I love to share authors. Here is a list of my favorites, along with suggestions from others some of whom I haven't read. The order given doesn't necessarily mean order of preference, as they are written from random memory.
Historical and historical fiction:
Will Durant, my absolute favorite historian. His 100 page, Lessons Of History, an awesome little book, and of course his XI volume Story of Civilization, Story of Philosophy, and numerous other historical stories of famous lives.
Bernard Cornwell. Learned about him from reader Tom Cummings. The Grail quest in Sharpe series, Starbuck Chronicals. All about English history in the 17th century, Recent finished The Archer.
Recently read the whole collection of Martin Cruz Smith--mostly set in Moscow after the wall fell and there is a new Russia run by the Mafia. Senior investigator Arkeny Renkov is an out of favor investigator always in trouble with the bureaucrats, and he always seem to prevail but it is a cliff hanger. My friend Mark Gould calls it "turgid," and I guess it is. My favorite is Rose, set in the coal country in Northern England, Stallion Gate--making of the A bomb including all of the main figures...but there are other great ones: Gorky Park, Stalin's Ghost, Three Stations---there are others, and I recommend them all.
Mary Stewart. Her king Author series, The Crystal Cave, The Hollow Hills, The Last enchantement.
Jack Whyte: Series on Author is fantastic. Start reading the Skystone. It is all about the Camoloud Chronicles, in 400 AD the Legions left the British Isles, leaving the Romans who had lived there for centuries, and their confrontation of invasion from all directions. Bloody times, but beautiful real history woven with the Authorian legend---unexpected stuff, for Merlin was actually a Roman Soldier. And the sword was made of a meteor.
Wilber Smith. His stories of Africa are fabulous. Follow from the beginning when the Boers and English settled Africa through to present time. Men of Men, The Burning Shore, they are all delicious. Read them all. Oh yes, there are his mystical histories of Egypt in the Seventh Scroll, River God, Warlock.
Michener. A treasure. The Covenant, another great story of Africa. Caravans, the Source, my three favorites.
Charles Frazier. cold Mountain and Thirteen Moons, set in post civil war. I underline his great phrases and descriptions, noting the page number on the back cover, so I can go back and have a little word snack. I do this with all great writings.
Jeff Sharra---you gotta read his historical fiction on the Revolution, the Civil War, the First and Second World war. He puts you in the head of generals and privates alike, and you learn politics as well as how it was in the trenches. Wonderful stuff.
Bill Bryson. Please read A Walk In the Woods. He and a friend treck the appalacian trail. Funny. A short History of Nearly Everything---I learned more about esoteric and arcane stuff than I could imagine reading this very funny writer talking about serious tech stuff like relativity, etc. Others are The Lost continent, Mother tongue, I'm A Stranger Here myself. Many others. Funny bright writer.
Stephen Ambrose: Undaunted Courage about Lewis and Clark, Jefferson and the opening of the west. Band of Brothers, To America. Wonderful reading.
Alfred Silver. Canadian writer. I stumbled on him buying Red River Story, thinking it was about the US Red River, but there is another Northern Red River, a story of settling the Hudson bay area by the Irish and French. He also wrote Where the Ghost Horse Runs, Lord of the Plains, Arcadia, Colony and Keepers of the Dawn.I read these like a starved man--a harsh time lived by tough harsh men and women in a freezing world -- enough romance to sustain any reader, and enough action to hold any man.
Fantasy and Science Fiction
JRR Tolkein. Perhaps my favorite writer of all genres. You know about him and the Hobbit and Lord of the Rings. I think I read them all three of four times through before the movies came out. You just get into his world of wonder and become it.
Robert Jordan. So prolific. Wheel of Time, progress through hismany sequels.
Roger Zelazny. The Nine Princes of Amber.
Raymond Feist. Rift war seies. The Magician, Krondor. I read this guy dry.
Orson Scott Card, the Ender and Maker series.
Anne McCaffrey. Pern Novels
Terry Pratchett. Fancy. Discworld series. Funny fantasy. Where's my Cow, the Wyrd Sisters, The Color of Magic. One of his books started with: "In the beginning there was nothing, and then it exploded." That is also my idea of the Big Bang silliness.
Neil Gaiman. I just got through Smoke and Mirrors, Stardust, (movie) Fragile things and am reading Good Omens where he collaborated with Terry Pratchett. He wrote the screenplay for Beowulf, American Hero. A real trip, this guy.
Tom Robbins. I put him into the fantasy category, because I can't categorize him anywhere else. I love his stuff. Totally random but makes wonderful sense all together. Jitterbug Perfume, my favorite, the story of a 1000 year old man. Even Cowgirls Get the Blues (movie), Still Life with Woodpecker, Another Roadside Attraction. The others that followed weren't quite as good.
Larry McMurty Omigod I could not believe the extent of this guy's work known for Lonesome Dove, the Last Picture Show, Terms of Endearment. I love his westerns---the Berryberry series of a wealthy aristocratic family on a several year jaunt into the american west in early 1800's, with their fine wine, servants and silver and outrageous standards---Sin Killer, Sorrow's River, The wandering Hill, The folly and the glory. Amazing prolific writer. I just finished Telegraph Days---hilarious story of an "Organized Woman," in the 1800's in the west during the days of Buffalo Bill, Wyatt Earp, etc. He said that General Sherman, who paid a visit to the town and met her, said "an organized woman is a fright to the mind." Meaning, a woman who knew her own mind and was independent and did what she wantd.
Jim Harrison. Legends of the fall, the Beast God Forgot to Invent, True North, A Woman Lit by Fireflies, get his book of short stories, Just Before Dark. Tough, intellectual, sensitive, funny and a wordsmith who holds you page by page. A gourmet hunter fisherman with his main subjects always right there to discuss, women, love, sex, food, hunting. Oh yes Brown Dog can't be missed.
Gregory MaGuire. Wicked--life and times of the Wicked Witch of the West.
Ursula LeGuin. Earthsea Trilogy
Agathy Christie--anything by her--specially the Hercule Poirot series.
Louis Lamour. I read every one of his books, the hayburner westerns as well as other real classics--The Walking Drum, 1700's adventures of a son's quest to rescue his father from Arab Kidnappers . Sitka, about Alaska. The Sackett series start with a man in Ireland falsely charged with a crime and he makes his way to America. The Hanuted Mesa is a great one also.
James Lee Burke. Great Detective stories set in Southern Louisiana and New Orleans. Tough ex alcoholic Dave Robichaux lives in a fishing camp near New Iberia with his wife and daughter, works for sheriff's office, ex N.O. Cop. Get his stuff, haunting, wonderful images and thrill packed pages--Neon Rain, Cadillac Jukebox, In the Electric Mist with Confederate Dead.
CS Forester, Hornblower series.
Carl Hiassen. Set in Florida. Totally wild stories about wild people. Hilarious characters. Natuyre Girl, Skinny Dip, Lucky You, Hoot, Native Tongue. Always involve some stupid badass guy getting what he deserves.
James Patterson. Great mysteries. When the Wind Blows, books with nursery rhyme titles.
Bruce Wiseman---Mind Games. Bruce putme onto reading Sol Stein's Stein on Writing, the best book on writing I have read.
Eric Van Lustbader, the Ninja, White Ninja, The Bourne Legacy. Gutsy, great writing.
Ludlum. Bourne Series, Matarese Circle. Recently Lustbader took the Bourne series to a new level.
Michael Chrichton. Andromeda Strain, Jurassic Park, Timieline, Prey,, Eaters of the Dead, the Thirteenth Warrior.
John Le Carre--Spy who came in frm the cold, the Night Manager, Constant Gardner.
Clive Cussler, Dirk Pitt series. Watch this one though, his name may appear on the cover, but another name in small print appears below his, who really wrote new stuff out there. I have been disappointed in these subliminal authors sliding in below the radar under his name. Clive is great though.
I have run out of authors as I sit here putting this together, but there are many others that I discover and read until I have "read him or her up." You can't miss reading these. I will supplement as I discover others.