Less than Zero. I read this at fourteen. If anyone had paid attention, I probably shouldn't have, but I did. I loved the bleakness of this book. The language, the despair, the cocaine. It was confirmation of what I thought might be true about LA. That it was sunshine on the outside, and something dark and damp right under the surface, black and bottomless. I had been to southern California, had been to Hollywood even as a little girl, and felt it then, the pull of something terrible. There was the repetition of the phrase Disappear Here. The cars and pools and repeated TV screens. And tragic, doomed Julian.
Written on the Body. So sly and so beautiful. I think I read this at about nineteen, some summer in between college semesters. This book made me want to write. It made me want to write about love, and about the body, in small, beautiful, crushing ways.
Really, every book shapes you. Every book becomes what you want it to be for you. The magic of these books was the language, the emotion, the revelation, finally, of what it means to be, not just human, but a separate bubble, colliding, like Pynchon's kiss of cosmic pool balls.