Author: J. K. Rowling
What To Read Next: The Dark is Rising by Susan Cooper, One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

British author J.K. Rowling inspired an entire generation to read with her seven Harry Potter books, introducing readers to characters who became our best friends: Harry, Ron, and Hermione. Harry discovered the magic of Hogwarts, the school we'd all attend if we could; he dealt with his hatred of Snape, a jerk who had the hots for his mum; and accumulated more father figures than a P.T. Anderson movie.

The novels were so popular (even without the protests from religious groups condemning it for promoting witchcraft) that it inspired eight blockbusters, eleven video games, and its very own theme park in Florida. Extra marketing aside, Rowling's novels succeeded because she can write. Which is not something you can say about Stephenie Meyer.