Bunny Bunster asked about my favorite author. There is no way to narrow it down to just one. I've mentioned before that I'm addicted to English country house murder mysteries, so pretty much any of the classic crime writers of the early twentieth century could qualify as favorites.
Bill Bryson has to be somewhere near the top of my list of favorites, too. His work makes me laugh louder and longer than just about anything else I've ever read. We come from different generations, but much of his experience as a child growing up in middle America mirrors my own experience. Or at least the feel of my experience. I love his attitude towards life. Anything he writes is gold, from travel memoirs to stories of his life to his side-splitting book on English grammar and his short biography of William Shakespeare.
As much as it pains me to admit it, Jane Austen is another of my favorite writers. It's sad but true. I am not a romance reader but I can't help but love her books. I like how such massive and pivotal things happen with just a few simple words between her characters. She has an occasionally cynical view of humanity as well as a good natured sense of humor that make her stories fun to read.
I tend to crave quietness and subtlety in my free time. My work environment is normally loud and crass. I'm accustomed to working in a boisterous setting and that is perfectly fine with me. I wouldn't change it. But when I'm away from that and looking for something to read, I gravitate towards Austen's restrained and whispery world.
My favorite of her books is probably Persuasion, but her best humorous scenes are in Pride and Prejudice. The sadly comedic picture she paints of the whole Bennett family is dead on perfect. I think I have met Mrs. Bennett several times in my life. And she is almost always - regardless of her particular incarnation - married to a Mr. Bennett.
Truthfully, whatever I'm currently reading is my favorite. I just recently finished the original Zorro story, compiled from the pulps of the 1930's. Loved it. (I have a bit of a thing for costumed vigilantes, or hadn't you noticed?) Now I'm starting a new retelling of the legend - Zorro by Isabel Allende. Her touch seems to be just perfect for this story. I've not read any of her other works, but I'm thrilled with this one so far.
My current unfavorite author is Caroline Graham, the creator of the Inspector Barnaby mysteries. (Do you love Midsomer Murders on BBC?) I just finished two of her books in quick succession. I was in a crummy mood when I read the second one and was incensed to find that in the end Barnaby was unable to arrest the murderer. He knew whodunit, he just couldn't prove it. It was very realistic of course, but who needs that? There is far too much reality in the world already.
Graham is actually an excellent writer. Her continuing characters are almost secondary to the intricate communities she weaves for each of her books. I'll read more of her work later, I'm sure.
So, is that way more than you ever wanted to know about what I like to read?