I don't join in a lot with memes, but this is something I've been thinking about today so I thought I'd share and it would be interesting for me if anyone else reading this felt like paying it forward...
There are a few books that you read and one way or another become a part of what you do or how you do it. Here by way of a Top 5 type list are mine:
The Chronicles Of Prydein - Lloyd Alexander
Beautiful, warm-hearted and funny, these books are also full of wisdom and insight. The character of Llonio, the luckiest man in the world, has really informed my outlook on life.
Slaughterhouse 5 - Kurt Vonnegut
We get very badly caught up in the idea of time and how we deal with it. It may even be at the core of the human experience. This book is an exploration of that and it has helped me to think about things in a less linear way. The idea I have that the past and future are not very far away and that the past still exists and is still utterly real is a big part of how I deal with loss.
Life Lessons From A Ranch Horse - Mark Rashid
Anything promising you life lessons sounds pretty dodgy, but you really can't go wrong with Mark Rashid's books- no matter how much he has to teach he always sugars the pill with interesting stories and a self deprecating manner that gives no indication of just how good he is at what he does. I could also have picked Horsemanship Through Life from him as both had a lot to say to me, but this one has really helped me in my attitude to problems and to dealing with life in general.
The Pragmatic Programmer - Andy Hunt and Dave Thomas
Made me realise that what I do is a craft, and that I actually do it pretty well and can be pleased with my craftsmanship. It's something that I found at around the right time- probably about five years into my career as a programmer, just when I was ready for it.
True Horsemanship Through Feel - Bill Dorrance and Lesley Desmond
There is so much to love about this book- so much of the way I write, speak and think is heavily informed by the understated diplomacy of Bill Dorrance's words as transcribed by Lesley Desmond. He'll say something like "something unexpected might happen to a feller who did things that way" and you know that most people would think of it as a whole lot more than "something unexpected" happening. I've never heard him speak, but his voice on the page has been absolutely influential to me. And that's before you even get to the content, which is the most complete book on horsemanship as I'm coming to understand it by a long way.
I bet I think of a whole lot of other ones later, but right now those are the five that crossed my mind. I'm interested that they aren't necessarily my favourite books by any means, and at least three of them I only read in the last five years, but they have all had a clear effect on who I am.