Reading has been a way of connecting and finding kinship throughout human history, and books are proof that you are not alone in this spectacle of life. Every experience and emotion you are going through has coloured the lives and thoughts of other people. No matter what genre or style of writing you prefer, you can always find a book that will touch you with its story, characters, and journey. Fiction, in particular, has an element of timelessness.
Although there might be differences in place, culture, and even time itself of the stories being told, all fiction is rooted in human emotion, which transcends these differences. And even within fiction, certain authors are adored by readers of different ages, countries, cultures, and tastes. Their books are timeless as they appeal to generation after generation of readers and continue to be bestsellers over several decades. Here are 10 such timeless authors and their works that you should add to your reading list.
1. Danielle Steel
Everybody is familiar with this awe-inspiring queen of fiction. Danielle Steel’s stories are not just about romance. They are wholesome portrayals of relationships and friendships that colour the lives of her protagonists.
Steel has a keen eye for capturing the human condition and emotion, especially from a woman’s point of view. Her stories contain an honest portrayal of women and their lives as they deal with issues like finding love, the challenges of raising a family, and the pursuit of their dreams. Steel’s stories move at a deliciously slow pace, compelling you to soak in the world of her characters and their journey.
Until the End of Time, Danielle Steel
Full Circle, Danielle Steel
Danielle Steele has written many absolute classics, so it’s definitely hard to pick a favourite, but Silent Honour is a novel that I believe best represents her style and content. The protagonist, Hiroko, is already dealing with the challenge of adjusting to the vast gap between her own culture back home in Japan and life in California, when her life gets more complicated in wake of the bombing of Pearl Harbour, as she and her family end up in detention centres. The novel follows Hiroko and her family as they deal with life, death, loyalty, love, and tragedy in their struggle for survival.
Silent Honour, Danielle Steel
2. Jane Austen
Jane Austen is a favourite among classic literature lovers. Although her books were written in the 1800s, her eye for human emotion still shines through and her works remain relatable for many women. Austen’s writing is characterised by emotion and imagination that will instantly transport you to aristocratic England. Her stories are a delight to read because of the charming sarcasm and wit in her observations and dialogues.
Although set in the strict social scene of 19th century England, her heroines often defy these norms to follow their hearts. Austen’s books also contain a subtle social commentary on the norms and morality of society and how they affect women.
Mansfield Park, Jane Austen
Pride & Prejudice, Jane Austen
Emma by Jane Austen is not only the perfect story to gain insight into her style, but it’s also a book that you can come back to again and again. Emma is beautiful and witty, but can be a little confused sometimes. She is a lively young lady whose misadventures in matchmaking cause much heartbreak and hilarity in her sleepy little village. Though she can come across as spoiled and self-absorbed, her heart is in the right place. You will laugh and cry along with her as she goes on her quest to help people find love.
Emma, Jane Austen
3. Agatha Christie
Agatha Christie is considered a pioneer of the modern mystery genre. Her language is simple and her words are sparse, but her intricate and cleverly paced plots can hook any reader. She weaves a tangled web of deceptions that are cleverly designed to manipulate your thoughts.
You can’t help but get drawn into the guessing game as her legendary crime-solving characters – Hercule Poirot and Jane Marple – move through the English countryside solving crimes. As you read, you will keep second-guessing your own convictions about the character’s motivations and the ultimate culprit. And when the suspects are finally revealed at the end, it will feel like they were right in front of you the whole time.
Elephants Can Remember, Agatha Christie
Halloween Party, Agatha Christie
The Labors of Hercules is a timeless classic in which Hercule Poirot decides to take 12 great cases, like the 12 labours of Hercules, as he bids farewell to crime-solving. All cases are unique. There is a lost pet, a reputation poisoned by gossip, political blackmail, a man spiralling into madness, a lost poet, and a Russian countess in love. This book gives a bird’s eye like view of Christie’s distinct style and her ability to create intriguing and unusual plots.
The Labors of Hercules, Agatha Christie
4. Cathy Kelly
Cathy Kelly is beloved for her warm storytelling and strong female characters. Reading her light and comforting books will feel like catching up with your best friend over a warm cup of coffee on a cold day. The stories are complex, intelligent, and layered without being pretentious. Her books are full of love, laughter, tears, and just the right dose of drama. Plus, they often end on a happy note.
Kelly often portrays relationships between women in a down-to-earth way. Her protagonists are believable and refreshingly relatable women. They often deal with family dynamics, secrets, friendship, parenting, trust, and grief. Although these women’s stories overlap, each one has a distinct voice and every reader can relate to at least one of them.
What She Wants, Cathy Kelly
Just Between Us, Cathy Kelly
If you have never read Cathy Kelly, then you must start by reading Between Sisters. The story takes us through the lives of two sisters, Cassie and Coco, who were abandoned by their mother and raised by their grandmother, Pearl. This abandonment continues to shape them as they grow up while Pearl carries a frightful secret.
5. Ian Rankin
Ian Rankin is well-known for his slow and methodical police procedural genre. His books are not just about simple crime-solving. They have a moral complexity that is addictive to fiction lovers. Rankin’s brilliant portrayal of characters and places has even earned him the moniker “The Dickens of Edinborough”.
His famous protagonist – the maverick detective, Rebus – battles both criminals and his superiors. He works under tremendous personal and professional pressures, but he is not perfect. He is relatably flawed and human. There is rarely a dull moment in Rankin’s stories as they move at a fast pace with constant action. His dialogues have a dry wit, and even the supporting characters are developed enough to add meat to the story.
Doors Open, Ian Rankin
Exit Music, Ian Rankin
While each one of Inspector Rebus’ books is a fan favourite, Dead Souls is definitely a good place to get started. This novel has Rebus fighting demons and killers that are not just from the present, but might have links to the past. There is a missing child, a paedophile, an exiled serial killer, and a dead policeman. The question is, are they all connected to Edinborough or each other?
Dead Souls, Ian Rankin
6. John Grisham
A lawyer himself, John Grisham is a household name in contemporary legal fiction. Grisham’s stories can be a bit slow, but his characters are charismatic and the suspense is intense. He indulges the readers with descriptive narratives and detailed character backgrounds. On top of this, there are constant surprises and revelations that will compel readers to keep turning the page.
Grisham’s novels are often set in courtrooms, but they are not dry legal procedurals. He is the master of describing laws and procedures without getting too much into legal jargon. His works often contain thought-provoking commentary on social issues like racism. There is also a good dose of personal conflict and dilemma that makes his characters human. His ability to balance drama and facts is perfect for the genre.
The Runaway Jury, John Grisham
The Client, John Grisham
A Time to Kill by Grisham is a favourite for many and much applauded by critics for the flair of its narrative and plot, and the relatability of the characters. This is a searing courtroom drama that explores racial violence and uncertain justice as young attorney Jake Brigance tries to save a father who takes law into his own hands. In a divided town where loyalties are clearly marked and various outside influences are trying to leverage the case for their own ends, all hangs in the balance as Jake tries to save his client.
A Time to Kill, John Grisham
7. Sidney Sheldon
Sidney Sheldon is the undisputed master of mixing glamour with human emotion. He often confessed that his secret was the ability to compel the reader to read one more chapter. His books are fast-paced and brimming with constant action that magnetically pulls the reader along until the very last page. His stories are full of twists and turns and contain everything from suspense, thrill, and action to romance. His language is simple and he gets right to action from the very first page.
Sheldon’s trademark is the complex and immersive storyline with endearing characters. His stories are set in the most happening cities around the world and led by strong female characters, and the lead often battles insurmountable odds to ultimately emerge victorious.
Memories of Midnight, Sidney Sheldon
If Tomorrow Comes, Sidney Sheldon
Although all of his novels are international bestsellers, Master of the Game is a standout. The novel tells the story of Kate Blackwell, an enigmatic and powerful woman. Her empire is built upon her ruthlessness and naked ambition. Her life is littered with blackmail, murder, and constant manipulation. Her family loathes her and fears her. But who is the real Kate? Is she a saint or a sinner?
Master of the Game, Sidney Sheldon
8. Jeffrey Archer
Jeffrey Archer is adored for his eye for detail and the trademark twist in the tail. His books can not be confined to a particular genre. They all have elements of history, politics, thrill, suspense, drama, and romance. Archer is particularly good at seamlessly weaving historical events into the lives of his characters.
His books have a larger-than-life canvas where powerful characters clash against the backdrop of constant and clever action. His protagonists are many, and multiple storylines move in and out to create a complex and engaging narrative. His characters are both relatable and memorable. Archer inspires a passion for his characters by giving descriptive, almost visual, insights into their lives and emotions.
To Cut a Long Story Short, Jeffrey Archer
The Sins of the Father, Jeffrey Archer
Kane and Abel is an essential Jeffrey Archer novel with the style, plot, and characterisation much loved by his fans. It tells the story of Kane and Abel, two ambitious men born on the same day, but on the opposite sides of the world. The novel traces the journey of both men over 60 years as they battle their enemies and each other through fortune and disaster.
Kane and Abel, Jeffrey Archer
9. Dean Koontz
Dean Koontz is the timeless international master of suspense. His books are a mix of horror, mystery, science fiction, and fantasy sprinkled with subtle sarcasm. He also has a penchant for supernatural stories that often take a religious overtone. Koontz originally started as a sci-fi writer, but found great success as a suspense and thriller writer. Many of his books have an element of science, usually warning about some technology or an idea.
His books are fast-paced and have an element of ‘chase’, where the protagonists are either pursuing or being pursued by the antagonist. Koontz’s characters enjoy great autonomy and play an active role in taking the story forward. And his diverse range means that no matter what your area of interest is, you can find a Koontz book that you will love.
Devoted, Dean Koontz
Phantoms, Dean Koontz
Tick Tock is one of his all-time bestsellers with his trademark combination of horror and humour. The story has supernatural elements and takes place in less than 24 hours. The protagonist Tommy is a successful detective novelist who discovers a rag doll on his doorstep and takes it into his home. But the doll is far from innocent, as something demonic and vicious comes from it that wants Tommy’s life. It even leaves a warning on his screen that the deadline is dawn. Now, Tommy has to race against time to restore his life with his only ally, an intuitive waitress he meets by chance.
Tick Tock, Dean Koontz
10. Lee Child
Lee Child is famous for his pulp fiction-style thrillers. His books feel more like an 80s action movie with a perfect hero who never fails. His stories are quick and light – a perfect distraction without forcing you to reflect or work too much.
His writing is marked by an economy of style or some would even call it non-style. There is constant action that grabs your attention and keeps you reading page after page. Lee Child’s beloved protagonist is Jack Reacher, the ex-military policeman who has turned into an avenging drifter.
Bad Luck and Trouble, Lee Child
The Enemy, Lee Child
Killing Floor, the first novel in the Jack Reacher series, is considered a must-read in the action-thriller genre. In this book, we are introduced to Reacher, who has spent all his life in the military and is now wandering across the US. Just as he goes in to grab a coffee, he is arrested for murder! While trying to get clear of the charges, Reacher encounters strange secrets and weird behaviours, and develops a personal stake that forces him into violent and constant action.
Killing Floor, Lee Child