1-3. Infinite Jest, A Supposedly Fun thing I'll Never Do Again, and Consider the Lobster (David Foster Wallace) DFW is a big part of my literary life. He has profoundly changed how I see complexity fitting into everyday life, how I relate to people struggling with addition, how media influences our creative imagination, the danger of emotional complacency, and so much more. I quote his essay in Consider the Lobster, On Authority and American Usage about the politics of language at least once a week.
4. Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs (Chuck Klosterman) While I grew up loving to read, this book was the first time I read contemporary non-fiction that felt like a cooler version of the way I talk and see the world. It really inspired me to write and choose books that hit closer to home, emotionally.
5-6. Harry Potters (JK Rowling) and A Little Princess (Frances Hodgson Burnett) These ones I love because of childhood attachment. Their crumbling binding reminds me of my mom and all the times I read them growing up.
7. White Trash (Nancy Isenberg) My current book. It's pretty mind blowing.
8. Mountains beyond Mountains (Tracy Kidder) The life of Dr. Paul Farmer has defined the kind of activism I want to pursue in my career. His subsequent writings have really solidified my approaches to participatory community design and health activism.
9-10. Interpreter of Maladies (Jhumpa Lahiri) and On Beauty (Zadie Smith) These are very different books, but I read them close together and they were both key to a broadening of my personal cultural perspective. I grew up in homogeneously white rural Ohio, and these books really changed how I began to relate to the experiences of people different than myself. They set me down a path to study Anthropology in undergrad.