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Staff Picks

Our Favorite Authors

This month we asked our staff for their favorite authors and it really brought out the enthusiasm! From Stephen King to a craft queen, from Edgar Allan Poe to the Russian Edgar Allan Poe, our staff have some fascinating favorites to share. You can be sure you're getting a good read with these selections from our passioned readers. You can see more Staff Picks of some of our favorite books here.

The range of Gore Vidal's work spans political essays, historical fiction, and social commentary. I am especially fond of his series on the pageant of American history, beginning with the novel about the Revolutionary War, called Burr, and ending post World War II, with the book The Golden Years. Also, what is evident when you read his work, is that beneath his scathing derision, is a wicked sense of humor (about all subjects but himself).

True crime is a passion of mine. There are a whole bunch of wonderful true crime writers, but the most prolific and best is without a doubt Ann Rule. Although she passed away in 2015, her estate is still publishing books based on the copious amount of research she had done. For anyone looking to start reading true crime, she is the place to start. From her crime anthologies to her books about one crime only, the woman who once worked with Ted Bundy will hook you into true crime. Her books also tend to be less graphic but just as exciting and informative.

Less popular Tolstoy abroad, but one of the bestselling authors in Russia. His book about controversial emperor Peter the Great gives you an insight on his life work and what it meant to the country. I can promise if you start this book, you won't put it back on the shelf till you finish. 774 pages won't be enough, thanks to the word mastery of the author.

Fifteen years ago my wife and I were in a local bookstore when I casually picked up and started reading Bill Bryson's I'm a Stranger Here Myself (aka Notes from a Big Country). Within a few minutes, we were reading the short stories to each other, unable to contain our audible laughter. Since then I've read Bryson's writings on hiking, the human body, traveling in Europe, the English language, the summer of 1927, William Shakespeare, the history of science, growing up in the '50s, and many others. Bryson has a contagious wonder about the world, an interest in all things unknown and unknowable, and engaging delivery that never disappoints, and a life full of amusing observations that might just have you laughing out loud.

His creativity is unlimited, and he has everything I look for when I want to read fantasy and lose myself in fantastic tales. His characters are unforgettable, no matter if they are protagonists or secondary. Their wars and conflicts inspire me to want to read more. Not only reading a story for the action, but it connects you with every single character and their stories.

Brandon Sanderson has made it into each one of my staff pick write-ups, and there is no way he wasn’t going to make it into the "Favorite Authors" prompt. Sanderson's ability to create dynamic and interesting magic mechanics, characters, and general world building is enough to make any fantasy fan fill their wishlist with his various titles. I'm currently in the middle of Rhythm of War, the newest release in The Stormlight Archive series, and am loving every bit of it.

No dramatist of the 20th century had a better command of the language than Tennessee Williams. His use of irony, double entendre, and the power of words unspoken, elevated his plays and scant novels to an art form without parallel. My favorite of his works is the play Orpheus Descending, which tells the story of a small town torn apart by the arrival of a mysterious stranger, and ends with the residents of the town driven by their lust and jealousy to physically tear the stranger limb from limb.

There are very few authors who have had as huge of an impact on my life as the creator and artist behind Sailor Moon, Naoko Takeuchi. I actually had a fan site for her/Sailor Moon when I was in elementary school, that is how deep we're talking. She has such a special place in my heart because of her characters above all else. Even back in the '90s when some representation was very hard to come by, she showed all types of girls living well and kicking butt, without making a huge deal about it. If you like magic mixed with a contemporary setting, and good triumphing over evil, she is an author to pick up.

I like how a story can use simple ideas but narrate them so intensely that it makes you read the book in one day, no matter how long. Tahir stories are complex, intense, full of action, and the characters all connect in such a way that you end up falling in love with each one of them. Also, I love sword fighting scenes.

I think The Stand is my favorite of all his books as I have read it several times and plan on reading it again soon! In all of his books, his character descriptions are some of the best. He can really get you to love or hate them!

I love his (almost) always happy endings. He differs from King on this because King has no problem killing off your favorite characters! My favorite of Koontz's books is From the Corner of His Eye. It spans several characters throughout the years and then brings all these characters together to bond against the "bad guy."

Although she has written a handful of novels, with '80s music references for titles, her series of memoirs are my favorite. She is a strong voice for Generation X. Her life through ups and downs and even experimental living have made me laugh until I am in tears. Her footnotes in her first few books are exceptionally entertaining. A dog lover with a soft spot for rescued Pit bulls, her life stories will resonate with anyone who has made some mistakes and learned from them.

If I were left with just one book it would be Lanterns on the Levee, by Will Percy. A little-known author, prolific in poetry more than literature, Will Percy was the mentor to several 20th century authors: Walker Percy, Shelby Foote, Hodding Carter, William Faulkner, Eudora Welty, and Langston Hughes. Shelby Foote said of him that he was the kind of teacher that if he spoke about Keats, you wanted to get the heck out of there and go read some Keats.

The Nobel prize winning pacifist manifested in his novels a dual natured theory of man influenced by eastern philosophies highlighting the unpitiable plight of the bourgeoisie. Hesse's bildungsroman stretches from adolescence to midlife, giving it lasting relevance and re-readability. Siddhartha, Narcissus and Goldmund, Steppenwolf, and The Glass Bead Game are my favorites.

My number one favorite author. Most of his stories involve supernatural characters and are filled with satire and politically incorrect humor. Whether it is vampires in San Francisco, Jesus himself (Lamb is my favorite book of Moore's), the Grim Reaper, strange animals and beings, or the retelling of Shakespeare, Christopher Moore is always good for entertaining, laugh out loud reading. There is some vulgar language in his books, but somehow, he is able to twist it to fit perfectly. If you have a dark sense of humor, he may just become your favorite author, too!

If I am not reading fantasy, I am crafting. In that vein, I have been diving head-first into the planner community and there is one content creator I have enjoyed following – Cindy Guentert-Baldo. Cindy got her start in content creation by teaching hand-lettering. Her videos were well received, and she ended up writing a book, Cute Hand Lettering! Cindy’s second book, The Ultimate Doodle Collection for Journals, Planners, and More is set to release in June and you can bet I will be getting my hands on it.

I like Meyer because she is very creative in her world-building, her characters are varied in culture, and her retelling is the best I have read. Meyer likes to turn traditional stories into something much more than amazing with a great balance between action, adventure, romance, twisting those fairytales from magical, to unpredictable and amazing.

Though famous for his novella Breakfast at Tiffany's, and inventing the non-fiction novel genre with In Cold Blood, my favorite of Capote's work is his collection of childhood holiday memories: One Christmas, and The Thanksgiving Visitor. His last, and unfinished, novel Answered Prayers is also a wicked and highly enjoyable indulgence.

Perhaps the post-war American novelist par excellence, has spent decades exploring American culture and its implications. His creations can seem exaggerated to the point of farce on the surface, but this only sharpens his message, the essential truth we recognize in their demonstrable unreality that much more urgent.

For years I shied away from historical romance novels. They all seemed too cheesy for me. That was until my dear friend Lisa introduced me to The Outlander series. When I first read Outlander, only the first few books were out and the television show was far off. This series has the romance of a lifetime, but also is filled with factual history that Ms. Gabaldon researched tirelessly. Add humor, the supernatural, and exciting adventures and it's a winner.

Customer Service Lead Lacie's Favorites

Although a devote Millennial, I am an avid reader and have a liking for authors from all generations and all different genres. What these authors have in common is creating stories that I enjoy reading so much that I have a knack for not putting down the book. As a little kid, I actually hated reading and found in high school that I was just wasn't given story to that could grab my attention. I then found authors like Stephenie Meyer that gave me the appreciation of books which ventured off into classics by Ray Bradbury and then on to Stephen King books. After the Hunger Games movies came I had to read the book and ventured into the newer generation of books with authors like Suzanne Collins which tend to turn into movies, in my opinion books are usually better than the movie.

An open mind from a scientific dynasty that explores the essence of consciousness through literature and physiological experimentation. I find it laughs at existentialism with a shamanistic objectivity. I recommend Doors of Perception, Heaven and Hell, Time Must Have a Stop, and Brave New World, among others.

Everyone knows Anna Karenina and, of course, I've read it in Russian, but my favorite book is his last work called Resurrection (or Sunday, same word in Russian). It's his confession to the world as it's based on his personal experience. It's very dear to my heart as a true monument to the Orthodox Christian idea of forgiveness.

Of all the American post-moderns he might be the most consistently excellent. A fabulist renowned for his ability to deconstruct American genres and forms, to excavate their lasting power. As wildly inventive as the strangest flights of Pynchon but more cohesive; his excursions never become experimental for the sake of being experimental. A master stylist equally adept with acidulous social/political commentary and obscenities prurient/scatological, a playful, deadly serious man of unflagging humor and insight.

As an author he described a young generation of Soviet youth that were trying to live and adjust to terrors of 1930s Soviet Union. It's a living proof that there are always rebels in any time and space in history, especially when they're young and thriving for change.

The Little Prince is a story that can delve into the life of the reader no matter the age, something new will always be found each time it is read. It is a reminder not to lose the shine we had when we were little, filling me with life every time I read it. It fills life with hope, love, and meaning, breaking with the adult routine system, and to show the reader that being a kid is part of life, not part of age.

Jim Butcher follows closely on Sanderson's heels with such entertainment as The Dresden Files. The series is funny, clever, and pulls from traditional fairytales and lore, something I personally love to see in fantasy writing. Jim Butcher's Codex Alera series is just as enjoyable, if drastically different in mood and setting. According to an interview Butcher gave, Codex Alera was written because of a bet. A challenger bet that Butcher could not write a good story based on a lame idea, and Jim Butcher countered that he could do it using two lame ideas of the challenger's choosing. The "lame" ideas given were "Lost Roman Legion", and "Pokémon." The series is fantastic even landing in the New York Times Best Seller List.

Lest you fear I am stuck in the 1970s from my other suggestions, I submit a contemporary novelist of great acclaim. A Russian immigrant now in academia, he has the literary advantages of experiencing the perilous, uncertain life of an outsider, being versed in two polar cultures and societies, and being steeped in the classic despair so critical to the form and structure of the traditional Russian novel, then filtering that bedrock foundation through the lens of 21st century America. Savage intelligence and unflinching focus, he can echo Vladimir Nabokov and Saul Bellow simultaneously.

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