Don’t take too long to think about it. Fifteen books you’ve read that will always stick with you. First 15 you can recall in no more than 15 minutes.So here goes:
1. Red Planet by Robert A. Heinlein. Back in elementary school this book got me hooked on science fiction, a genre that's turned into a lifelong love. I loved all of Heinein's "juveniles" (Have Spacesuit, Will Travel; The Rolling Stones; Rocketship Galileo . . . ) and most of his adult books -- until he went off the deep end into dirty old man senility with the last two or three.
2. A Boy and His Dog, Harlan Ellison. Okay, technically it was first published as a novella, not an actual book, but that's a minor quibble. I'd probably add a couple of Ellison's short story collections, too, because gems like "Shattered like a Glass Goblin" and "Pennies Off a Dead Man's Eyes" are still sticking with me over 30 years after I first read them.
3. The Bell Jar, Sylvia Plath. Along with I Never Promised You a Rose Garden by Hannah Green it was one of the two "must read" books for adolescent females in the late 1960s.
4. The Royal Road to Romance, Richard Halliburton. Halliburton was an adventure traveler in the 1920s. He bummed around the world on tramp steamers and wrote about his experiences in far-off places.
5. War and Peace, Leo Tolstoy. An amazing novel.
6. Jeeves, Jeeves, Jeeves, P. G. Wodehouse. Technically three novels (How Right You Are, Jeeves; Stiff Upper Lip, Jeeves; and Jeeves & The Tie that Binds) but again a minor quibble.
7. A Fine and Private Place, Peter S. Beagle, and
8. I See By My Outfit, Peter S. Beagle. Two early works by a gifted author, #7 is Beagle's first novel, #8 is autobiographical, a description of a cross-country motor scooter trip taken by him and a friend in the early 1960s.
9. Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail, Hunter S. Thompson. No explanation needed.
10. And the Band Played On: Politics, People, and the AIDS Epidemic, Randy Shilts. Examination of the AIDS epidemic and a devastating take-down of the American public health system and the Reagan administration that was quite willing to ignore disease until it became clear heterosexuals and kids could die from it, too.
11. Danny and the Boys, Robert Traver. A fun book by the author of Anatomy of a Murder.
12. The Heavens and the Earth: A Political History of the Space Age, Walter A. MacDougall. There's a reason this one won a Pulitzer for history.
13. Can You Forgive Her?, Anthony Trollope. The first of the Palliser novels, and the one that turned me into a Trollope fan.
14. Two Years Before the Mast, Richard H. Dana. Fascinating true account of two years Dana spent as a common sailor in the 1830s on a ship that sailed from Boston to California.
15. Fatu-Hiva: Back to Nature, Thor Heyerdahl. An account of the year Heyerdahl and his bride spent on Fatu Hiva in the 1930s. Heyerdahl's observations there influenced his scholarship and later work, particularly the Kon-Tiki expedition in 1947.
I think #3 is the only one I have no interest in revisiting. It was memorable at the time, but once was enough.