Don't you just hate spoilers? I do, too. That's why I always try to include warnings. However, I sometimes ramble a bit too much here or there and maybe a few (or many) key plot points slip without me giving proper notice. So I'd like to include a blanket spoiler warning for the weary internet travelers of the world: Here There Be Spoilers. You've been warned.

Friday, February 22, 2013

My Favorite Authors

This is a list that should be taken with a grain of salt for a number of reasons. My tastes frequently change and I really do not do re-reads. I have yet to finish re-reading a book. Why bother re-reading books that I only read a few years ago when they are so many other titles out there? So saying that should hopefully put things in perspective. In fact, I should probably call this entry "My Favorite Authors... at the time I was reading them." I went through a period where I read about forty Stephen King books in three years. Mostly because I loved the books, but also because I was kind of scared to discover anyone else. I know that sounds silly, but the first time I picked up a book not by Stephen King (a Dean Koontz book, no less) I felt like it was almost a betrayal. But I really enjoyed that Dean Koontz book and from there I really vowed to myself to branch out. Admittedly, I don't branch out beyond the genre of horror that much. This isn't because I'm trying to limit myself, but because I just read what I like and I'm really not trying to impress anyone with my bookcase. So you basically see Stephen King, Jack Ketchum, Richard Laymon, Brian Keene, Robert R. McCammon, and quite a few of the other horror guys decorating my bookcase. 

The few non-horror authors to have books in my collection include Nelson DeMille, Donald E. Westlake/Richard Stark, Mark Winegardner, Mario Puzo, Robert Ludlum, and George R.R. Martin. Am I forgetting any? Oh yeah. There's Dan Brown (yeah, I know, keep your snarky comments to yourself), Ray Bradbury (thanks to Joe Gould for boosting my Bradbury collection to twice its original size), John Grisham, Steven Shrewsbury, Thomas Harris, James Lee Burke, Frank Herbert, Dan Wells, Harper Lee, J.R.R. Tolkien, and James Rollins. 

Honestly, the list of books I have by non-horror authors is larger than I thought it would be now that I actually see it on paper. But I don't own many titles by these guys with the exception of maybe Puzo, DeMille, and Westlake. Like I said, horror is my preferred genre. If I'm also completely truthful then I should say that most of the books I get are impulse buys and I've got titles by each author I've listed that I haven't touched because I guess I'm just weird. Why buy something if I don't want to read it? Yeah, I ask myself the same thing all the time. But I figure the dowsing rod in my mind will lead me to it eventually and it's better to have a certain title for when that time comes then to have to look for it. Keep that in mind. 

I'm always looking for new authors to discover, too. So if you see a guy whose name is not mentioned it's because of one of two things: a) I haven't read them, b) I've never heard of them, c) I haven't read enough of their work to make an accurate assessment of their work, or d) I didn't like them. 

So without further adieu allow me to tell you just who my favorite authors are:

  1. Stephen King - Again, I don't read Stephen King all the time. In fact, I don't read him anymore unless he comes out with a new book because I read pretty much all of his books in such a relatively short time no too long ago. There are a few books that I haven't read like The Colorado Kid and The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon, but I'm not really in a hurry to get to those. 
  2. Dean Koontz - Okay, I don't read much Dean Koontz anymore, either. But I own more books by him then any other author with the exception of King. I've also been burned by Koontz just about more than any other author and his constant refusal to write about an intelligent cat for once gets on my nerves. But I've read a lot of books by him that I enjoyed. As of this moment I would probably rank him lower because a lot of his newer books are garbage, but his back catalog is the reason he is ranked so high. 
  3. Brian Keene - By all rights he should be number two because he is the only author on this list that I have read all of the books by him that I actually own. Okay, I'm a liar. I haven't read the Deadite Press version of Kill Whitey that came in the mail the other day. I have yet to read something by him that hasn't at least kept my interest. I think my least favorite book by him might have been Darkness on the Edge of Town because it seemed so much like The Mist, but I still enjoyed it to a degree. 
  4. Robert R. McCammon - Boy's Life and Swan Song are two of the greatest books I've ever read. If I ever decide to start re-reading books then these would be among the first two I'd re-visit. But his other works like Mystery Walk and Usher's Passing are pretty damn good, too. I have not read a lot of him and his earlier works like They Thirst really made me struggle and I couldn't finish them, but the books by him that I have read are freakin' epic. 
  5. Nelson DeMille - The Gold Coast is one of those desert island books for me. His John Corey books are pretty good, too. When I need a good laugh and a suspenseful adventure I always grab a DeMille book. But he's one of the few authors I'd actually be willing to read as a hardcover and I can't say that about most folks. 
  6. Jack Ketchum - Ketchum may or may not be the author that disturbs me the most, but he certainly wrote the book that disturbs me the most. I don't think anything will ever top The Girl Next Door. His brutal Off Season looks like Willy Wonka by comparison. I discovered Ketchum through King, but I dare say that my favorite Ketchum book might very well have more in common with Koontz because it is about a dog. Red is, as Bentley Little put it, a damn fine book. 
  7. Richard Laymon - Laymon is sort of hit and miss with me, but his hits are worth the odd miss. My first novel by him was In The Dark and I remember reading it my high school economics class and feeling like I was doing something nasty. I felt like everyone should be staring at me with ugly looks on their faces because there's just no way I should be able to read stuff like this in public. But no one knew who he was in my class and that is a damn sad thing. Laymon introduced me to extreme horror and he will always hold a soft spot in my heart. I even named my blog after one of his stories. 
  8. Bryan Smith - This guy is my current favorite author. I read one of his books a while ago called Soultaker and I remember liking well enough. When the whole thing with Leisure hit the fan his books were pulled from the shelves of my Books-A-Million and he fell off my radar for a while. However, once I managed to get a job and a debit card and shop via Amazon I really corrected my mistake of not reading anymore Bryan Smith. I've yet to read a bad book by him. I highly recommend The Killing Kind and Kayla and the Devil to anyone who will listen. Based on what I've read of Depraved I'd say the very same of this one, but I'll wait until I'm finished before stating that definitively. Once I read more of his work I'm sure he'll ascend up this list. I've got the Hard Rain hardcover of his novel Grimm Awakening and the Samhain paperback of his The Late Night Horror Show on the way so I can't wait to further boast about the awesomeness of Smith. He's a really cool guy and you could do worse than to befriend him on Facebook. 
  9. Joe Hill - The guy is extremely gifted, but he has only written two novels and one short story collection to date. I'm looking forward to NOS4A2, though. I don't read comics so I really can't say if Locke & Key is any good. I'd love for him to pump out some more novels and a few more short story collections so he can move higher up on my list. 
  10. Edward Lee - Lee is a fucked up guy and that's just about the nicest thing I can say about him. I haven't read as much of his work as I would like to, but what little I've read is very much in-your-face and almost right up my alley. I have not read much of his early work so I'm going to try and correct that because I've heard those books are infinitely better than his newer ones. I just remember reading Flesh Gothic (my first Lee book) and feeling like I desperately needed a shower after finishing each chapter. For that alone the sick bastard won some of my respect. 

Okay, feel free to tell me my list sucks. Again, remember that I have a long list of other authors I want to further explore and this list is very much subject to change. I've tried Peter Straub before and he didn't win me over with my first attempt at Ghost Story. That's why he is not on my list, but there's no reason to suggest he couldn't be on my list in the future. H.P. Lovecraft and Edgar Allan Poe are not on my list for the simple fact that I do not own anything by them. I love their works, but I think putting them on this list would make me feel a bit hypocritical. I feel like I have to own at least one book by an author, you know? 


  1. You've got a good list there. There are 4 on the list I haven't read but I plan on tackling Brian Keene soon. As far as re-reads, don't worry about it, you're too young for re-reads. Re-reads are just for old fucks like me that can't remember why they liked a certain book so much XD.

    I was trying to come up with a list and while looking at my bookshelves decided maybe just to list the authors whose books I have the most of. I guess that is a pretty good indication of my favorites. So in no particular order here we go:

    Stephen King - The best suspense writer there is. Doesn't matter if he is writing horror or something else, he can keep you riveted to the page.

    Elmore Leonard - Has two writing careers. He wrote some great Western short stories when he was young (3:10 to Yuma and several others that were made into movies) and then switched to writing great crime novels. He is the king of the dumb criminal story. His books have quite a bit of humor in them as well as crime.

    Michael Connelly - The Harry Bosch series is a favorite of mine.

    Kurt Vonnegut - Wickedly funny - creates absurd characters and situations to make social commentary. "Slaughterhouse Five" is a masterpiece on the horrors of war. And it's incredibly funny - that's hard to do.

    Tom Robbins - Kurt Vonnegut on steroids. I don't think there is anyone who is funnier than this guy. If you ever want to laugh your ass off try "Even Cowgirls Get The Blues" or "Still life With Woodpecker."

    Dean Koontz - I agree with your sentiments - don't know what happened to him but when he is on his game, he writes real page-turners.

    John Irving - Many of his characters are misfits and cast-offs. Has a great ability to be hilarious and very sad all at the same time. He has two must read novels, "The Cider House Rules" and the magnificent "A Prayer For Owen Meany."

    Ray Bradbury - He's as much fun to read for his writing style as for his stories.

    Ross MacDonald - Detective writer from 40-70s. He's like Bradbury in the respect that he is as much fun to read just for his writing ability as for his excellent stories. Good hard-boiled detective stuff.

    1. I'll have to remember your list (good thing it's on my blog, lol). Haven't read most of those authors.