Top 10s: Authors whose Books Overrun My Shelves

toptentuesdayI’ve decided to participate, probably irregularly, in blog memes in an attempt to jumpstart this blog. I’ve known of The Broke and Bookish’s Top Ten Tuesday for some time. Most times, when I was inclined to participate, that particular week’s topic didn’t interest me. This week’s though is one I know I could do.  So here is my Top Ten Tuesday on this Friday. The topic is

Top Ten Authors I Own the Most Books From


which favors those favorite authors who have also written a lot of books.  Some notes before the lists:

  • Though I own all of Shakpespeare’s plays in single editions, he’s not on the list.  Just not that much fun to include the Bard!
  • I’ve also then omitted playwrights. So like no Soyinka. It’s a list of the other genres. Don’t query further, lol.
  • Africans, especially Ghanaians, who can but don’t read are fond of lifting Chinua Achebe’s books off my shelves. At some point I owned all of Achebe’s novels, most of which have now disappeared. I’m restocking but keeping the new copies away, far away from the eyes and hands of the un-reading.
  • This list has twelve authors. My cutoff number for books by a single author is 6 so I’ve included all the authors who made the cutoff. Besides, what’s the fun in a top 10 list that actually ends at 10?


Now to the list:

Jose Saramago –  (11 books) Fitting that he should top the list. He wrote a lot and I love his work. I keep coming back again and again to Saramago.  For a ranking of my favorites among his oeuvre, please read Saramago’s Best Five.  His books on my shelves are: Baltasar and Blimunda; The Year of the Death of Ricardo Reis; The Stone Raft; The History of the Seige of Lisbon; The Gospel According to Jesus Christ; Blindness; All The Names; The Cave; The Double; Seeing; Death with Interruptions.

Toni Morrison –  (9 books) Of course, it wouldn’t be a library without a Morrison book and it would be a desolate reading life indeed! I own: The Bluest Eye; Sula; Song of Solomon; Tar Baby; Beloved; Jazz; Paradise; A Mercy; Home

Naguib Mahfouz -(9 books) My journey through Mahfouzland began with Palace Walk (the first of the Cairo Trilogy) but it was Midaq Alley that defined the land as home. A great storyteller. I have: Midaq Alley, Palace Walk, Palace Desire, Sugar Street, Children of the Alley, Miramar, Adrift on the Nile, The Harafish, The Day the Leader was Killed

Virginia Woolf –  (9 books) Mrs Dalloway gets most of the attention but To the Lighthouse is my favorite. I own: The Voyage Out; Jacob’s Room; Mrs Dalloway; To the Lighthouse; Orlando; The Waves; Between the Acts; A Room of One’s Own; A Haunted House and Other Short Stories

Gabriel Garcia Marquez – (9 books) In a room filled with lovers of Marquez’s big novels, I’m the one in the corner waving my hands and screaming ‘The Novellas, but the novellas’.  I have the following (please note the novellas):  In Evil Hour; One Hundred Years of Solitude; The Autumn of the Patriarch; Love in the Time of Cholera; The General in His Labyrinth; Of Love and Other Demons; 3 Novellas – Leaf Storm, No One Writes to the Colonel, Chronicle of a Death Foretold; Strange Pilgrims; Collected Stories

Nuruddin Farah – (8 books) I’m amazed and surprised that I’ve not talked about Nuruddin Farah on this blog and I will remedy that. Maps (the first in his second loosely-connected trilogies) got me hooked and I’ve been a fan since. Just the way he writes about Somalia and its people, his characters – that old man in Close Sesame, the boy in Maps, the woman in Gifts, well… I have: From a Crooked Rib; Sweet and Sour Milk; Sardines; Close Sesame; Maps; Gifts; Secrets; Links

Octavia Butler – (7 books) That Octavia Butler did live and did write is a fact. Her books are a dream. Read Kindred or Wild Seed, then come back and let’s talk. I have: Wild Seed; Patternmaster;  Dawn; Parable of the Sower; Parable of the Talents; Kindred; Fledgling

Ngugi wa Thiong’o – (7 books) As I keep saying, all his previous wonderful books were preparation for the phenomenon that is Wizard of the Crow. On my shelves are Weep Not Child, The River Between, A Grain of Wheat, Petals of Blood, The Trial Dedan Kimathi, Matigari, Wizard of the Crow

Maryse Conde –  (6 books) At some 500 pages, Segu was the first thick historical fiction (late 1700s) on Africa that I read.  It was so astonishingly fabulous that I vowed to follow and read Maryse Conde forever; a decision with benefits.  Because Tituba. I have: Segu; The Children of Segu; I, Tituba, Black Witch of Salem; Tree of Life; Crossing the Mangrove; The Last of the African Kings

Bessie Head –  (6 books) Head is just essential and required reading for me. I own: When Rain Clouds Gather; Maru; A Question of Power; Looking for a Rain God; Tales of Tenderness and Power; The Cardinals

Italo Calvino – (6 books) You will see it written that Calvino is one of ‘Italy’s best postwar writers’ but that doesn’t say much at all. In fact, Calvino defies description, for me at least. His work encompasses everything – ancient, new, experimental, science, romanticism, mystery. Look, find his classic  if on a winter’s night a traveler and enjoy the trip! I have Italian Folktales; if on a winter’s night a traveler; The Baron in the Trees; The Nonexistent Knight; Cosmicomics; Invisible Cities

AS Byatt –   (6 books) Possession did it for me and I marvel always at even the energy it took to sustain the strands of storytelling in that book. I own – Possession: A Romance; Babel Tower; The Virgin in the Garden; The Biographer’s Tale; Sugar and Other Stories; The Matisse Stories

That’s my list but before I conclude, an acknowledgment of some of the translators who make it possible for me to access those writers who write in other languages. Here’s to Gregory Rabassa, Margaret Jull Costa, William Weaver and Richard Philcox.

Now share your list, please?



  1. Saramago is probably top of my list too! I only own 2 Mahfouz books – I really need to get a 3rd so I can finish his Cairo amazing trilogy. I own books by the rest of the authors you mention apart from Farah and Conde. Great list of authors!


  2. Interesting rows of titles those are. I feel I might lend two or more from Saramago’s and add to my quarter shortlist since the name tops the mount 🙂 Try Nuruddin Farah’s Blood in the Sun (Trilogy) too. Awesome.

    Although I ain’t got a clearly catalogued pile, Soyinka is predominant. Own his entire bulk of novels, poetry books and plays, save a few skits that never knew the publishing house and recents like Alapata Apata. Then a smattering of Biyi Bandele, Lola Shoneyin and Adaobi Tricia. Paramount though are some from Chimamanda Adichie (All), John Munonye (The Only Son, Survival of the Young Poet), Meja Mwangi (Going Down River Road, Cockroach Dance, The Last Plague), Lewis Nkosi (Underground People, Mating Birds) and Ben Okri (Famished Road, Stars of the New Curfew)

    I have hardly settled down for outside-African literature. Bad habit still trying to curb.Yet if there’s any name that seems to work the spell. It’s Oscar Wilde!


  3. Nice list!

    Our bookshelves seem to be loaded with multiple titles by early to mid 20th Century Afro-American authors. We have several books (perhaps a dozen a piece) written by or about Richard Wright, Toni Morrison, Ralph Ellison, and Albert Murray.

    We’ve also got our share (5-7 titles) of international and contemporary writers: Zadie Smith, Andrea Levy, N’gugi wa Thiong’o, Edward P jones, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Buchi Emecheta, Haraku Murikami, and Coleson Whitehead,


  4. Nice list, Kinna! I’d love to share mine, but sadly I don’t have bookshelves any more. I used to have hundreds of books, but have been moving around a lot lately and had to sell/donate a lot of them, and the rest are in storage. It was good to live vicariously through yours. I really must read Maps – have heard so much about Nuruddin Farah, and your recommendation should give me the push I need.


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