All time favorites....

The Aubrey-Maturin Series  Patrick O'Brien  -- I have read the series twice
This may be the best series of books I have ever read.  An unending novel of 20+ books, sequentially told, wonderful characterization, near accurate history, wonderful moments. 
The characters of Stephen and Jack and Diane are as familiar to me as my family.  "Jane Austen in shipspeak" is how i would characterize them - adventures of an English ship's captain and his ever present partner, a doctor, during the Napeonic Wars.  Jack is as wonderful at sea as he is abominable on land.  Stephen is the opposite  a master spy, -  sort of a Don Juan and Pancho Gonzalez, but much higher art.  You learn all about England and its sea faring abilities during the Napoleonic wars, oftentimes via explanations to Stephen, who is clueless about all things to do with ships and sea.  If you only read one, maybe "Desolation Island" - the scene of the two tall ships in a breakneck chase in massive waves and following seas in a hurricane in the South Atlantic, trading stern and bow shots is unforgettable.  Especially when Jack eventually makes a lucky shot to dismast the Dutch ship -- 300+ souls disappear in an instant.  Or how about the time Jack fell off the ship in the middle of the Pacific, and Stephen dived in to rescue him and watch the ship disappear over the horizon.  Or the time in the East Indies when their ship grounded, destroyed in a storm, was wrecked and they wound up on an island defending themselves against the natives.  Or Diana, blue-eyed black-haired, driving the post and four at breakneck speed and Stephen holding his breath the whole time.  Stephen and Diana is priceless literature.   Or Jack in a stockade, and his shipmates surrounding him to prevent the abuse of the mob.  It has shown me what full wonderful lives and adventures people of "ancient times" experienced, possibly something that we can never know.  One thing about the novels underappreciated is the absolute authenticity of the language as spoken then, like I said "Jane Austen" in shipspeak. 
"Master and Commander" captured the essense of the characters Stephen and Jack, but the story is not authentic - the book is better! 

The Baroque Trilogy  Neal Stephenson  -- I have read the series twice
England and Europe in the 17th century.  Wonderful stories, continuity of telling.  Isaac Newton, Herschel, Liebniz, all the wonderful people.  Wonderful description of London in the 17th century.  Near 3000 pages of storytelling.  Daniel Waterhouse meets a young Ben Franklin in the beginning.  Eliza is a wonderful character.  Following Jack on his occidental adventures is terrific, especially the Spanish galleon returning from the Phillipines. 

Alan Furster novels
Europe in pre WWII.  Spy-like novels full of gorgeous period detail. 

War and Peace  Leo Tolstoy
The Andrei and Pierre discussions are what I remember after all the years.  I read the book twice.  Once in the Army, and again 35 years later.   I have watched the recent Lifetime War and Peace presentation.  Very Decent.  I think they absolutely got the character Marya!  Very impressed with her characterization. 

Dune Trilogy  Frank Herbert
I read this many years and was very taken.  Wonder if I still would be.

Poldark Saga  Winston Graham Like an epic Jane Austen novel, comparable to Aubrey Maturin, only on the home front. 

Erik Larson books  Very entertaining

William Boyd Books   Any Human Heart, Restless are precious.

Jane Austen Books.  I love Jane Austen books.  Wonderful dialog

Jane Eyre - probably better than Jane Austen. 

Wives and Daughters  - Wonderful book, even more wonderful movie production