Mary’s Top Ten Favorite Authors

This list came from my close friend of over thirty years. Her top ten authors are as eclectic and enigmatic as she is—two qualities high on the top ten things I love about her.  She can go from yelling at Sox fans for booing at Cub games to reading Jane Austin on the train ride home, from complaining how unrealistic TV detective shows are to reading Harry Potter. Gotta love that! (and the fact that she did my job for me–provided all the research and commentary for her list.)

Mary’s Top Ten Fourteen Favorite Authors

Alison Weir
Another “fiction based on history” writer.  Her book Eleanor of Aquitaine was unbelievably well researched. Because of Weir’s deft writing I was captivated by the story of this woman who was married both to a king of France and then to a King of England.

Dave Bidini:
I read A Hockey Nomad and was surprised how he described hockey as “re-finding him,” which mirrored the way I felt it “re-find” me after some years. I enjoy his self-effacing humor and admire his unique ability to truly learn to treasure other cultures all while looking for evidence of the love of the game in non-big-business settings in remote areas of the world.  I haven’t yet read his book about “hockey erotica” or his book called For Those About To Write, but they are on my list!

[From Karen: Okay I know some people–including Mary–love hockey but hockey erotica? This book sold? My mind won’t even go there… But then this book could not any worse than Peirs Anthony’s awful Pornicopia.]

Martin Andersen Nexo:
I read two of the series of his four “Pelle” books, beginning with Pelle the Conqueror.  It chronicles the beginning of the industrial age and how it affected Denmark and the working class.  This is a book that is so well written that I am amazed it isn’t on the shelves of classic literature.  And although it was written in Danish, the English translation version manages to be so good that the Danish version must be nothing short of a masterpiece

Edith Pargeter
She also writes as Ellis Peters. The Brothers of Gwynedd Quartet is a set of four books telling the story of the rise of four Welsh princes and their rebellion against the English. Wonderful research and wonderful fiction based on history.  As Ellis Peters, she wrote the Brother Cadfael series about a Welsh monk who solves mysteries, and at the same time chronicles another epoch in Welsh history. I’ve savored everything she writes.

J. R. R. Tolkien:
No need for comment (and yet I’m about to anyway–surprise, surprise).  Just the best fantasy ever.

[From Karen: I agree. Lord of the Rings trilogy has been my favorite book of all time for over 30 years.]

J.K. Rowling:
The ability to get young boys to read a female author is no small feat. Great writing and great reading for all genders and ages.

Jane Austen:
Timeless writing.  Appealing in different ways and on different levels of meaning regardless of the age of the reader or the century in which they are reading her books. Her ability to make her characters both personable and identifiable, and her ability to make fun of some of the follies of her age [era she lived in] are unparalleled.

Kurt Vonnegut:
Powerful writing and messages, especially Slaughterhouse Five, Hocus Pocus, and Timequakes.  Love the way he pokes fun at the decline of the novel, and plays with the gimmicks used in the last 30 years to get a novel read/sold.

[From Karen: Slaughterhouse Five  was banned by a Missouri school board this year but The Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library in Indianapolis is giving free copies of the novel to any student from the affected high school. You can donate to the library for this righteous cause (here.) It’s kind of impressive the KV 1969 novel evoked censorship in the next century.]

William Shakespeare :
OK – anything I say here will have been said before, but his plots, his knowledge of human motives, emotions and eloquence are simply unrivaled.

Isaac Asimov:
Because of his wide group of genres in which he wrote knowledgeably. (He wrote a Guide to Shakespeare that I absolutely have to have next to me when I read a Shakespeare play.) Asimov’s curiosity and the thorough research he puts into everything, the sayings, obscure words, and locations is unbelievable.  And he did all this before online searching was available! I just found out that he did a guide to the Bible.  Given the fact that he was an atheist, yet had a sense of empiricism, I am intrigued.  Certainly he would do unbiased research regarding biblical history and archeology, so this is now on my list of things to read.
I admire his ability to view things from a perspective other than his own. While reading one of his science fiction novels, I got the biggest kick out of the fact that he used hydraulic lift technology to address the problem of the portions of the aging female anatomy!  What a fascinating mind an intellect.

11, 12, 13, 14 

Yeah, I know; there were supposed to be 10. But here are few more…  Charles Dickens,  Kinky Friedman, Astrid Lindgren, and P. L. Travers. It’s hard to pick the very top 10, you know?
[From Karen: Yes Mary, I know it’s hard. You are every bit as challenged at winnowing out choices and deciding as I am 🙂
Thank you so much for writing this post.]

Leave a comment


  1. KMW

     /  10/04/2011

    Thanks, Mary, that was enjoyable reading what you like reading.

  2. Linda Petersohn

     /  10/06/2011

    oh boy I wish my favorite author(s) were as thought provoking as Mary’s. Old Favorite- Stephen King. Once ‘Geral’ds Game” came a long he got too weird for me and did not want his wacko mind to provoke my imagination in that manner.
    Current Favorite -Right now I love reading Janet Evanovich, ‘Stephanie Plum’ novels. I love anything that makes me laugh out loud. I think she is on number 17.

    Also like reading an occassional true crime novel by Ann Rule (most definitely introduced to me by Lones. You know the kind with ‘8 pages of schocking photos’

    • My daughter bought me some Ann Rule books once. Not the same as fiction murder mysteries at all. I like pretend. Real life is too horrible or boring. If there is gruesome murder in a novel, I know it’s not real, even if I’m really “into” the story.
      I agree about Evanovich, always a laugh (and I’m embarrassingly hung up on the Ranger-Moreli issue.)


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