This is a list of books that I'd say were my all time favourites. Deciding who is my favourite author of all time is more difficult, perhaps a toss-up between Dostoyevsky and Tolkien? Michael Moorcock & Terry Pratchett would be close runners-up. Contains spoilers.
Life, the Universe and Everything The third of Douglas Adams's Hitchhiker's Trilogy (in five parts) and my personal favourite, sees Arthur Dent & co. saving the Earth from psychotic, xenophobic cricket playing robots. Atmospheric, interesting locations (prehistoric Earth, Lord's Cricket Ground, the planet Krikkit), great characters (Agrajag) and sublimely funny.
Robot series As a fan of 'old-school' science fiction I do like the works of Asimov. The three main books of the Robot series, The Caves of Steel, The Naked Sun, and The Robots of Dawn are exciting detective novels set in the future concerning the adventures of plainclothesman Elijah Baley and his robotic companion, R. Daneel Olivaw.
Jonathan Livingston Seagull A dinky little blue book, less than 100 pages long, and many of them black & white photographs of seagulls. An allegorical tale of striving for spiritual perfection, seeing beyond the surface of things and the possibility of life after death. Poetic, perfect, timeless and inspirational.
Jane Eyre This is my favourite of nineteenth century British female authors' works. Page-turning and enjoyable. Has you rooting for Jane from the beginning. Deeply satisfying.
The Sword of Shannara Trilogy A trilogy of classic early fantasy books: The Sword of Shannara, The Elfstones of Shannara & The Wishsong of Shannara. Sword does copy The Lord of the Rings 'formula' somewhat but it's still a great read. Simple, uncomplicated old-school fantasy.
Burnett, Frances Hodgson
The Secret Garden Had this on cassette when I was a kid & it made a big impression. The moorland and country house setting is very atmospheric (kind of like Wuthering Heights for kids, or maybe not) and the tale of physical & spiritual renewal of Mary Lennox, Colin & Mr Craven by the power of nature is life affirming. One of my favourite childhood comfort books.
The Outsider Aka The Stranger. A very short book, can be read in a few hours but packs a huge punch. Meursault is a young man, alienated from society and emotionally detached. His mum dies. He shoots and Arab on a beach and is caught, tried & executed. The existentialist ideas are certainly interesting but what I most love about this book is the imagery that sears into your brain and Meursault's deadpan first-person narrative - you're in his head with him.
Alice's Adventures in Wonderland
Cervantes, Miguel de
Conan Doyle, Arthur
The Lost World
Crime and Punishment
The Snow Goose
The Wind in the Willows
Haggard, H. Rider
King Solomon's Mines
A Nomad of the Time Streams
Elric of Melniboné series
The Dancers at the End of Time series
The History of the Runestaff
The Gormenghast Trilogy
The Lord of the Rings
The Raid and Other Stories
Complete Works of Oscar Wilde