers writer's" novels. His characters are very much alike from one novel to the next (lonely guy with a lonely life), but, like Haruki Murakami's characters, they are totally different at the same time, by finding themselves in different situations.

Language-wise:Of all the writers I've read I think he's the only one writer who's really capable in his novels of eliminating the barrier of language that exists between the reader and the story being read. His prose is clean and simple, yet essential at the same time; it's an amazing and weird experience reading him, because your're not reading at all, you don't think the words or the paragraphs, just the story in-itself. Many times I have found myself hating Auster for being so damn flawless and perfect, I've thrown his books across the room while reading them, and have dashed to pick them back again, not being able to stop.

cyndylou | Student

There are several writers whom I admire and enjoy greatly. First, James Joyce grasped the essence of what life is all about, bringing in Ulysses especially, but also Dubliners, his own incredible knowledge of languages, music, art, and literature to the life of ordinary people on an ordinary day in what now seems more than an ordinary city, Dublin. I feel sorry that he moved beyond the ken of most of us when he virtually invented his own language for Finnegan's Wake. Second, Heinrich Boll created a masterwork in Billiards at Half Past Nine, where he conjured up the story of a well-meaning man caught in the onset of Nazi totalitarianism and how life forced him to confront his deepest beliefs--without ever mentioning the word Nazi in his text. Boll effortlessly moves from the mundane to the ethereal as he permits his amazing tale to develop -- we finally see why his hero has opted for a quiet, routine, uneventful life. I do not mean to ignore many well-recognized figures from Shakespeare to Mark Twain, but these are two who made a real difference to me. The answer to this question also depends on your age and your situation--I well recall my brother's love for Joseph Heller's Catch-22 when in the service for its strident yet hysterical anti-authority theme.

bthurst7 | Student

My favorite author is Patricia Cornwell. Patricia's books are filled with mystery, suspense, forensics, and often spine tingling details. The main character, Kay Scarpetta, is a Chief Medical Examiner. Her husband is FBI, her niece is a brilliant computer aficionado, and she has ties with the local police in Detective Pete Marino. Patricia Cornwell walks the fine line of bringing today's headlines to reality while weaving in believable fantasy. Her plots lead the reader to an obsession to see the end result. The body of works that she produces are so accurate to even the most minute detail. Patricia Cornwell not only writes very specifically about forensic science in her works, she is the founder of the Virginia Institute of Forensic Science and Medicine. She has received numerous rewards for her authenticity and attention to accurate details. Patricia's books draw the reader in as they experience the brutality of the victims and Kay Scarpetta's quest to right the wrongs they are subjected to. Although her books border on the macabre, I enjoy the challenge of stimulating reading while all the while trying to solve the crime. Needless to say, I am constantly anticipating her next book and the turmoil that her characters will experience.

dollyy | Student

Sydney seldon ...