What are your favorite books?

Books with beautiful prose and deep emotion transport me, and I love a good laugh and super smart characters too. Below is my go-to list of authors that I count on for an utterly satisfying read. Some write romance, others write mystery or adventure or historical fiction or fantasy, and all are wonderful.

Sonali Dev (romance) – Gorgeous and moving contemporary-set love stories. Dev’s next novel, Recipe for Persuasion, is completely fabulous and is right there in my pantheon of favorites alongside her A Distant Heart.

Dorothy Dunnett (historical fiction) – Dunnett is my favorite historical novelist of all time. The Lymond Chronicles are rich, deep, emotional, brilliant, and packed full of action, and the Nicoló Rising series is just as good.

Meredith Duran (romance) – One of the best historical romance novelists — period.  Duran writes rich and passionate romances with fascinating history. Luck Be a Lady is among my favorites.

Umberto Eco (historical and general fiction) – Mind-blowingly intelligent prose that unashamedly delights in language, twisty plots, and great big mysteries.  Eco’s books are all astonishingly enjoyable.

Georgette Heyer (romance and historical fiction) – Considered the mother of “Regency” romances, Heyer wrote smart, unique and marvelously funny romances as well as fascinating historical novels.  Try The Masqueraders first — it’s amazing!

N.K. Jemisin (science fiction) – The Broken Earth trilogy is the absolute pinnacle of what science fiction can be but wasn’t until Jemisin wrote it: amazing, moving, heart-pounding, brilliant, perfect.

Beverly Jenkins (romance) – Strong women fighting for justice, honorable men doing the same, and real history, Jenkins’s romances are the gold standard.  I’m particularly fond of her historicals, including my favorite Indigo, but her contemporaries are fantastic too (and one is a movie!).

Laurie R. King (mystery) – Years ago, and not yet a mystery fan, I discovered King’s Mary Russell series and I’ve been hooked ever since.  Her latest, Island of the Mad, is so good in so many ways that as soon as I finished reading it I sat down and penned a hand-written fan letter.

Laura Kinsale (romance) – One of the best historical romance authors of all time.  Emotional, passionate, dark, dramatic: her novels are everything I love about romance.   My favorite is The Prince of Midnight, but each is uniquely wonderful.

Jeannie Lin (romance) – I absolutely adore Lin’s historical romances set in Tang dynasty era China.  One of my favorite heroes of romance fiction is The Sword Dancer‘s Han.

Caroline Linden (romance) – Linden’s multi-award winning historical romances are cast with warm, wonderful real people I’d like to make friends with IRL.

Tracey Livesay (romance) – Smart writing, strong and professional heroines, and heroes who are actually good men that respect women — and sexier because of it!  Livesay’s books are my go-to’s for contemporary romance.

Tahereh Mafi (young adult) – Mafi’s Shatter Me series is so good, I couldn’t put it down till I’d finished all five novels and two novellas.

Madeline Miller (historical) – Miller’s prose is a gift to readers.  The next time someone insists that we don’t need to study “women’s” history because all history includes women, I’m going to hand them Circe.  It’s fiction based on Greek mythology that shows the other side of the story.

Kate Morton (historical/contemporary fiction) – You sink into these stories about women and men and love, connecting different times, and don’t come out till you’ve read the final page.  They are perfect summer reads.  My favorite is The Lake House, but I love them all.

Naomi Novik (fantasy) – Uprooted made me a Novik fan for life.

Terry Pratchett (fantasy, mystery, etc.) – Fantasy, fun, shenanigans… Pratchett is a genius.  Start with The Wee Free Men and you’re off!

Julia Quinn (romance) – Quinn’s love stories redefined historical romance (and, not incidentally, inspired me to write romance).  They’re all wonderful, but my favorite remains An Offer from a Gentleman.

Maya Rodale (romance) – Maya’s books are a breath of fresh, smart air and my go-to for light, witty, charming historical romance.  Her Gilded Age Girls Club series is positively refreshing.

Theresa Romain (romance) – Tender, romantic historical romance featuring women who know their own worth and truly decent men, Romain’s books are a delicious dose of sanity in a mad world.  Bonus: they’re brilliantly researched history!

Barbara Claypole White (contemporary fiction) – I adore White’s books.  The love stories she weaves and the struggles and triumphs of neuro-non-typical characters are deeply moving.  The Perfect Son tops my favorites list, but they’re all beautiful.

Connie Willis (science fiction) – Willis writes science fiction for history lovers, and every one of her novels is amazing.  Each Christmas season I reread Miracle & Other Stories — it’s that good.  And The Doomsday Book is a must-read.

I add to this list regularly. Check back soon for more!