Favorite Authors, by the Numbers

What makes a favorite author? There are dozens of authors that I consider favorites, but when I think about it, I realize I’ve only read one or two of their books. This week’s Top Ten Tuesday topic challenges readers to list their favorite authors based on the numbers. I scrolled through my “Read” shelf on Goodreads and made a list of the most frequently recurring writers. (I may have cheated a little bit and only counted books I read in the last five years; there was a lot of Dan Brown, Jodi Picoult, and Chuck Palahnuik in my teens!)

Favorite Authors, by the Number

1. J.K. Rowling. Surprising no one, J.K. Rowling is the author by whom I’ve read the most books. I’ve read all ten of her novels, plus The Tales of Beadle the Bard. Always and forever, J.K.

[The Harry Potter series | The Casual Vacancy | The Cuckoo’s Calling | The Silkworm]

2. Haruki Murakami. A master of the surreal, Murakami is one of my favorite authors to turn to when I need a comfort read. With six of his novels under my belt, I’m slowly making my way through his prolific catalog!

[Norwegian Wood; Kafka on the Shore | The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle | A Wild Sheep Chase | Colorless Tsukuru and His Years of Pilgrimage | South of the Border, West of the Sun]

3. Kurt Vonnegut. I was definitely that insufferable college student who was obsessed with Vonnegut’s existential dark humor.

[Slaughterhouse-Five | Cat’s Cradle | Galapagos | Hocus Pocus]

4. Karen Russell. My literary spirit animal. I can’t resist her sparkling sentences and quirky but thought-provoking brand of magical realism.

[Swamplandia! St. Lucy’s Home for Girls Raised by Wolves | Vampires in the Lemon Grove | Sleep Donation]

5. Joan Didion. Didion is the ultimate literary cool girl — glamorous but sad, and intimidatingly talented. I obviously want to know everything about her.

[Slouching Towards Bethlehem | Blue Nights | The Year of Magical Thinking | Play It As It Lays]

6. Margaret Atwood. If Didion is the cool girl, Atwood is the queen. The Handmaid’s Tale is one of my very favorite books, and I desperately need to read more of Atwood’s work! (I should probably start with the two unread novels I already have on my shelf.)

[The Handmaid’s Tale | Alias Grace | Stone Mattress]

7. F. Scott Fitzgerald. I am endlessly fascinated by Fitzgerald, but also increasingly disappointed that his other books don’t reach Gatsby‘s level of genius. (However, A Diamond as Big as the Ritz is one of my all-time favorite short stories.)

[The Great Gatsby | Babylon Revisited and other Stories | The Beautiful and Damned]

[Also see Careless People by Sarah Churchwell and So We Read On by Maureen Corrigan]

8. Meg Wolitzer. She just writes about women and creativity and double standards and friendship so darn well. The Wife is one of the books I find myself recommending the most often.

[The Wife | The Interestings | Belzhar]

9. Mary Roach. There’s a reason Mary Roach is the only non-fiction writer (who doesn’t write memoirs) on this list. She has a knack for making any topic absolutely fascinating, and there’s no one I trust more to both teach me cool/weird/gross things AND crack me up.

[Bonk | Stiff | Packing for Mars]

10. David Mitchell. Cloud Atlas blew my mind, and I’ve loved slowly delving into Mitchell’s catalog; each of the novels I’ve read have been very different, but it’s fun to spot characters who appear in his other books.

[Cloud Atlas | The Bone Clocks | Black Swan Green*]

By which authors have you read the most books?

*I actually got sidetracked from this book after BEA last year and still haven’t finished it. But I liked what I did read!

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12 thoughts on “Favorite Authors, by the Numbers

  1. What a great list! And – I have the same issue about authors I consider favorites (esp recently)…Wolitzer being one of them even though I’ve only read The Interestings and The Wife! I still need to give Atwood a try…I’m thinking Handmaid’s Tale (actually, that’s what Shannon told me to start with!). And – I agree about Fitzgerald…got on a little kick after reading Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald and tried This Side of Paradise and could barely get through it.

  2. My big three are Ursula K. Le Guin (8), Guy Gavriel Kay (7), and Hermann Hesse (6). Kay and Le Guin are as good as gets in fantasy literature. Hesse, as well as Le Guin, well their works have influenced me greatly over my lifetime. The same could be said for Albert Camus, Margaret Atwood, Octavia E. Butler, and Jack London.

    In the mystery genre, I have enjoyed the works of Tana French (5), Jane Casey (4), and Craig Johnson (4). And I have read four books from each of these terrific science fiction authors: Roger Zelazny, Gene Wolfe, Robert Silverberg, and Dan Simmons.

    And a shout out to Willy Vlautin, I’ve read each of his four short novels.

  3. Haha, I love your comment about Didion and Atwood. I just started Packing for Mars two days ago and am already loving it. Just quickly thinking about my bookshelf, I think Paul Auster and Isabel Allende are my two most-read authors. But there are so many others I’d like to read more of.

  4. There are so many things I relate to here, not the least of which is how many Palahniuk books I’d have had to list had I not restricted myself to my last three years of reading. I also tend to think of some authors as my favorites when I’ve only ever read one(!) book by them. Didion and Vonnegut made my list as well. 🙂

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