Today in Part 2 of my favorite literature novels, I am continuing the list begun in Part 1 from last Thursday. In that blog I shared my journey to discovering novels and my favorite titles by Robert Ludlum, James A Michener, Taylor Caldwell, and a few others. Please read that post before this one, if you haven’t already.
Also, these two blogs are only for the broad category of “literature” which in my mind includes mysteries, classics, a very few labeled horror, a western or two, and basically anything not purely Sci-Fi or Fantasy. I discussed my favorites in those two genres in two blogs a couple of weeks ago, links below:
Before delving into authors with several novels I love, the list before are title examples from authors I love or one-offs that still sit on my library shelves and hold a special place in my heart, even if not ultra-favorites.
Margaret Mitchell, Gone With the Wind
Mary Shelley, Frankenstein
Alex Haley, Roots
Robert Golden, Memoirs of a Geisha
The Clan of the Cave Bear, Jean M. Auel
Lonesome Dove, Larry McMurtry
Life of Pi, Yann Martel
The Midwife, Gay Courter
The Thorn Birds, Colleen McCullough
Presumed Innocent, Scott Turow
Stephen King (1947- )
I stopped reading King’s novels long ago, although not because he is a freak and absolute looney-tunes in real life. I’ve never been a fan of horror in books or movies, but King’s early novels weren’t quite as terrifying as later works and he is/was truly a phenomenal writer so I made an exception. Then I read Pet Sematary while living alone (big mistake!) and it was simply too much for me to tolerate, so I gave up on future novels by King except for The Dark Tower series.
That said, to this day I count The Stand as not only the best Stephen King novel but as firmly in my Top Five Best Books of all time. The list below are other King novels I love, all of which are among his earliest publications and almost all of which were made into good movies.
John Jakes (1932- )
I can’t swear I read every novel written by John Jakes, but I have read many of them and they are all wonderful. The ones I’ve listed are my favorites. I honestly have no idea how many times I read The Kent Family Chronicles but know it was easily ten times. I am sure I learned more about American history from Jakes than I did in school!
The Kent Family Chronicles – A series of eight novels following the Kent family and spanning over 100 years from pre-Revolution America onward. These novels were my earliest introduction into learning about historical events and people while reading fascinating fictional stories perfectly blended together. They are also another example of a family saga, again an inspiration for my writing of the Darcys. The first three novels — The Bastard, The Rebels, and The Seekers — were adapted into TV miniseries in the late 1970s, which are available on DVD and on Amazon Prime.
North and South Trilogy – Fabulous book series set during the US Civil War, and a fabulous TV miniseries starring the late, great Patrick Swayze. Available on Amazon Prime and DVD.
Tom Clancy (1947-2013)
Famous for his Jack Ryan series, Clancy is the master of spy thriller novels. So many of them have been made into movies and TV shows, and for good reason. I haven’t read as many of his books as I should have, the ones listed below a mere drop in the bucket.
The Hunt for Red October
The Sum of All Fears
Clear and Present Danger
Michael Crichton (1942-2008)
Definitely best known for Jurassic Park, Crichton wrote over 50 novels in the sci-fi/techno-thriller/medical genre. Easily a third of his novels were made into movies. Long before that happened, I was already a fan of his novels. Again, doubt I read all of them but the ones below are amongst my favs.
The Andromeda Strain
The Great Train Robbery
The Terminal Man
John Grisham (1955- )
Arguably the master of legal thrillers and another great writers whose novels have been made into dozens of movies.
A Time to Kill
The Pelican Brief
Robert Van Gulik (1910-1967)
I discovered this fabulous writer thanks to that small library at my elementary school being so well-stocked with classics and eclectic novels. Gulik was a Dutch orientalist and diplomat who wrote a series of fourteen books known as The Judge Dee Mysteries. He is such a fascinating person that I plan to write a separate blog about him in the near future. His novels are brilliant mysteries in the same vein as Agatha Christie and are set in 18th century China. A delightful mix of Chinese culture and history with a good ole who-done-it. Fortunately, his titles are on Amazon in print and Kindle.
Laura Ingalls Wilder (1867-1957)
As a very young child, before my introduction to fantasy and more serious, intense literature, the novels of Laura Ingalls Wilder opened my heart to the love of history and this country I am so proud to be a citizen of. To this day, even if written for children, I consider the Little House on the Prairie books as the best ever written. At one time I am sure I could have recited any of her nine novels by heart and they are the one series (along with The Chronicles of Narnia) that I read to my kids countless times.
And of course our family watched the TV series every week without fail. Ah, the good ole days!
Louisa May Alcott (1832-1888)
Last for today, but certainly not least, the many novels written by Alcott were my earliest memories of reading. Period. As with Wilder, I honestly could not say how old I was when I read Little Women the first time, nor how many times I read it in total. These classics were simply a part of my life, as if Jo and her sisters were my own family. Frankly, any parent not introducing their child, male or female, to these timeless classics should be ashamed of themselves.
This concludes my personal walk down literature memory lane.
I hope y’all enjoyed this as much as I have.
Please share your thoughts on these authors and titles!
Let me know your favorite literature novels. After all, it is never too late to read a great book!