ELS by Dawson Rambo: ELS is X-Files fanfic and how I met my husband. I could not stop reading this book I found online, staying up until the wee hours of the morning and rushing home at night from work so I could read it. It was thrilling, fun, insightful and affected me deeply. When I finished, I wrote the author a gushing fan email and the rest is history. :)
The Lord of the Rings - Read this trilogy when I was 12/13 and for many months became a part of Middle Earth. I wanted to live in that world, forever, and be with Elves and Hobbits and ride the horses of Rohan and walk with the Ents and fight for good and cast out evil. While daydreaming about Middle Earth, I didn't care that we'd moved to a new town where I had no friends and no more extended family. I didn't care that I walked through the halls of my junior high unknown and alone. I had this rich, colorful world to be a part of and it was far more beautiful than anything in real life. When I finally finished the last book, allowing myself only a chapter a day to stave off the inevitable ending, I felt a great emptiness inside because it was over. Then I thought hopefully, "Maybe one day I can read it again and enjoy it as much?" So I did. Several times.
Lies My Teacher Told Me - Long before we had Wikipedia and the unbelievable amount of information available online today about the world and human history, this book opened my eyes for the first time on how much information we'd been taught in school had been carefully filtered to make sure our culture was usually shown in the best light possible. Even if that meant changing or omitting facts. A real eye opener.
Animal Farm - Orwell: I think I was only 11 or so when I first read this but even then I grasped the gist; where there is power to be gained, beware. Realize there are people who will lie, cheat, steal and even kill to gain power/wealth. Always pay more attention to what people actually do than what they say. I forever looked at the world differently after that, another step into adulthood.
Brave New World - Huxley: I think I was 15 or so when I first read this, maybe younger. Huxley's soulless world of the future, written in 1931, was scarily close to what we had become as a society when I first read it back in the 70's and also spookily close to what we have become since.
I Robot and the The Rest of the Robots - Asimov: Started reading Asimov around ...9? Yes. Robots. And more Robots. I am still obsessed with Robots and All Things Tech. Especially the interaction part. Yup.
Mandingo - Onstott: I was only 15 or 16 when I read this book and the no-holds-barred sex and violence blew my young mind. Yes, I'd learned about slavery in school, as did we all. But that education had been white-washed (no pun intended); this book laid it all out in all its ugliness and I was shocked, titillated and outraged, all at once.
Johnny Got His Gun - This is exactly why war sucks.
The Shining - I was pregnant with Laura and already home on maternity leave with nothing to do but wait. This book helped me pass the last few molasses-slow weeks. Almira, our cat, who was also pregnant, insisted on laying on my large stomach with her smaller but equally distended stomach while I raced through this book as fast as I could. It was creepy, well-written, and stayed in my head for days until both Almira and I gave birth and my life changed direction forever. It was a while before books became important again.
Stranger In A Strange Land - Heinlein: Back in the '70's when I read this, it was different from anything else I'd read before; a blend of sci-fi futuristic brilliance combined with contemporary language, all the while flipping around social structures in a way that was quite new and exciting. I wanted to live in this world in reality and, for a while,...I sorta did.
Gone With the Wind - Margaret Mitchell: C'mon, it's a great read, although not PC at all. But, oh, so, so very romantic.