Here’s a list of books that made an impression on me. You might want to prevent your kids from reading them and becoming Mac users (or not):
- The City and the Mountains, by Eça de Queirós. Obviously, I read it in Portuguese at a very early age, and it became the cornerstone of my attitude towards technology in general (i.e., that it isn’t worth it for its own sake).
- Glide Path, by Arthur C. Clarke. No monoliths, no aliens, only WWII and the development of radar. It was actually the first book I ever read by him.
- All Things Great And Small, by James Herriott – thanks to this and My Family And Other Animals, by Gerald Durrell, I seriously considered becoming a vet at one point.
- The Door Into Summer – my all-time favorite from all the Heinlein books. Maybe I’m just a sucker for Cats, but the portrayal of Pete’s stubbornness is simply precious.
- The Stars My Destination, by Alfred Bester. I was floored when I read it the first time, and go back to it with a sense of wonder time and time again.
- LOTR, by J.R.R. Tolkien – Obviously made an impact, but never to the point of my bothering to learn how to read runes and other suchlike nonsense.
- The Hitch-Hiker’s Guide To The Galaxy, by Douglas Adams – the book that smashed my brains out like a slice of lemon wrapped round a large gold brick, and the main reason I developed a somewhat cynical and flippant writing style. I still have the Pan paperback, and will treasure it always.
- Neuromancer, by William Gibson – tech made tough, fast, nearly palpable. The book that made it plain to me that the Internet (despite not actually being there at the time – it was 1985 when I read it) would be the thing.
- Dune, by Frank Herbert – another paperback I treasure, and the sort of Sci-Fi that expands your mind. His son James has attempted to follow in his footsteps, but somehow it isn’t the same.
- Cryptonomicon, by Neal Stephenson – The book of our age.
There are plenty others by Gaiman, Hemingway, Vonnegut (and increasingly more by “mainstream” writers), but if I had to make a shortlist, this would be it.