20 Popular Book Authors and Their Favorite Books

The key to good writing, they say is to always keep reading other people’s works. However, that doesn’t stop even after you must have published a book because the more you read, the more your writing skills get better. There are many popular book authors who have led interesting lifestyles, giving room for adventure and exploring new things and their books have become fans favorite. These authors, particularly novelists, are inspired in so many ways on the subject that interests them. Hence, what better books to read than the ones that have inspired our favorite authors? That being said, here is a list of 20 popular book authors and their favorite books.

Popular Book Authors and Their Favorite Books

1. Stephen King

  • Nationality: American
  • Genre: Horror, fantasy, supernatural, fiction, drama, gothic, genre fiction, dark fantasy, post-apocalyptic fiction, crime fiction, suspense, thriller
  • Number of books written: 62 novels, 200 short stories
  • Estimated number of books sold: Over 350 million copies
Popular authors and their favorite books
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During the Goodreads 10th anniversary, The King of Horror, Stephen King unveiled some of his favorite books. Quite an interesting list, the beloved horror and supernatural fiction writer’s picks include “Lord of the Flies” by William Golding; “Ship of Fools” by Katherine Anne Porter; “The Orphan Master’s Son” by Adam Johnson; “The Invisible Man” by Ralph Ellison; “1984” by George Orwell; “The Lord of the Rings” by J.R.R Tolkien, and “American Pastoral” (The American Trilogy) by Phillip Roth.

2. J.K. Rowling

  • Nationality: British
  • Genre: Fantasy, drama, young adult fiction, tragicomedy, crime fiction
  • Number of books written: 47
  • Estimated number of books sold: Over 500 million
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Although the Harry Potter series has become favorite books to millions of readers out there, J.K. Rowling also has some books she’d like to read. The British author draws her inspiration from books by other authors like Jane Austen and many others. She has also unveiled some of her favorite books which most of her fans would be happy to read. They include “Emma” by Jane Austen; Roddy Doyle’s “The Woman Who Walked Into Doors”; Doris Kearns Goodwin’s “Team of Rivals”; Auberon Waugh’s “The Diaries of Auberon Waugh”, and Anna Sewell’s “Black Beauty”, among others.

3. Amy Tan

  • Nationality: Chinese-American
  • Genre: Fiction
  • Number of books written: 39
  • Estimated number of books sold: NA
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The American author of Chinese descent, Amy Tan has made giant strides exploring intergenerational familial relationships and the Chinese-American experience, which can be seen in most of her works today. She has authored several books including The Joy Luck Club which sold over 6 million copies in the US and also topped the bestseller lists. Amazingly, the acclaimed author has listed some of her favorite books and they contain quite an interesting read. They include “Love Medicine” by Louise Erdrich; Bernd Heinrich’s “Mind of the Raven”; Mary Karr’s “The Liars’ Club”; Rabih Alameddine’s “An Unnecessary Woman”; “The Woman Warrior” by MaxineHong Kingston, and Mary Oliver’s “Devotions”.

4. Khaled Hosseini

  • Nationality: Afghan-American
  • Genre: Fiction
  • Number of books written: 18
  • Estimated number of books sold: Over 38 million copies

The Afghan-American novelist and physician, Khaled Hosseini is known for his three bestseller novels including The Kite Runner (2003), A Thousand Splendid Suns (2007), as well as And the Mountains Echoed (2013). The author has listed quite a good number of authors and books that inspires him and if you are a fan, we know you’d find them interesting too. They include Ian McEwan’s Nutshell; Seven Brief Lessons on Physics by Carlo Rovelli; Family Life by Akhil Sharma; Rachel Cusk’s Outline and Heroes of the Frontier by Dave Eggers, among others.

5. Tana French

  • Nationality: American-Irish
  • Genre: Crime fiction, psychological mystery,
  • Number of books written: 11
  • Estimated number of books sold: 7 million copies
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The American-Irish writer known for her crime fiction novel In The Woods (2007), identified her favorite book of all-time as Love Medicine by Louise Erdrich. She also shared some of her other favorite books including Richard Adams’ Watership Down; National Velvet by Enid Bagnold; Thomas Keneally’s Playmaker; Einstein’s Dreams by Alan Lightman, and Mary Renault’s The King Must Die. Tana French has also released other thrillers such as The Likeness (2008), The Secret Place (2014), and The Trespasser (2016).

6. George R.R Martin

  • Nationality: American
  • Genre: Science fiction, ‎horror‎, ‎fantasy
  • Number of books written: 50
  • Estimated number of books sold: 90 million copies
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While there are lots of fans out there who could be wondering what books their favorite author George R.R. Martin is currently reading, it comes as no surprise that the writer also has a few interesting reads of his own. However, the Game of Thrones author revealed some of his favorite books to include J.R.R Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings; Lord of Light by Roger Zelazny; Alfred Bester’s The Stars My Destination; The Fireman by Joe Hill; Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel, and Have a Space Suit-Will Travel by Robert A. Heinlein, among others.

7. Danzy Senna

  • Nationality: American
  • Genre: Fiction
  • Number of books written: 6
  • Estimated number of books sold: NA
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Yet another renowned American writer, Danzy Senna has won several awards since the inception of her writing career. She has won a good number of awards including a Whiting Award, among many others. With over five books under her belt and several essays, Senna has drawn influences from so many books. Some of which include Kazuo Ishiguro’s The Unconsoled; Nella Larsen’s Quicksand; The Cry of the Owl by Patricia Highsmith; Bell Hooks’ Black Looks: Race and Representation, and The Easter Parade by Richards Yates.

8. Atul Gawande

  • Nationality: American
  • Genre: Medicine, public health
  • Number of books written: 7
  • Estimated number of books sold: NA
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Known for being an American surgeon and public health researcher, Atul Gawande is also an acclaimed author. He has authored several bestselling books on medicine and public health, including The Checklist Manifesto, Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End, and Complications: A Surgeon’s Notes on an Imperfect Science. When asked about his favorite books, Atul listed Ernest Hemingway’s “A Farewell to Arms”; Arthur Conan Doyle’s “The Complete Sherlock Holmes”; “Invisible Cities” by Italo Calvino; Joan Didion’s “The Year of Magical Thinking”, and “The Death of Ivan Ilyich” and “Confession”, etc.

9. Brit Bennett

  • Nationality: American
  • Genre: Fiction
  • Number of books written: 4
  • Estimated number of books sold: NA

Although she might be a newbie in the literary world; nevertheless, Brit Bennett has become a reckoning force with her debut novel The Mothers released in 2016. In addition to being a New York Times bestseller, the book was picked up by Warner Bros for a film adaption with Kerry Washington tapped to be the producer. Interestingly, Bennett has listed some of her favorite books which you’d also find very thrilling. They include Toni Morrison’s Song of Solomon; The Color Purple by Alice Walker; Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston; James Baldwin’s Go Tell It on the Mountain, and The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead, among others.

10. Brian K. Vaughan

  • Nationality: American
  • Genre: Science fiction, superhero, space opera/fantasy
  • Number of books written: 51
  • Estimated number of books sold: NA
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This American writer has made giant strides in the literary world, thanks to his expertise in writing Superhero, Space Opera/Fantasy and Sci-Fi books. Known for his works such as Ex Machina, Paper Girls, Saga, Pride of Baghdad, Runaways, and Y: The Last Man, etc, Brian is no doubt among the most popular book authors out there. While he is known for writing comic books, it might interest you to know some of his favorite books and writers. They include Michael Chabon’s The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay; Catch – 22 by Joseph Heller; The Fermata by Nicholson Baker; Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison; Eric Bogosian’s Perforated Heart, Misery by Stephen King, and many others.

11. Gillian Flynn

  • Nationality: American
  • Genre: Fiction; ‎thriller‎; ‎mystery
  • Number of books written: 11
  • Estimated number of books sold: Over 15 million
Popular Book Authors
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Gillian Flynn is not one to be forgotten in a hurry, the American author has become a force to reckon with in the literary world, thanks to her outstanding penning skills. Known for her works including Sharp Objects, Gone Girl, and Dark Places, Flynn’s works has become incredibly successful and has been adapted into successful movies. When asked about her favorite books, the author listed several books including Karin Slaughter’s Pretty Girls; And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie, and The Executioner’s Song by Norman Mailer, among others.

12. Ken Follett

  • Nationality: Welsh
  • Genre: Thriller, spy novel, historical fiction
  • Number of books written: 49
  • Estimated number of books sold: 160 million copies

The Welsh author Ken Follett is no doubt one of the most popular and bestselling authors of all time. He has written several Historical and Spy thrillers including Edge of Eternity, A Dangerous Fortune, Fall of Giants, World Without End, Winter of the World, Lie Down with Lions, and The Key Rebecca. When it comes to Follett’s favorite books, you’d expect nothing less than interesting reads such as George Eliot’s The Mill on the Floss; The Lady in Car with Glasses and a Gun by Sebastien Japrisot; Live and Let Die by Ian Fleming; Jean Gimpel’s The Cathedral Builders, Dombey and Son by Charles Dickens, etc.

13. George Saunders

  • Nationality: American
  • Genre: Short stories, essays, novellas, children’s books
  • Number of books written: 17
  • Estimated number of books sold: NA
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Best known for his novellas and children’s books, George Saunders isn’t just among the most popular writers but one of the greatest book authors of our time. The American author has released several commercially successful books and has raked in several awards. However, during an interview on Oprah Winfrey’s show, Saunders disclosed some of his favorite books to the TV star. They include Tobias Wolff’s In the Garden of the North American Martyrs; Dispatches by Michael Herr; The Coast of Chicago by Stuart Dybek and Isaac Babel’s The Red Calvary, among others.

14. Colleen Hoover

  • Nationality: American
  • Genre: Young adult fiction, New-adult fiction
  • Number of books written: 42
  • Estimated number of books sold: NA

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Colleen Hoover is one of the New York Times bestselling authors and one of the most popular book authors both in American and beyond. With more than 14 books published, the prolific writer has released eleven New York Times bestsellers which made her fans favorite. The New Adult and Young Adult fiction writer also has a lot of interesting reads as her favorites and they include Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein; Judy Blume’s In the Unlikely Event; The Japanese Lover by Isabel Allende; Katja Millay’s The Sea of Tranquility; The Andy Cohen Diaries: A Deep Look at a Shadow by Andy Cohen and Ever Day by Levithan, among others.

15. Erik Larson

  • Nationality: American
  • Genre: Non-fiction
  • Number of books written: 17
  • Estimated number of books sold: NA
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An American journalist and author, Erik Larson is highly acclaimed for his nonfiction and classic narrative like The Devil in the White City (2002) and Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania (2015). During an interview in 2015, the writer said that his all-time favorite book is The Maltese Falcon. According to him, he likes all parts of the book including the plot, the characters, and the dialogue which inspired John Houston’s film of the same name. Some of his other picks include The Shipping News by Annie Proulx; The Final Silence by Stuart Neville, and Jo Nesbo’s Police, etc.

16. Sarah J. Maas

  • Nationality: American
  • Genre: Young adult fantasy fiction
  • Number of books written: 28
  • Estimated number of books sold: 9 million copies

With her debut novel Throne of Glass launched in 2012, Sarah J. Maas has gone on to release over 30 novels some of which rank high on the best sellers list. They include House of Earth and Blood (2017), The Court of Thorns and Roses series, and The Assassin’s Blade series, among others. During the Goodreads 10th anniversary, Sarah revealed her favorite books to include Sally Thorne’s The Hating Game, Sabriel by Garth Nix, The Book of Three by Lloyd Alexander, Roshani Chokshi’s The Star-Touched Queen, and many others.

17. Joyce Carol Oates

  • Nationality:
  • Genre: Gothic, horror
  • Number of books written: 51
  • Estimated number of books sold: NA
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While in an interview in 2013, the published author Joyce Carol Oats revealed writer Dostoevsky to be among her most favorite authors. And when asked about her favorite book of all time, she listed Crime and Punishment by Dostoyevsky. That’s not all; the American writer also has a reading list which includes Anthony Marra’s books A Constellation of Vital Phenomena and The Tsar of Love and Techno; The Good Lieutenant by Atticus Lish and Welcome to Braggsville by T. Geronimo Johnson.

See Also: 25 Best True Crime Books of All Time According To AbeBooks

18. Karan Mahajan

  • Nationality: Indian-American
  • Genre: Fiction, critic
  • Number of books written: 2
  • Estimated number of books sold: NA
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The Indian-American author, known for his book, The Association of Small Bombs which was a finalist for the 2016 National Book Award for Fiction, was also named as one of Granta’s Best Young American Novelists in 2017. Since then, he has become one of the most popular book authors in the United States. More so, he has cited books from other authors including The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy, Half a Life by V.S. Naipaul, Cynthia Ozick’s The Puttermesser Papers, J.G. Ballard’s Crash, Orhan Pamuk’s The Museum of Innocence, and Saul Bellow’s Herzog, as his favorite books.

19. Lily King

  • Nationality: American
  • Genre: Science fiction, fantasy
  • Number of books written: 10
  • Estimated number of books sold: NA

The author of Euphoria (2014) and Father of the Rain (2010), Lily King is among the most prolific and most popular book authors in America. Since releasing her first novel, The Pleasing Hour in 1999, the writer has gone on to pen other notable books and has also received several awards. The writer shares some of her most beloved books and they include Virginia Woolf’s To the Lighthouse; The Evening of the Holiday by Shirley Hazzard; Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen; Thomas Hardy’s Tess of the D’Urbervilles, and Alice Munro’s Friend of My Youth, among others.

20. Maya Angelou

  • Nationality: American
  • Genre: Autobiographical fiction
  • Number of books written: 50
  • Estimated number of books sold: NA
Popular book authors
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Our list of popular book authors and their favorite books wouldn’t be complete without mentioning beloved Maya Angelou. Although the renowned American poet, novelist and civil rights activist is no more, Maya had a number of favorite books that inspired her. They include the Bible, Thomas Wolfe’s Look Homeward, Angel; Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities; Little Women by Louisa May Alcott, and Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man. Maya’s death occurred on the 28th day of May 2014 and she was said to be working on another book at the time of her passing.

Recap of Popular Book Authors

  • Stephen King
  • J.K. Rowling
  • Amy Tan
  • Khaled Hosseini
  • Tana French
  • George R.R Martin
  • Danzy Senna
  • Atul Gawande
  • Brit Bennett
  • Brian K. Vaughan
  • Gillian Flynn
  • Ken Follett
  • George Saunders
  • Colleen Hoover
  • Erik Larson
  • Sarah J. Maas
  • Joyce Carol Oates
  • Karan Mahajan
  • Lily King
  • Maya Angelou

Iyke Legend
Ikenna is an avid reader, writer, and editor. He has been providing quality content for top websites for over 5 years. Besides writing, his other interests include reading, research, music, and sports.


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