1. Catcher In the Rye. Yeah, yeah, yeah...very angsty and stereotypical. Shutup, ya phony. I read this book once a year. Mr. Salinger, or J.D. as his friend called him, is my favorite writer of all time. He writes like people think or speak, which is how I write as well. This is the one book I read in high school and it has stuck with me ever since. I love my beaten up old dog-eared copy. It helps remind me I'm not the only one who is crazy and dislikes most other people.
2. White Apples. by Jonathan Carroll. This book single-handedly changed my outlook on life and death. It is an absolute masterpiece. I was never a spiritual person, but this made me one. It has a way of making you look at every day as a piece of a whole and to realize everything you do matters both to you and everyone else. Jonathan Carroll is a beautiful writer. I also like him because he's fallible. I've read about five of his books and three weren't good (though still beautifully written and creative, they just struggled to form a coherent path) but two were outstanding (the other is called Glass Soup). I like when I can see a writer struggling to find the story every once and a while. It helps me relate to them as people instead of this person who's able to write a book when I can't. If I had to suggest one book in the world to others, it would be White Apples.
3. Hearts in Atlantis. by Stephen King. Please ignore the terrible movie that was made based on the book for the purposes of this entry. This isn't a typical Stephen King book. It's not creepy or scary or exceptionally weird. It is still fantasy, it's Stephen King after all, but it's more worldly. It centers around the sixties and the Vietnam war and involves several stories intertwined into one narrative. Plus, I love the sixties...in fact, I wish I was how old I am now, in the sixties. This book is incredible though. Go read it.
Prosser on Torts Angela's Ashes. by Frank McCourt. Did you really not think this was going to happen? This is an autobiographical story about a poor Irish family who moved to New York City from Limerick, Ireland. I mean...c'mon! It is full of sadness and dark, Irish humor. It was meant for micks like me. I read it while in Ireland, in particular, while in Limerick. I remember walking down the River Shannon and picturing it as a sad reminder of the horrors these poor Irish folk had to deal with. It was quite the connection. And then I went to a Pub and felt better (I was 15).