My first ever friend (guess we were so small, we may not even remember when we first set eyes upon each other) Kavita put me up to this. Seeing our mutual love for books and reading, it is no wonder that I am feeling excited even before I start writing this. Ahem…let us forget that fact that it has been over 2 years that K tagged me. Given the early start I got into the world of reading, it is no easy task to pick and choose a list of favourite authors out of the entire host I have read. Having gone through K’s list, I can safely say I am going to be repeating many of those and I am glad there is no number limit on this. ☺
While I don’t remember the very first books I must have read, I do remember that my earliest fond memories include books. Like all kids of my generation, I went through a regular diet of Enid Blyton and while her name has lately been tainted by people finding racial overtones in her books, she will always be responsible for introducing me to reading and making me love it – be it the Famous Five, Secret Seven, The Ragamuffin series or the slightly more grown up Five Find-outers and Dog series. And even now I am leaving out many others of the magical worlds she created for want of space!
Another series that comes to mind of another “author” is The Three Investigators. Always with an introduction from the famed Alfred Hitchcock, the concept of these teenage boys running their amateur detective agency was legend. Throw in the brains of Jupiter Jones, the brawns of Pete Crenshaw, the organization of Bob Andrews, a few fast chases, narrow escapes from the bad guys and last minute brainwaves and many afternoons went by very happily in their presence.
Now I come to the books that literally ruled my early and childhood years and changed the way I looked at mystery and adventure books forever – The Hardy Boys! The first Hardy Boys gifted to me by a older cousin sister made me seek them out as soon as I was done with that one and I felt as one with the Hardy brothers, Chet, Biff, Phil, Jerry and of course Callie and Iola when they went on their super excited adventures. The small fact that the brothers did not get a year older (till they aged by a whole year when the Case Files started) didn’t bother me in the least. I remember my neighbour in my Khar apartment building who owned the entire original hardbound Hardy Boys series and how he very kindly indulged this 8-year old who would devour one book in about 2-3 days and be back for the next! When the Case Files came out in my early teens, it made the atmosphere in the books much more grimmer with people actually getting killed and not just kidnapped but the tight storyline always had me glued.
The first “adult” book I read at the tender age of 13 was Kane & Abel by Jeffrey Archer. Took me a while but Lord Archer became one of my favourite authors over time and I can profess to have read all of his books over the years though some of his recent efforts seemed to lack the punch his earlier books had. In the similar genre, covering a lot of ground in terms of world history and seamlessly merging it into fiction was Ken Follett, another writer who I count amongst my faves. Sidney Sheldon while considered low grade by many also ruled the roost for me for some time.
Talking about merging history with fiction, I discovered James Michener a few years back on the recommendation of a blogger who has become a friend (you know who you are). Michener is unique in his storytelling in that while his books are really long and detailed, they are literally unputdownable and you are swept away in life and times of the rich world he creates in each of his masterpieces with intricate detail and research. Some of my favourites by him areThe Source (history of Israel), Poland andCentennial. If you like books with a lot of information, details and history then these are the books for you.
Two authors that give me my fix of high adrenalin action with fast paced action with all the bells and whistles of modern firepower and military gadgets are Mathew Reilly and Lee Child. Reilly’s Shane Schofield and Jack West Jr. and Child’s Jack Reacher are men you look up to at multiple levels and aspire for some of their qualities in the face of insurmountable odds. The best books for a short flight or a day you want to spend with a quick read.
Now I come to a genre that while I took my own time to warm up to it, has turned into my most liked genre ever – fantasy fiction! Obviously, this list has to start with JK Rowling and her Harry Potter series and how badly I wished that I had got a shot at living in that parallel world for a while. It was heartbreaking when the 7th book finally got over and I had to return to a world sans Harry Potter. While it is much older book and had been in existence since the early 1900s, it shot to the limelight when the first movie of the trilogy released and many fantasy fans from my generation were treated to the magic of The Lord of the Rings. I remember buying a copy of the 3 books merged into a single volume immediately and proceeding to devour it from cover to cover. Since then, I have re-read this book about 4 times (yes, call me crazy) and also gone out on a limb and bought all other books by this king amongst authors includingThe Hobbit, Unfinished Tales, The Silmarillion, The Legend of Sigurd and Gudrun and not once have I regretted the purchases. A more recent but just as strong pull has been towards George R R Martin and his famed Game of Thrones series. Needless to say, these 3 authors were enough to start a lifelong love affair with the genre and all the fare it afforded me.
While I am no medical person, but just like K, Robin Cook has had me hooked to his writing and hanging on to every word! Medical thrillers like his brings to mind another fabulous author Patricia Cornwellwith her trademark forensic investigations mixed with crime – can’t but not love them!
A few authors / books have been more recent discoveries – Murakami (abstract but blindingly beautiful), The Millenium Series (3 by Steig Larsson, 2 as yet by David Lagercrantz – Lisbeth Salander always leaves you wanting more and then even more), Keigo Hagashino (one of the best crime / mystery writers I have read, even translated from Japanese). Keigo’s The Devotion of Suspect X was spine tingling not only with its intricate plot but the revelation at the end! Many would have already read and loved The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak but I read it very recently.
This post would not be complete without mentioning some of my most favourite classics, the likes of Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility (Jane Austen), Arthur Conan Doyle (creator of arguably my most favourite literary character of all time – can go on and on about him but maybe in a fresh post), the grand dame of mystery and crime, Agatha Christieand... ahem...let us stay with these for now.
Eric Segal with his Love Story and Doctors! Clive Cussler with Dirk Pitt! Khaled Hosseini who changed Afghanistan and made it more humane and warm for me forever!
How can I forget our very own Indian authors in this already lengthy list? Vikram Seth won me over with his mammoth masterpiece A Suitable Boy; can’t wait to read it again! Arundhati Roy with her haunting and beautiful The God of Small Things. Amitava Ghosh with The Hungry Tide; this book made me marvel how words could be used so beautifully to describe life in the Sunderbans and the tragic end made me gasp at the futility of it all. One of the few Indian authors who went and wrote a series and rocked at it, Ashok Banker (his Ramayana and Mahabharata series both changed how I felt about these epics). Amish, who picked up the mythology trail and gave it his own twist with the Vayuputra trilogy and now is 2 books into his own version of the Ramayana.
Given the number of books I now own and have not read as yet (yes yes, I know!) and the number of authors I’ve had the privilege to read and love, this post could go on and on and on if you know what I mean. So I’d rather end here, wallow in this warm happy feeling I’m in the throes of when thinking of and writing about so many prized authors and books and let this post (which my dear friend, K tagged me to do at least 2 years ago) see the light of day! Happy reading. ☺