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It's that simple, those books that had such an impact that it altered or shaped the way you think, act, react to the world and the rest of us.
I'll open with Ender's Game. I wasn't much older than the main characters the first time I read it and looking back I am pretty sure it along with Starship Troopers (the novel not the movie...that inspired me for other reasons..ha!) led me to my beliefs about the meaning of and the responsibilities of the citizenry and the individual.
The Giver was probably the most impactful. When I was little (2nd grade) we read aloud as a class 'Where the Red Fern Grows', it inspired me to become a reader, from that point on I think reading has been my favorite hobby (even over WoW :D) there is something about being immersed in a book that changes you and the world around you :)
Comic books. They taught me how to read better then my first grade teacher with her ###% (short form of Richard) and Jane could.
Many of my religious and philosophical views grew out of novels like Heinlein's Stranger in a Strange Land and The Moon is a Harsh Mistress.
For some strange reason, while I grew up on primarily Science Fiction, somewhere along the line, Fantasy, such as The Lord of the Rings and Robert Jordan's Wheel of Times series has been my preference in my older years.
Edit due to crazy censor.
Edited by Asterides on 5/3/2011 10:47 AM PDT
As silly as it's going to sound, the book that opened me up to the literary world was Jurassic Park. I was in the seventh grade and didn't like reading all that much before picking it up.
That being said, it was the Lord of the Rings that opened up the world of fantasy to me. Hehe I didn't even read the hobbit first. A friend handed them to me and once I started reading them I couldn't put them down.
I would put myself in the same boat, I was probably about as old as some of the older characters in the school when I started reading it... It was an amazing read back then, and has continued to be any time I have reread it. Have you read the rest of the books in the series? Orson Scott Card did an amazing job with those as well, and if you haven't, I'd recommend picking them up (there are really 2 different series, one that follows Ender in his life after the book, and another that starts with a parallel novel, and continues with Ender's brother and classmates from the original book).
The Lord of the Rings was a great series after I got past my childhood inner-prejudice toward it, and in fact, was the main catalyst in pushing me to my current geekdom.
Peter F. Hamilton's The Night's Dawn Trilogy was another one of those series that captivated me. It was extremely hard to get into at first (could have been a lot of it is very advanced, and I think I was 13 when I started reading them) but once I got into it, I couldn't put the books down until I had finished all 6.
Asimov's Foundation and all the books he wrote around that universe were a marvel to discover, especially since I had been into science fiction for quite a while, and it was like going back to meet the creator of the genre (subjective, I know, but you can't argue the fact that if it weren't for him the genre wouldn't be what it is today).
Neal Stephenson's Snow Crash is another I would recommend, if you haven't read it, it's an interesting view into how science fiction can influence the world around us (my opinion, but I don't believe I'm the only one with it).
Neuromancer by William Gibson is the last I'm gonna talk about. I found it around the same time I found Snow Crash, so they tend to blend together for me... but this book, along the lines of Snow Crash, seemed to influence how the world and technology has developed (from my limited point of view). This one's a little older, it was published in 1984.
I tend to find an author I like and stick with books from them, so any of the author's I listed above I have probably read more than what I listed. The books I did list are (in my opinion) the best from that author and have influenced me and my outlook on the world the most.
I would agree, but Speaker for the Dead wouldn't be what it was without Ender's Game...
However, I think Ender's Shadow was arguably the best book he wrote in that universe.
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