Below is a list of books that changed me. That upsided me on the head in the most wonderful way, that said, hey, words? They are magic. They will transform you. Take you places you never thought you would. Make you think. Make you cry. Make you grow up. Make you care.
Jane Austen: all her books, ALL of them.
John Fowles: The Magus and The French Lieutenant's Woman.
Charlotte Bronte: Jane Eyre.
Ernest Hemingway: For Whom the Bells Tolls (I know it's not his best but there are passages that make me cry at their sheer brilliance).
F. Scott Fitzgerald: Tender is the Night (could anyone create a more lyrical sentence? I don't think so).
J. K. Rowling: the Harry Potter series (not that these books aren't terribly flawed, but I've made so many friends from this world that, yes, this series changed my life).
Ford Madox Ford: The Good Soldier (what a fascinating book).
J. R. R. Tolkien: The Lord of the Rings trilogy (no explanation needed).
Calvin Trillin: About Alice (because, wow, what a lovely marriage).
Raymond Chandler: ALL of his works. The man had a way with metaphor and simile that I think is really unparalleled
Dashiell Hammet: ALL of his novels (although I have to admit the The Maltese Falcon is perhaps the most perfect piece of crime fiction ever written. Except for, perhaps, The Long Goodbye, which is a debate I have with myself constantly. Which is better?)
Vera Caspary: Laura (because, really, a novel with three distinct POV's and so well written, never a slip in voice).
Dorothy L. Sayers: Gaudy Night, because I am basically Harriet Vane and there is no man in fiction that I'd rather be married to (and that includes Mr. Darcy). Plus, wow, really smart plots, Dorothy!
Truman Capote: I love his short stories more than his novels, so The Dogs Bark and The Muses Are Heard make this list, although I do love his writing in general.
Gore Vidal: This is problematic for me because I despise his comments regarding the Polanski affair and am not feeling very charitable toward him these days, but his historical series starting with Burr is truly amazing. If you want to understand the U.S., read this series.
So these are my favorites. Yours?