The impact of a book (open thread...)

As I was surfing my various regular web haunts this morning, I ran across an entry at NRO’s The Corner that resonated significantly with me. John J. Miller cites a couple of reader inputs to a blurb about Bruce Catton’s classic “Golden Book of the Civil War“. This reference sent me back, as that book was probably THE thing that triggered my interest in the Civil War as a kid, and it fostered a life-long interest in the subject. That Catton book was, and remains, an absolute masterpiece.

Then, as I pondered the impact that that book had on me, and obviously on others, it made me think: what books have had a similarly profound impact on my life? I often joke around with my wife that “everything I ever needed to know, I learned from the Hardy Boys.”  That series provided me much entertainment and quite a bit of knowledge of history and geography. For example, when I was in elementary school I learned quite a bit about the country of Iceland by reading “The Arctic Patrol Mystery,” and about Canada and Vikings from “The Viking Symbol Mystery”. Now those weren’t profound, but they were certainly indicative of what a book or books can do to shape one’s mind.

Most Christians would cite the Bible as the book that has provided the most profound impact in their lives, and they would undoubtedly be correct…certainly, it has been true for me. Recently, Ayn Rand’s “Atlas Shrugged” has been cited as an influential work by many, considering the current political environment. And I’ve heard many talk of Hayek’s “Road to Serfdom” (which is sitting here next to me on my desk) as a key read.

So, I submit this as an open thread for the day – what book has provided a profound influence on your life, thought, etc? I am particularly interested in what we read as young adults or children that had a lasting influence. My sons are in high school and college, so it’s a bit late for them – but we read to them constantly when they were little (my best memories are of reading them C.S. Lewis’ “Chronicles of Narnia” series), so I’m hoping that somewhere along the line we provided them a book that had a life-long impact on their thinking.

What say you?