I’m not much for scary reads or for thrillers, so the multiple weeks of Halloween-themed topics for my usual weekly book tags are leaving me a little cold this month, which is why I’m branching out to join Top 5 Tuesday!
Top 5 Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by the wonderful Bionic Book Worm. This week’s topic:
OCTOBER 3 – Top 5 most read authors
1. LOIS MCMASTER BUJOLD
Lois McMaster Bujold has written several science-fiction and fantasy books, most notably her space opera epic The Vorkosigan Saga. I’m still, slowly, working my way through this series, which features the Miles Vorkosigan, a physically disabled, but strategic genius, protagonist. Precocious and gifted, Miles is as skilled at getting himself out of trouble as he is at getting into it in the first place. I’ve enjoyed some books in the series more than others, but have always liked them enough to keep reading. One of the best things about women writing science-fiction is that, in my opinion, they tend to have more developed characters and character arcs than many of the male authors I’ve read in this genre. While Bujold provides space battles, strategy, and alien races, she also provides richly developed, flawed, and engaging characters throughout.
Where to Start: My favourite book of Bujold’s is her fantasy novel The Curse of Chalion. I loved the middle-aged protagonist and found him kind and the kind of person I wanted to root for, and I loved the world-building. I also highly recommend Shards of Honor and Barrayar (sometimes found in a collected edition as Cordelia’s Honor), the first and second chronologically in her Vorkosigan Saga. It features a middle-aged incredibly awesome female protagonist, Cordelia Naismith and a lovely slow burn love story.
2. DOROTHY DUNNETT
Dorothy Dunnett was a prolific Scottish author, best known for her six book Lymond Chronicles and for her eight book House of Niccolo books. I’ve read, and re-read, and wept over The Lymond Chronicles. Telling the story of a brilliant, polyglot, bookworm of a Scottish nobleman in 1500s Europe, they are hands-down my favourite series of all time. The Lymond Chronicles left me with the biggest book hangover I’ve ever had, which is probably why I haven’t been able to fully commit to her other books yet. I’ve read the first two House of Niccolo volumes and, while they were good, the plot and the main character, Claes, didn’t grab me in the same way. I fully intend to read the rest of the series at some point, I just need some distance from my beloved Lymond!
Where to Start: Book 1 of the Lymond Chronicles, The Game of Kings. It’s a dense book that takes some time to get into, but give it a fair chance (100+ pages), don’t worry if you don’t understand everything (literally no one but Ms. Dunnett herself does), and trust that the plot, as well as protagonist Francis Crawford of Lymond’s motives, will all become clear in the end, and it will charm you too. Hot tip: don’t try to translate the foreign quotations on a first read.
3. V.E. SCHWAB/VICTORIA SCHWAB
Publishing under Victoria for her YA releases, and V.E. for her adult books, I’ve now read 6 of her books and have enjoyed them all. I have to admit that so far I prefer her adult books. Vicious and The Shades of Magic series are my favourites, but I liked This Savage Song and Our Dark Duet as well. I’m eagerly looking forward to both the Vicious sequel, Vengeful, and to her announced Threads of Power series! Also I follow Ms. Schwab on twitter and I feel like we’d get along really well! If nothing else, we could bond over our shared hated of white chocolate and Earl Grey tea!
Where to Start: If you’d like a standalone about superpowers and dubious morals, try Vicious. If you’re interested in magic, multiple Londons and a wonderful dynamic between a cautious, fretting male protagonist and a bold, knife-wielding female protagonist, try the first book in her Shades of Magic trilogy, A Darker Shade of Magic.
4. N.K. JEMISIN
I’ve read six of N.K. Jemisin’s works so far and will definitely work my way through the rest of her books. For the last two years in a row, this African-American woman has won the Hugo Award for Best Novel, not an easy task in a genre that is still dominated by white men. The Broken Earth Trilogy, for which she won these awards, completely deserved to win imho. Featuring exquisite world-building, lovely prose, and flawed but engaging characters, this is a series I would recommend to absolutely everyone, and Jemisin is pretty much on my automatic to-read list at this point.
Where to Start: I REALLY enjoyed her lesser known Dreamblood Duology, but I also think the recently finished Broken Earth trilogy is a masterpiece of fantasy, so it depends on what you’re looking for. The Killing Moon is inspired by Egyptian mythology and deals with dreams, the magic of the sleeping mind, and morality. The Fifth Season is a complex work set in a world where Seasons, major climate events, threaten the world’s population every few hundred years, and where Orogenes, who can use the earth’s power to quell the shakes, are systematically oppressed and feared.
5. NEIL GAIMAN
In terms of most titles period, Neil Gaiman is one of the authors I’ve read the most, but unlike the other authors on this list, in his case I’ve only read 3 novels (4 if you count Good Omens, which he co-authored). The other 8 are all graphic novels. I definitely think graphic novels count as literature, but because they’re shorter I don’t know that I count them on the same level as reading a full several hundred page novel. Anyway, I’ve opted to put Gaiman on my list, but I have to admit that while the other currently living authors on this list are ones who I eagerly read new material from, I don’t tend to feel rushed when it comes to Neil Gaiman’s work and there’s a lot of his books I still have to read… one day.
Where to Start: If you like graphic novels and haven’t read the wacky and wonderful trip that is Sandman, I highly recommend doing so. Otherwise my favourite book of his is Neverwhere, which involves a hidden London Below that runs through the Underground. It’s definitely more fun if you’ve ever visited London, but is still an enjoyable read.
MAGGIE STIEFVATER, LEIGH BARDUGO, GEORGE R.R. MARTIN, and SARAH MONETTE
I actually have four authors who I’ve read five books from and will read more from in the future, so I’ve included them here. I have to admit that I don’t intend to ever read Stiefvater’s The Wolves of Mercy Falls, but The Raven Cycle and The Scorpio Races are all favourite books of mine.
I enjoyed Leigh Bardugo’s Grisha Trilogy, but I LOOOVVVED her Six of Crows Duology. I have The Language of Thorns in transit for me at my local library, so I’ll be reading that in October!
Yes, I’m a fan of George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series and I hope he does one day finish the series. I’ve also read one of his graphic novels, The Hedge Knight.
Sarah Monette’s Doctrine of Labyrinths series is not for everyone, but it’s among my favourite books ever, as is her standalone The Goblin Emperor, which is published under her pseudonym, Katherine Addison.
Do you have a favourite book by any of these authors? Who are your most read authors?