I read a lot and have hundreds of books so this it makes it difficult to recommend specific books when I'm asked. So I usually just suggest people look at specific authors. However I've been asked by one of the Exiles Gaming Group to suggest a book from each of my favourite authors to use as a starting point for getting into their work. So I thought I'd be lazy and post everything here so I can just point people to this post in future.
L. E. Modesitt Jr
I love all her books so where to start? I would suggest looking at the 'Saga of Recluce' books and start by reading the first book she wrote set in this world 'The Magic of Recluce'.
It's hard to chose just one one book from all the great series she's written but I think I'll go with 'The Deed of Paksenarrion' mainly because the trilogy is now available in an omnibus edition making it great value.
Great fantasy in the classic Tolkien mould. Just have to recommend the Belgariad series and where else to start than with the first book in the series 'Pawn of Prophecy'.
I love Gemmell's work and I remember how sad I felt when I heard he'd died. The thought that I wouldn't get the chance to read any more of his great stories really got to me. And that's the important thing to realise about Gemmell's work, he's a storyteller. His books waft you away with tales of adventure and excitement but always there is an element of sadness which makes his characters so well realised. What would I recommend as a starting point? Again a difficult one but I think I'd have to go with one of the Druss books and again I can recommend an omnibus edition 'Drenai Tales' which contains three Druss books.
A prolific author but for me his stand out work is the Honor Harrington series. And where else to start than with the first book in the series, 'On Basilisk Station'.
Raymond E Feist
Feist has produced many series of books all based around the world of Midkemia and the sorcerer Pug and they're all great reads. But the obvious place to start is with his first book 'Magician'.
I love his Kris Longknife novels and eagerly await each new release. So again the only place to start is with the first book in the series Mutineer.
A relatively new author for me but when I came across his 'Lost Fleet' series I was hooked. I just loved the premise, the flawed main character and the interesting take on space combat. So where else to start than with the first book in the series 'Dauntless'.
Another prolific author who produces great classic fantasy stories. I love the Valdemar series but I'm going to recommend the 'Vows & Honor' trilogy as it makes a good entry into her work. The first book in the trilogy is 'The Oathbound'.
So that's it there's dozens more authors and books I could recommend but this should give you a good starting point. The last thing I'll point out to you is that some publishers now have copies of some of their publications available for free in e-book or pdf format. My particular favourite is the Baen Books Free Library which contains works by some of my favourite authors. It's definitely worth checking out to see if you like an authors work before buying their books.