Life and Career
James Brendan Patterson, better known as James Patterson, was born on March 22, 1947 in Newburgh, New York.
As a teenager, Patterson was a good student though he admittedly never enjoyed reading at that time. It was while he was studying for his B.A. in English that he took up reading and after being encouraged by his family and friends, he finally got into writing – a pastime that eventually became his lifelong passion.
Patterson graduated summa cum laude with both a B.A. in English from Manhattan College and an M.A. in English from Vanderbilt University. He was also a Ph.D. candidate at Vanderbilt; however, he decided to abandon graduate school and found employment as a junior copywriter at an advertising agency, J. Walter Thompson Co., instead. There, Patterson worked his way up to CEO and chairman of the company’s North America division. At the same time, he actively pursued his writing career.
His first foray into fiction, a dark stylized crime novel entitled The Thomas Berryman Number (1976), won the Edgar Allan Poe Award for Best First Novel from the Mystery Writers of America. He wrote several other novels, but it was not until 1993 that Patterson achieved breakout success with his novel, Along Came a Spider. Using his work experience, he also took the unusual step of financing and creating a TV ad campaign for the novel, which helped it become an instant bestseller.
Along Came a Spider, an exciting thriller featuring African American detective and psychologist Alex Cross, was the first of a highly successful series – Alex Cross has been featured in several sequels, including Kiss the Girls (1995), Cat & Mouse (1997), Pop! Goes the Weasel (1999), Roses are Red (2000), Violets are Blue (2001), The Big Bad Wolf (2003), Mary, Mary (2005), Kill Alex Cross (2011), Alex Cross, Run (2013), Hope to Die (2014), Cross the Line (2016), and Target: Alex Cross (2018) – just to name a few.
As his writing career took off, Patterson eventually quit his advertising job in 1996 to fully concentrate on writing. He continued to work on his Alex Cross series throughout the years; however, he also decided to brand out into other genres, such as science fiction, fantasy, and romance.
He has received several awards throughout his career, including the BCA Mystery Guild’s Thriller of the Year, the International Thriller of the Year Award; National Book Foundation Literarian Award for Outstanding Service to the American Literary Community; International Reading Association’s Young Adults’ Choices Booklist; American Library Association “Teens Top Ten” Pick, and the Children’s Choice Book Award for Author of the Year – just to name a few.
Today, Patterson lives in Palm Beach, Florida with his wife Susan and their son Jack. In 2015, he established the James Patterson Pledge in collaboration with Scholastic Book Clubs to put books in the hands of young readers.
James Patterson Net Worth: How Much Is James Patterson Worth?
Patterson is one of the richest authors in the world.
His Alex Cross, Women’s Murder Club, Witch and Wizard, Maximum Ride, NYPD Red, Private and Daniel X series of books, as well as his numerous stand-alone novels, have sold over 300 million copies, making him one of the highest-paid authors today.
He reportedly makes $95 million each year and has earned more than $700 million over his lifetime.
Best James Patterson Books: How Many Books Has James Patterson Written?
Since 1976, Patterson has written over 100 novels. He has had 114 New York Times bestselling novels and holds two Guinness World Records – one for being the first author to sell over 1 million e-books and another for having the most New York Times bestsellers.
Patterson’s novels account for roughly 6% of all hardcover novels sold in the U.S. and in recent years, his novels have outsold those of Dan Brown, John Grisham, and Stephen King combined.
Throughout the years, Patterson discovered that he was “more proficient at dreaming up plots than crafting sentence after sentence”. With that discovery, he decided to recruit a select team of ghost-writers who he rightfully credits as “co-authors” on his covers. Patterson’s select team of ghost-writers turn his plot outlines into fully-fleshed out stories and has enabled him to churn-out numerous bestsellers over the years. Some of his co-authors include Peter de Jonge, Candice Fox, Ashwin Sanghi, Mark Sullivan, and Michael Ledwidge.
Among all of his novels, there are some that you definitely shouldn’t miss. Here are some of Patterson’s must-read novels:
Best James Patterson Thriller Series
- Along Came a Spider (Alex Cross #1)
- NYPD Red (NYPD Red #1)
- 1st to Die (Women’s Murder Club #1)
- Never Never (Detective Harriet Blue #1) with Candice Fox
- Step on a Crack (Michael Bennet #1) with Michael Ledwidge
Best James Patterson Stand-Alone Novels
- The Thomas Berryman Number
- The Jester by James Patterson and Andrew Gross
- The President is Missing by James Patterson and Bill Clinton
- The Inn by James Patterson and Candice Fox
- Truth or Die by James Patterson and Howard Roughan
- The Black Book by James Patterson and David Ellis
- Now You See Her by James Patterson Michael Ledwidge
- Woman of God by James Patterson and Maxine Paetro
- The First Lady by James Patterson and Brendan DuBois
- The Murder House by James Patterson and David Ellis
Best James Patterson Young Adult and Romance Novels
- The Angel Experiment (Maximum Ride #1)
- The Dangerous Days of Daniel X (Daniel X #1)
- Confessions of a Murder Suspect (Confessions #1)
- Crazy House (Crazy House #1)
- First Love
- Suzanne’s Diary for Nicholas
- Sam’s Letter to Jennifer
- Sundays at Tiffany’s
- Witch & Wizard (Witch & Wizard #1)
- The Christmas Wedding
James Patterson Movies
Patterson is best known for his fast-paced, compelling books. His works tend to fall into the thriller, romance, and young adult fiction categories. With such exhilarating plots and interesting characters, many of his books have been turned into movies.
For Patterson book fans who are interested in watching a movie adaptation, or for those who would rather watch a film than read the book, here is a list of movies adapted from his novels.
- Kiss the Girls (1997)
- Miracle on the 17th Green (1999)
- Along Came a Spider (2001)
- First to Die (2003)
- Suzanne’s Diary for Nicholas (2005)
- Sundays at Tiffany’s (2010)
- Alex Cross (2012)
- Maximum Ride (2016)
- Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life (2016)
- The Postcard Killings (post-production)
- The President Is Missing (pre-production)
His other novels, such as Women’s Murder Club, Zoo, 48 Hours, and Kid Stew have also been adapted into documentaries and television shows.