I've really enjoyed this meme that's gotten popular lately. I love seeing what books have meant the most to people. It's especially fun when we share influential books.
Here are my five most influential books:
1. Babysitter's Club #17: Mary Anne's Bad Luck Mystery - I borrow my first Babysitter's Club book from a friend when I was in 2nd grade. Prior to that, reading was something I enjoyed, but it was not a driving passion. All it took was one Babysitter's Club book, and I was hooked. Hooked on reading and especially hooked on the Babysitter's Club. I loyally read every single book multiple times - sometimes to the point of falling apart - until I was in 8th grade. Funny enough, this particular book was never one of my favorites. I probably only read it a few times.
The final book in the series came out when I was in college. I bought it and even cried a little at the finale. It symbolized the end of much of my childhood.
2. Harry Potter series - I join a lot of respondents to this meme by listing the Harry Potter series as one of the most influential books they've read (technically, seven books, but you have to take the series as a whole). I started this series in the summer of 2000 when I was working for Barnes & Noble. I was able to borrow the hardcovers from the store. I was reluctant to read them, since I was an avowed fantasy hater, but it was becoming a phenomenon, and the fourth book was about to be released. I read all three of the published books quite quickly. I enjoyed all of them, but the third book was the one that really wowed me and made me an obsessive Potter fan. I haven't looked back. In fact, I read the entire series every fall (I need to get started).
3. Twilight - This is a controversial choice, but I'm far from the only person listing it. Like Harry Potter, Twilight was a genre gateway book for me. I'd never read any vampire books or paranormal romance. One can argue (justifiably) that Twilight is not the best representative of its genre. However, when I read it, everything felt new. I fell in love with the story, the characters, and especially the mythological world-building. Even if people make fun of Stephenie's vampires for sparkling, I still think the mythology is fascinating and one of the best vampire creations of any that I've read - even if it doesn't stick to established vampirical canon. I don't have the obsessive love for the series that I once did, but it will always be a fond part of my life.
4. The Agenda by Bob Woodward - This is an unusual choice. I read this book when I was 13, mostly out of boredom. It's about the early days of the Clinton White House. After reading this book, I became obsessed with politics. I read and watched everything I could about politics. I interned for my local Congressman in high school. It influenced my major in college. A love of politics was a huge part of my early life. Unfortunately, I think my interest peaked too early. Now, I hate all politicians uniformly and am not nearly as aware of things as I used to be. Part of this is because I don't feel invested in Montana, so I don't pay attention to local news and elections (although I did vote). But mostly, it's a general apathy.
5. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen - A hard choice for my last one. Is this really an influential book or is it just one I love? I'm not sure. Probably mostly the latter. I first read this book in high school. I thought it was okay at the time, but all my classmates hated it. Their opinions influenced mine, and I did not have a good impression of the book. In my early twenties, I decided to re-read it since I knew so many people loved it. This time, I adored it. I don't know if it was because I was older or because I had positive peer pressure. Either way, it is now one of my favorite books. A good reminder that one's opinion of a book can change over time. Also, a reminder that classic books can feel just as fresh and fun as modern books.