You can find George's choices here. The idea was not to think about it too much. And I didn't. Plus I wrote this list at four in the morning when I couldn't sleep-- so it may be spacey. And, as George said, it might be a different list next week.
The Bible-I've probably read most of the Bible. I spent most of my childhood in church, went to a Christian high school and college. It certainly has had a huge impact on my thinking. It's history, it's poetry, it's a plan for living.
The Diary of Anne Frank-I read this obsessively as a child. It led me to read every book about Nazis and the war and the Holocaust, I could find. I will never forget how finding out Anne's fate at the end of her diary made me feel at age 10. I will never forget how visiting their hidden rooms in Amsterdam made me feel at age 50.
Babbitt, Sinclair Lewis. This book stands in for all the books I read in my teen years and early twenties, books that were written by muckraking writers-Upton Sinclair, John Dos Passos, John Steinbeck, Theodore Dreiser and so many more. I think they formed my world view as much as the first two on the list. A shame that no one reads them now.
The Great Gatsby, Scott Fitzgerald-I fell in love with Zelda and Scott as a teenager. Read all his books and stories, biographies about each of them, her stab at a novel. All of it. But this was his masterwork and arguably American's masterwork.
Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen. I've read this book many times and am always charmed by both this book and her other five. I know many men don't get it. They think it's about tea parties and balls (Or at least my husband does). But it captures a strata of society as well as work by Dickens or any other writer.
The True Believer, Eric Hoffer-I don't know how or why I read this book, but it made a tremendous impression on me and explained many of the things I wondered about after reading a work like Anne Frank's diary. It deals with the nature and dangers of fanaticism.
I don't know how it's regarded today, but it immediately jumped to mind (at four o'clock).
The Feminine Mystique, Betty Friedan. A Bible of another kind. Also Our Bodies, Ourselves. Someone actually was talking about female frustrations, aspirations, bodies, orgasms, aging, disenfranchisement, roles.
The Bell Jar, Sylvia Plath. Another obsession. Her poetry especially the poems in Ariel and this novel blew me away. Words could be scorching and beautiful at the same time.
Coming of Age in Samoa, Margaret Mead. I know she's not considered to be as brilliant as she once was, and that she manipulated her studies and her subjects possibly. But the idea of studying the way people live-finding the patterns in it, amazed me. Also books by Colin Turnbull such as The Forest People and The Mountain People.
Die A Little, Megan Abbott. This knocked me out for reasons you all understand.
What books have most influenced you?
Here's Fleur's list.
James Reasoner's list.
Randy Johnson's list.
Evan Lewis' list.
Cap'n Bob Napier's list
Scott Parker's list.
K.A. Laity's list.
Phil Abbott's list
The Liberal Tradition in America, Louis Hartz
Rabbit Run, John Updike
Sovereignty: An Inquiry into the Political Good, Bertrand de Jouvenal
Moby Dick, Herman Melville
Thus Spoke Zarathustra, Nietzsche
The Mountain People, Colin Turnbull
The Nick Adams Stories, Ernest Hemingway
Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, John LeCarre
Walden, Henry David Thoreau
American Pastoral, Philip Roth
Jeff Meyerson's list
1. The Hardy Boys — Rick has already mentioned this, I believe, but it’s the first time I got interested in a series, in collecting, in reading books in order (not that it mattered).
2. Dumas, The Count of Monte Cristo. Our library used to have “summer loans” so you could take out books for 2-3 months if you were going away. I picked this. “I am Edmond Dantes!” This got me interested for teh first time in injustice, and payback, and the bad guys getting what they deserve.
3. Douglass Wallop, The Year the Yankees Lost the Pennant. You may recognize it as its adaptation as Damn Yankees. My mother subscribed to Readers Digest Condensed Books and I picked this off the shelf to read. It also made me want to read unabridged versions.
4. (General) Lew Wallace, Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ. First time I can remember reading a book after seeing a movie, a practice that continues to this day.
5. Osa Johnson, I Married Adventure: The Lives of Martin & Osa Johnson. Another summer read, this exciting story of the Kansas-born husband & wife adventurers was pretty exciting to a kid in Brooklyn.
6. Richard Wright, Black Boy. One of the few books we had to read in school that has really stayed with me for over 40 years. Really vivid writing, a tale of incredible abuse and perseverance.
7. James Clavell, Shogun. I’d read and loved his earlier Tai-Pan but this one just blew me away.
8. Vincent Bugliosi, Helter Skelter. I can still remember reading this late at night in 1975 after my wife was asleep and it scaring the crap out of me.
9. Norman Mailer, The Executioner’s Song. This introduced me to a world I never knew. A brilliant job by Mailer.
10. Jack Finney, Time and Again. The first – and one of the best – of many time travel books I’ve read. Yes, if given the chance I’d do it.