Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
The impact: "Made me want to become a writer. The writing was so powerful to me, I basically just decided I wanted to become a writer. I then spent three years writing a book that pretty much sounded like Charlotte Bronte, only a lot worse. No one wanted to buy it. But I stuck with the writing thing. I still haven’t written the Jane Eyre equivalent, but maybe one day."
Fool on the Hill by Matt Ruff
The impact: "It taught me that fiction doesn’t have to adhere to traditional, realistic structure to ring true to life. It also changed the way I view the world. Not to be cheesy, but it made me constantly aware of the millions of stories taking place around us daily."
The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand
The impact: "It was years ago, and I was sort of lost and lonely, and Howard Rourke basically said to me, 'Do you, baby girl. Do you.'"
The Road Less Traveled by M. Scott Peck
The impact: "Turned so much of the way I think about life on its head. He redefines love and work, writes about the tremendous effect our parents’ style of raising us has on our personalities and mental health, and delves into human psychology and even God in ways you probably have never thought of. His ideas at the time were extremely revolutionary -- and still are today. There’s a reason that book was so influential and was on practically every parent’s nightstand when it came out in the '70s/'80s. My mom passed it on to me some years ago and I still consult it sometimes."
Master Your Metabolism by Jillian Michaels
The impact: "It really changed my life. The book addresses just how much our diet choices affect our hormones and weight. Much like Food, Inc., it clued me into making the wiser food and lifestyle choices (no more high-fructose, soy protein, Splenda) that would optimize wellness."
The Language of Letting Go by Melody Beattie
The impact: "It’s a book of daily readings, one for each day of the year from January to December, designed for co-dependents, but you don’t have to be one to find meaning and relevance in each of the passages. What I love about it is the readings aren't new agey, touchy-feely, Stewart Smalley crap. It’s a lot more grounded than that. You don’t have to read it sequentially. I pick it up and flip to one of the pages when I’m having a bad day and need it. It's based on the 12 steps idea, so there is a 'higher power' involved here, but to me that is the reassuring part -- that you aren't in this alone. God or whatever you believe in has a plan for you and it’s incredible, all you have to do is trust and follow the path and you will get there."
Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James
The impact: "Call me sheltered, but this totally changed the way I see sex. Heck, it's changed the way women everywhere see sex. And I think that's a good thing."