FIVE BOOKS THAT HAVE MOST SHAPED ME INTO THE PERSON I AM TODAY

This took some digging through the ol' mind-brain, but here is a solid compilation. (The cover images are from the editions I first owned, not necessarily originals)
  1. The Hobbit - J. R. R. Tolkien
    The first book I actually read. I was five and read it out loud with my mother. Every 3 sentences or so I'd hit a word/name I didn't know and she would help me, but by about 1/3 of the way through, I was sounding them out on my own. This definitely kick dropped my love of reading into the stratosphere, and it all took place while my grandfather was dying (so, at St. Joe's in Burbank). These are some of the first concrete memories I have, and as such are incredibly valuable.
  2. The Golden Compass - Philip Pullman
    To clarify: we're talking books that most influenced the making of me. Something about the daemon-human bond really nailed it, and any sort of tampering elicited a visceral reaction. That was the first time I remember really getting into cognitive thought about souls: mind/body/soul, where does one begin and the other end? Are you one of the above with the other two attached, or is it a blend? Is it all you, or do those people you care for factor into your soul? Would you hurt if they were hurt?
  3. The Scarlet Pimpernel - Baroness Emmuska Orczy
    Saw the musical when I was 13, read the book when I was 14. I identified so deeply with Marguerite that her conflicted love story hit me in a way that wouldn't normally have resonated with a young woman who had never been in love. She showed me what love was, and the lengths one will go to protect the object of that love. This book about men is told (almost entirely) from the perspective of a strong woman - notorious on both sides of the Channel for her intellect and razor sharp wit.
  4. The Scarlet Pimpernel (cont.)
    I wrote a 20 page essay on this book and have read it so many times that it's falling apart. It's been with me in the Korean spa whirlpools. Her love makes me ache. And she is THE MOST HARDCORE BADASS BITCH who will do whatever it takes (with dogged ferocity) to save her lover and her family; at great personal peril. And she looks fucking good doing it, too.
  5. The Time Traveler's Wife - Audrey Niffenegger
    I know. I KNOW I KNOW I KNOW. Don't be mad. Again, these aren't my favorite books, just the Anna-human shaping books. I first read this while I was in the middle of my first love. I devolved into hysteria during a couple parts near the end. I know it's... Fuck it, I love this book and I maintain that it is well-written and well conceived. After we broke up, I read it again and it crushed me. Don't judge me, I love this stupid fucking book *ugly cries loudly in a corner 😖*
  6. The Teachings of Don Juan - Carlos Castaneda
    This sent me on my spiritual journey in a way that shrooms and Phish hadn't yet accomplished. To me (at that age), it read as a guidebook: a "how-to" for the quest for enlightenment through self-exploration. From there, I got into Reiki and soul-retrieval. It all unlocked like being given the corner pieces to a difficult puzzle. And while I have miles and miles left to go, if it weren't for this book, I wouldn't even have hit the road.