(Pictured: The first book I've read by each author on the list.)
It's only slightly better than "your favourite book" question. Still not cool.
I already talked about my "love at the first sight" affair with The Professor in my "most re-read book" entry. Naturally, he's on the list. If I really had to pick one, it would have probably been him. (Yes, I should probably feel ashamed of myself.)
Zoran Zivkovic is a writer few have heard of. But he's been translated. Genre-wise, he's usually put in "SF", but there is a lot of fantasy and metafiction there too. I haven't dared to read any of the translated works yet, so I can say nothing about the quality. (Actually, I think one of his short stories was in Fantasy: The Best of the Year, 2008 Edition and it wasn't badly mangled, so maybe there's hope.)
Oscar Wilde. I don't think this requires much explanation.
My father described Dostoyevsky as "horrible". (He didn't mean that he is a horrible writer, as in, of bad quality, but that reading his books was a horrifying experience for him.) So of course I just had to see why. And I fell in love.
Many quote Byron as that poet they might have fallen in love with if they met him in person despite knowing better, but for me, it's Vladimir Mayakovsky. As far as the quality goes, he's way higher than Byron on my scale. Don't be discouraged by the fact he was canonised by Stalin. He was there when the revolution was happening and, say what you will about the outcome, to the lower classes of the time it must have seemed more than justified. In fact, my first brush with Mayakovsky was The Bedbug, which was very obviously critical of the contemporary state of USSR. (The fact that they canonised Mayakovsky despite this speaks volumes about selective blindness.) Again, I'm afraid I cannot guarantee the quality of English translations.
I avoided the Nobel-winning Andric for a long time. He seemed so boring. But maybe it's better that I waited, because I probably wouldn't have been able to appreciate him before latter teens. I haven't read a thing of his that was poorly written.
My overall favourite comic writer is Warren Ellis. It's kind of difficult to put my finger on what is it I like so much about his work. I think it's the balance - while few particular elements stand out, they are all of equally good quality. Or maybe it's the humour. Or maybe that when he wants to relay the message, he isn't beating you over the head with it. He makes a gripping, witty story instead.
If this list was compiled ten years ago, Hesse would have been on it. While Steppenwolf still hold a special place in my heart, I'm not sure how I feel about the rest now. Similar happened with Pratchett and Gaiman, except their cutoff is at about five years ago. Somewhere along the way, the magic was lost. I still often read their books, but I'm not getting the warm, fuzzy feelings anymore - except when catching up to older Discworld books. On the other side of the spectrum, I disliked Anna Karenina, but I loved War and Peace, so Tolstoy, along with Proust, might be approaching the entry in "favourite author" list.