In no particular order, and painfully incomplete...
The Book of Ebenezer Le Page, G.B. Edwards
"Sing, Christine, sing! Be not bitter, as Lot's wife was. Forgive them, forgive them: for they have loved much!...I wish I could live my life again. I wish I could write my story again. I have judged people. I do not want to judge people. I want to bless."
Edwards taught me how to love, and thus how to die.
Landscape and Memory, Simon Schama
I had no idea what this was about when I first read it, but I knew I'd found something bigger than myself. It's since become a kind of religious text, and the source of several essays.
Alice in Wonderland & Alice Through the Looking Glass, Lewis Carroll
The mysterious horrors of the adult world as experienced by a child. Tim Burton & Disney be damned.
Moby Dick, or, The Whale, Herman Melville
Much better than its reputation. A spiritual allegory of America, a paean to idealistic lunacy, a philosophical depth charge, and, above all, my main peep, Bulkington. "Up! Straight up, leaps thy apotheosis!"
Mrs. Dalloway, Virginia Woolf
The first book to demand everything of me. My mind had to be awake enough to follow the onward rush of language, yet asleep enough to ride the waves. The ending is positively stunning.
Stuart Little, E.B. White
Stuart is a mouse born into a human family. Not adopted: born. White offers no explanations, and none are needed. It is a simple matter of faith and joy in a magical world. To this day, I wake up at night and hear the little plink, plink of Stuart's mighty hammer as he turns on the faucet to brush his teeth. He was awfully alone, really...
The Odyssey, Homer
The only classical Greek hero whom the gods actually liked for being intelligent. When he had himself tied to the mast so he could hear the Sirens sing, I was smitten. Plus, Penelope and Calypso gave me my first Feminist stirrings. I like The Odyssey so much that now I even drive one:
The Pickwick Papers, Charles Dickens
Sam Weller is my hero. (I think I was Cockney in a previous life.)
Rats, Lice, and History, Hans Zinsser
A supposed history of typhus, written in 1934, from one of the most famous textbook writers of all time (now dead, alas). But he never seems to get around to it, instead writing passages like this:
"Man and the rat are merely, so far, the most successful animals of prey. They are utterly destructive of other forms of life. Neither of them is of the slightest earthly use to any other species of living thing."
Is it science? Who cares!
The Rattle Bag, Seamus Heaney and Ted Hughes
Probably the first book of poems I ever bought of my own free will. Contains Richard Wilbur's translation of A Prayer to Go to Paradise with the Donkeys, by Francis Jammes (a poem I have never been able to read aloud in class without embarrassing myself).
So when do we get to write about the other 100 books we love?