A lot of people on Facebook are doing lists of ten books that influenced them. I haven’t done the 10 books thing because, well, ten. I have no idea how many books I’ve read in my life, but based on the numbers I used to keep back in grade school because the nuns insisted, let’s say I’ve read 3,000 by the time I finished high school (figuring 250/year), and probably averaged about 100 per year for the following 20 years, and then declining numbers for the last few decades – mostly because I raised the bar for _what_ I would read along the way.
I have this deal where I approach every book not just with an open mind, but I strip down to my mental skivvies and engage in vigorous and disturbingly visceral emotional gymnastics for the duration. I intend to become a new man with every book, every friend, every crisis. (Lots of crises, too…)
So while some books stand out – Isaac Asimov opening the door to deep science, Dune and Stranger in a Strange Land having cratered all previous terrain, etc. – it is really the existence of books themselves that matters for me. Yeah, there are probably a thousand or two that have influenced me greatly, but all of them are crammed into my views of the universe. So my truest list of ten is book, book, book, book, book, book, book, book, book, book. And that’s not even the index to my life; I still live in a sea of books, depths unplumbable.