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I love to relax with a “good read,” and before I list any particular novels, I’d like to offer a list of contemporary authors for whom I could recommend just about any book they’ve written. These authors have written a succession of wonderful stories in an appropriate well-crafted style (for their genre), with appropriate character development (for their genre) and with appropriate length (most of the time—a couple do get wordy at times, but hey, no one’s perfect).
You will, of course, recognize most, if not all, of the names on the list, but just because they’re popular doesn’t mean they’re not any good. (It’s funny, but readers are pretty good at intuitively picking who’s good and who’s not). These are the contemporary authors whose hardcovers I buy the first week they come out:
Frederick Busch, Ethan Canin, Michael Chabon, Tom Clancy, Pat Conroy, Nelson DeMille, John Grisham, Carl Hiaasen, John Irving, Joseph Kanon, Jonathan Kellerman, Stephen King, Dean Koontz, Christopher Moore, Richard North Patterson, David Payne, J.K. Rowling, Scott Turow, and Tom Wolfe.
No ranking there, just an alphabetical list. I’ve read the entire collection of each of the above author’s published work. Great authors, great reads. Great at their craft.
Contemporary authors who have passed away, whose work I’d still recommend since they were once in the above list: William Coughlin, Michael Crichton, and James Michener. And though she’s not contemporary, since she still reads like one, I can’t imagine any list of mine not including Agatha Christie.