An only child till age 5 1/2, I was the beneficiary of having been regularly read to, by my four grandparents and father. I will ever be grateful for the love of books they left to me, as their lasting legacy.
Here are those I cherished most, at particular points in life:
Age 5: Just So Stories ~Rudyard Kipling~ The exotic made as familiar and comfortable as my well-worn, teddy bear…
Age 10: Alice in Wonderland ~Lewis Carroll~ No more absurd than reality and a LOT more fun!
Age 13: The Jungle ~Upton Sinclair~ simultaneously appalling, repellent and engrossing account of one immigrant, meatpacking family in turn-of-the 20th. Century, Chicago. This was the first book I choose to read and was not "assigned."
Age 16: Black Like Me ~John Howard Griffin~ one white author's account of his transformative life-experience during six-weeks of traveling through the segregated South in 1960, after being chemically changed to pass as a Southern "black" man. This book literally stunned me...as a Midwest teen, I knew little of the intensity of racial hatred still present in that time and setting.
Age 18: The Feminine Mystique ~Betty Friedan~ an exploration mid-20th century women’s unhappiness as “the problem that has no name.” Friedan explained that in post-World War II United States life, women were encouraged to be wives, mothers and homemakers - and only wives, mothers and homemakers - writing in the first pages of her book, that housewives were beginning to ask themselves, “Is that all?” At this age, I discovered that no other author had so opened my eyes to alternate world-views or possibilities.
Age 22: Listen to the Warm and Stanyan Street and Other Sorrows ~Rod McKuen~ exquisitely evocative poetry, contemporary to the times
Age 30: The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings Trilogy ~J.R.R. Tolkien~ Bilbo and Frodo and Gollum, Oh, My! What a literary TRIP!!!!
Age40: Aztec ~Gary Jennings~ the systematic, brutal dismantling of an entire advanced society in the name of "salvation" (I believe this one most affected me...emotionally, spiritually, intellectually and permanently)
Age 50: Bicentennial Series Kent Family Chronicals ~John Jakes~ 8 novels, spanning one family's interaction with events in American history, fom just before the Revolutionary War through 1890. STRONG heroines, those Kent women!)
Age 60: Brain Droppings ~George Carlin~ THE master of the word and the absurd (his creative utilization of the language enhanced his comedy exponentially, in my opinion)
So, that's my short list, so far...What is yours?