The classic authors that I turn to time and time again for teaching on the craft of writing, and for joy, include Leo Tolstoy, Rudyard Kipling, Laurie Lee, Jack London, Jane Austen, Mark Twain, Virginina Woolf, J.M. Barrie, and Harper Lee. Annie Dillard, though not vintage, has been my standard reference point for understanding what magic can happen when we put words on a page.
I admire science fiction authors who write beautifully and weave intelligent historical and cultural elements into stories that are wild, with deeply developed other worlds, yet make me feel as though it could all happen to me, tomorrow. My favorite works include The Story of Your Life and Others, by Ted Chiang, Red Rising and Golden Son, by Pierce Brown, The Stand, by Stephen King, C.S. Lewis' Space Trilogy, Jurassic Park, by Michael Crichton, and, of course, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, by Douglas Adams.
The fantasy books that most strongly attract me are those that are highly character driven with powerful imagery, intelligent humor, and achingly beautiful writing. My favorite fantasy books include Tigana, by Guy Gavriel Kay, Good Omens, by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett, The Wind in the Willows, by Kenneth Grahame, Phantastes, by George MacDonald, The Chronicles of Narnia, by C.S. Lewis, and, of course, The Lord of the Rings, by J.R.R. Tolkien and everything inside of that canon.
Saki. Oh my God, Saki! Saki gets a hat tip all to himself, because he is the greatest. And I just discovered him recently! How have I considered whatever I was doing “living,” before I found Saki?! Well I am alive now and am slowly breathing in the cool, fresh oxygen that is Saki.