I read Leslie Cannold's recent blog post about books that 'changed her' and thought it was a great meme, so here are my picks. These are not necessarily my favourite books, just some books that were important in shaping the way I think or defined a point in my life.
James Thurber: The 13 Clocks
"The cold duke was six foot four and forty-six and even colder than he thought he was" makes me think that Thurber is the grand-master of the perfectly turned phrase. This book is a favourite of my fathers and a favourite of mine. The book is aimed at children but is so lovely to read out loud that it appeals to adults as well. It is a simple fable about the power of love, but the language is so wonderful that it literally makes me tingle.
Salman Rushdie: Midnight's Children
This book smacked me upside the head with its layered complexity. It also made me crave samosas. It's another beautifully written book and taught me a lot about magical realism as a genre. I read it when I was at Uni, and really trying to understand post-modernism and relativism and I think in this book Rushdie crystallizes some of these ideas into novel form. Having visited India after reading the book I feel that immersing yourself in this novel is good practice for dealing with immersing yourself in India.
Marilyn French: The Women's Room
This blew my mind at the time I read it (toward the end of high school) and inducted me into the world of the card carrying feminist.
Peter Carey: Bliss
I read this while I was still at school and Carey is a very grow-up author. This story introduced me to a whole level of adult uncertainty and gave me the idea that the adult world is just as messy and difficult as the world of adolescents.
William Gibson: Neuromancer
Introduced me to 'cyberpunk' and Gibson's special form of page-turning prose. It's a dense, cool book and I love it. In some ways it defined my entry into the world of being a professional Internet person.
And number six, the non-fiction book that has changed the way I think the most:
Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn: Half the Sky
This book has completely changed the way that I look at the idea of 'helping those less fortunate' in developing countries. None of the stats or stories were a big surprise to me, having studied similar stuff at uni, but the presentation of the material made me look at aid on a micro rather than macro level. Think of that hippy story about the hundred starfish....
Now, write your own list, like my friend JM has, and leave a link to your blog in the comments (No blog? Then comment with your whole list!).