We all have them. The authors to whom we return time and time again; whose work has the same effect on our souls as "comfort food."
They're our favorites.
We campaign for them, extolling their literary virtues at every given opportunity. We line our shelves with their collected works and wait anxiously for their latest release.
But how did we choose those authors as our favorites? What makes one person's writing appeal to someone more than another?
Personally, I've always had a difficult time when I'm asked, "Who's your favorite author?" Sure, I easily blurt out, "Shakespeare!" but as far as novelists go, I've always had a long list to choose from. F. Scott Fitzgerald. Jane Austen. Virginia Woolf. Salman Rushdie. Thomas Hardy. C.S. Lewis. J.R.R. Tolkien. Kate Morton. Haruki Murakami. James Joyce. And if you add poets into the mix, that increases the number to include the likes of John Keats, Seamus Heaney, T.S. Eliot, W.B. Yeats, etc., etc., etc. I can rattle off the list for ages, but I always feel, when I'm asked that question, as if I'm forgetting someone crucial. But, outside of Shakespeare, to pick a "favorite" is virtually impossible for me.
There are some things that all the authors on my list have in common. They're all fabulous storytellers with a gift for language. They all appeal to my mind and my heart in some way or another. But they're all so, so different. If you take a passage from Jane Austen, for example, and put it up next to one straight out of Salman Rushdie's latest work, you're not going to be able to draw a lot of specific parallels. In a lot of cases, fans of Austen and Rushdie probably don't overlap. But there's something essential to both authors' works that makes them enduring and appealing.
So, what is it that causes an author to make your "favorites" list? Is it the stories he or she tells? The way the author plays with language? Does this author tug at your heartstrings or appeal to your cerebellum? What is it that makes you want to devour everything ever written by an author?