By Dexter Yarbrough. I have always enjoyed reading a great story. I especially like those full of action, intrigue, revenge and justice. There is nothing like a good book on a wintry day or one where the summer breeze is making you feel fine. Sitting back and getting lost in a magical time can take away all of life’s struggles and stresses – at least for a while.

As you well know, it would be difficult to find two people who are going to like the same authors equally. As such, I have compiled a top ten list of my favorite authors. And since I am a fair person, you may feel free to list yours in the comments section. This should be fun!

Alexandre Dumas

1. Alexandre Dumas. The Three Musketeers is an exceptional book. It is full of action and surprises. It has love and betrayal.¬†However, my favorite from Alexandre Dumas is The Count of Monte Cristo. I have read this book too many times to count. It has the ultimate in betrayal as well as a systematic and methodical plan of revenge by the main character, Edmond Dantes. Not only will this book keep you guessing, the plot weaves together and you will cheer as the betrayers get what’s coming to them. Mr. Dumas was a fabulous author and is number one in my – book!

2. Mark Twain. If you want to read books full of 19th Century American adventure, you must read The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and its sequel, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. There is a reason why Huckleberry Finn has been called the “Great American Novel.” Moreover, there is a reason why it is still required reading in many schools. The book shows the ethical decisions that Huck has to make regarding the slave, Jim, and how he resolved these issues. It is an outstanding book and Mark Twain was a master of storytelling.

3. Dr. Seuss. Yes! Dr. Seuss! I read Dr. Seuss’ books as a child and so did my children. He has longevity in terms of a writer’s production. This means that generations have and will continue to enjoy The Cat in the Hat, Green Eggs and Ham and The Grinch Who Stole Christmas. His books contain remarkable and unforgettable characters.

4. Stephen King. Carrie, The Shining, The Stand, Firestarter, Cujo, Misery, Christine, Dolores Claiborne, The Green Mile. Must I really continue? Stephen King is arguably one of the best novelist of this time.

Alex Haley

5. Alex Haley. If you haven’t read the The Autobiography of Malcolm X, you are missing out on learning about the life of a troubled yet famous black American. This book can enlighten you in terms of your knowledge of events regarding black people during the early to mid 20th Century. And it can also change your life. However, it was Roots: The Saga of an American Family that made Alex Haley famous. While there has been some criticism of the accuracy related to Roots, this does not detract from the fact that the book is one of the best based upon American history. No, not black history – American history!

6. George Orwell. He is considered the best chronicler of English culture in the 20th Century. His best known works, Nineteen Eighty-Four and Animal Farm, together have sold more copies than any two books by any other 20th Century author. George Orwell’s intellect and wit are reflected in his writings along with his awareness of social injustice.

7. John Grisham. John Grisham is the master of the legal thriller. I found out about him by mistake. While waiting for a flight, I bought A Time to Kill, hoping that it would help me to pass the time away. Upon reading  it, I became an instant fan. When your books are adapted as feature films, a successful author you have become. Aside from A Time to Kill, his books The Firm, The Chamber, The Client, A Painted House, The Pelican Brief, The Rainmaker and The Runaway Jury are among his best novels.

Charles Dickens

8. Charles Dickens. Charles Dickens is considered the greatest author of the Victorian period. His work contains a great deal realism,comedy and concern for social reform. My favorites: A Christmas Carol, Great Expectations, David Copperfield and The Adventures of Oliver Twist.

9. J.R.R. Tolkien. Tolkien is best known for his stories set in Middle Earth. The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. I rest my case!

10. Jane Austen. Jane Austen is one of my favorite authors because of the realism of her characters as well as the social commentary intertwined within her novels. I also love the romances. Her best work includes, Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice, Mansfield Park and Emma. I really like Sense and Sensibility because it explores the balance between sense (pure logic) and sensibility (pure emotion) in life and love.

Well, there you have it. My top ten authors. Certainly, an argument can me made for many others. However, the ten I have listed have had the most effect upon me and provided hours of entertainment and thought-provoking reading.

Dexter Yarbrough