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It's a good thing I'm doing this for 2012 and not 2011, because I read so many new authors in 2011 that I'd never be able to narrow it down to 10. (Is this the upside of not reading as much as I'd like in 2012?)
1. Patricia C. Wrede: After I read the Magic and Malice series (Mairelon the Magician and The Magician's Ward), Wrede joined the very short list of authors whose entire oeuvre has been added to my TBR pile, no questions asked. (Others on the list include Agatha Christie, Dorothy L. Sayers, C. S. Lewis, and Jasper Fforde, Charles Dickens, and Jane Austen. They're a motley bunch, but I love them all.)
2. Josephine Tey: I started the Alan Grant series earlier this year with The Man in the Queue. I'm taking Tey's mysteries slowly because she wrote so few of them and I want to make them last.
3. Joan Aiken: I think I would have enjoyed the Wolves series more when I was in late elementary school, but I still love it as an adult. It's a bit nonsensical, and deus ex machina or improbably chance figures prominently in the solutions to characters' problems, but the books are still creative and funny.
4. Elizabeth von Arnim: All you need to know is this: go read The Enchanted April. (It's free for Kindle, if you're into that sort of thing.)
5. Rex Stout: I started in on the Nero Wolfe series because I got Fer-de-Lance as a Christmas present in 2011 and because Stout is considered a Hoosier author, and I like to read books by my fellow Indiana people. However, upon further research, I don't think being born in Indiana but moving away at the age of six months and never moving back really counts as "Hoosier." But Nero Wolfe is still a great mystery series and a solid American contribution to the Golden Age of Detective Fiction.
6. Robert A. Heinlein: I've heard that Heinlein gets really weird in his later writings, and honestly, even his earlier stuff has this really mechanical, workman-like quality about it. But the issues and themes he addresses makes at least the earlier writings worth reading.
7. Terry Pratchett: He is one of the few authors who makes it into my commonplace book because he is funny rather than because something he wrote struck me as profound. (Not to say that Pratchett is never profound, because he is.) The Discworld series is great!
8. Muriel Barbery: Read The Elegance of the Hedgehog. It's amazing!
9. Walter Scott: I put off reading Scott for a very long time, because I assumed his work would be difficult to understand. It's not. I did have to look some words up in the dictionary, but no more than usual. It helped that I read a Penguin Classics edition with footnotes to explain bits of sixteenth century English culture with which I was not familiar.
10. Margery Allingham: Not one of the absolute best crime writers I've ever read, but a good choice if you've made it through all of Agatha Christie and Dorothy L. Sayers already.
Honorable Mention: Deb Perelman: I've read Perelman's blog, Smitten Kitchen, for years, so she's not really new to me, but her first cookbook came out earlier this year, and it's brilliant. If I hadn't been a reader of her blog, she would have been on this list for sure.