I’m very particular about who I decide is a “favorite author,” and my criteria have changed over time. I’d much rather tell you my favorite books, but that’s not the prompt – although there is considerable overlap, of course. I just don’t necessarily think I’ll like every single thing an author writes, and that’s OK. Or, like, what if they’re a good writer, and I like their book(s), but they’re a terrible person? (I enjoyed Ender’s Game, but even so, I wouldn’t put Orson Scott Card anywhere on my “Top Ten Favorite” anything.)
So it took me awhile to come up with this list, and I’m still not entirely satisfied with it. I mean, what about Stephen King? I loved Dark Tower, but not only have I not read anything else by him, I never will! So I went with authors who wrote formative books for me as a reader, or my favorite books, or whose books I usually like – it’s not all the same, you know?
- J.K. Rowling OK, OK. I’m really only talking about her Harry Potter stuff here, because I’ve never read (and don’t plan to read) The Cuckoo’s Calling or The Casual Vacancy, but, you know, I really really love Harry Potter and it was such a huge part of my childhood and my development as a reader (and as a person) that I can’t leave J.K. Rowling off of this list.
- Philip Pullman See? I told you there would be overlap with my favorite books. Of course I put him on this list because of His Dark Materials -and the related books, especially Once Upon a Time in the North. Unlike J.K. Rowling, I’ve read some of his other stuff, like Clockwork, which is great, and The Tin Princess, although that’s odd for me because it’s the fourth Sally Lockhart book, but I haven’t read the others. (I never start in the middle of a series!)
- Holly Black I haven’t read every single thing she’s written, and while some of it doesn’t interest me (Curse Workers?) and some of it didn’t do it for me (Valiant, oops), I loved Tithe when I was a teenager and I loved Doll Bones as an adult, and I can’t wait to read The Darkest Part of the Forest. I credit Holly Black with introducing me to urban fantasy, which was, like, totally mind blowing to me at the time.
- Neil Gaiman Again, I haven’t read everything, but what I’ve read, I’ve really liked, for the most part. (I did not particularly care for American Gods.) Good Omens? I loved it, and I’ve read it a bunch of times. Fortunately, The Milk? I read this no less than ten times out loud to my students (five grades, two classes per grade, once for myself, twice for book club) and it never got any less funny. Anansi Boys? I haven’t read it in ages, but I remember that I really liked it.
- David Almond I remember there was a time when I read any David Almond books that I could get my hands on. There weren’t many then; my local library had Skellig,Kit’s Wildnerness, and my favorite, Heaven Eyes. Something about them, especially Heaven Eyes, really spoke to me. I remember reading about Erin and January drinking “pilfered sherry,” and knowing, somehow, that this book was going to matter to me.
- Jacqueline Wilson Unlike the other authors on this list, I didn’t discover Jacqueline Wilson until adulthood, although she writes books for children. I picked up her The Lottie Project after making a display of the original, ugly old cover and the new and improved cover to make a point about not judging books by their covers. Then I read Hetty Feather because I liked the cover of Sapphire Battersea (never read out of order!) and omg it was so good. I went on to tear through a whole bunch of her stuff – Lily Alone, Midnight, Secrets, and a few others – and I was just as excited as my students when we got our library copy of Opal Plumstead.
- CLAMP Hey, mangaka are still authors! CLAMP wrote the first ever manga I read, Wish, and my favorite ever manga, TSUBASA: RESERvoir CHRoNiCLE, and many, many other manga that I’ve loved and made part of my personal mythology: CardCaptor Sakura, Tokyo Babylon, X. They’re also probably responsible for my weird thing about characters who have something wrong with their eyes. (“It’s all fun and games until somebody loses an eye, and then it’s a pairing!”)
Kazuya Minekura Another mangaka for this list. I’m not as familiar with her work, and I haven’t read everything like I have with CLAMP, but not only do I really love Saiyuki, I have a special place for it in my heart because I have so many fond memories of fangirling about it with so many of my friends. Her Wild Adapter was something else, too, and the full color Stigma that I found for ¥105 remains one of my best Book•Off finds ever.
- Brian Jacques Except for maybe American Girl or Goosebumps, Brian Jacques’s Redwallwas the first series that I read everything – and I mean everything. I read the whole series in publication order, and then again in chronological order. My bff Mousey became “Mousey” (and eventually, “Mousey”) because of this series. I made all of my first online friends through Redwallforums. I tried to read Castaways of the Flying Duchman, but I just couldn’t do it for some reason. Still, I owe Brian Jacques so much for my reading life that he deserves a spot on this list.
- J.R.R. Tolkien I guess you probably saw this coming? I did mention a lot of overlap with my favorite books. I’ve been reading Tolkien for over ten years, and you know what? it never gets less good. Sometimes, I reread certain things and cringe, but no. The Lord of the Rings is still a masterpiece, and I recently (last year) read The Silmarillion for the first time and guess what? it was great, too! Tolkien was a formative reading experience for me, and a community touchstone for nerds.