I would say that a few books stand out for me:
1. The Count of Monte Cristo
Bought for me by my mother, who had grown weary of the "fluffy" fiction I had been reading as a young adolescent, the Count gripped my soul as I read of the fateful way the world of that novel worked. While reading, I grew passionate, angry, excited, manic for justice to be served!!! Without a doubt, the Count prepared the way for me as I plowed through mounds of literature in my undergrad, where one of my majors was English Lit.
2. Anne of Green Gables
A Canadian classic, Anne-with-an-e was introduced to me during a daily read-aloud after recess by my Grade 6 teacher. I fell in love with this creative problem child, relating well to her frequent heights of ecstasy and depths of despair. And when I got older, I read the rest of the series, and even bought a house in PEI, less than an hour's drive from the house where Lucy Maud Montgomery was inspired to create Anne!!!
3. The Very Hungry Caterpillar
The colour and different sized pages of this book really appealed to me visually. It was something different from the ordinary. And yet the structure and predictability was so very soothing... and perhaps provided the framework for my own tendency towards structure.
4. This Can't Be Happening at MacDonald Hall
Gordan Korman's pokerfaced sense of humour got me through some of the most challenging years of my late childhood, and well into high school I was still enjoying the antics of Bruno and Boots, Drummer Bugs Potter, and various other characters from diverse novels of his. (On a personal note, the letters collected from Korman over a five year fan-mail relationship initiated after I wrote my grade 7 speech on this author still fill a blue wooden box at the bottom of my bedroom closet in PEI!)
The misadventures of this divergent thinker form part of my earliest recollection of being read aloud to... 11th Street Library in New Toronto... the children's librarian with the perfect hair, who could read the words and show the pictures in a book at the same time... wow! And now I would make her proud with my very own read-aloud skills in a classroom. Hehe.
Ahhhh, so many other delightful books form part of my own textual lineage. I realise, as I reflect, that it was not only the books, but the people who introduced them to me, and the context in which I read them that made/make them so powerful to me... Lauren Hill's Book of Negroes, Pride and Prejudice, the Kite Runner, Prisoner of Tehran, and so many others in adulthood and countless picturebooks and stories in childhood -- Kipling's the Jungle Book, and the Gift of the Magii.... The poetry of Langston Hughes and Gerard Manley Hopkins, introducing me to culture and God respectively in subtle ways I did not yet appreciate upon first reading while I savoured the sound of the words strung together on the white pages of my Norton anthology my first year of university... Ooooh, how blessed I am to have such a rich textual lineage!