Now, this is a very difficult task and I'm sure I'm going to miss something, but here goes...
1. Catcher in the Rye
This is by far, the best book I have ever read. I feel so connected to Holden, it's scary. His principles get him in trouble, and despite hating many aspects of life, he also appreciates the beauty to such an extent that it really makes you want to break down and cry.
2. Notes from Underground
I cannot believe how dark and tortured the main character in this short-story is. If anything, this book has taught me what the extreme side of depression and loathing is like, and is a constant reminder to me that one must find a place in the world despite hating aspects of it.
3. The Great Gatsby
While on the whole, not my favourite novel... the lesson learned with "the green light" will forever be affixed in the back of my brain. Some things are MEANT to be looked at from afar, but never obtained. I think that lesson applies to so many things, and could end up being the downfall of mankind. Note that on the whole, "The Last Tycoon" may have eclipsed "The Great Gastby" had Fitzgerald not passed away before its completion.
4. Doctor Zhivago
I believe Zhivago's search for self, purpose and a harmony with nature resounds in my soul.
The more I think about this novel, the more I like it (my gf hates the concept to an infinite degree). I cannot believe how amazing Nabokov is as a writer. Once you get past the subject matter, I would urge you to give this novel a shot.
This is the only novel I have EVER thrown accross the room. Winston, nooooooooooo! Notwithstanding societal foreshaddowing, this novel is a constant reminder that all men have a breaking point, and that there will always be someone who finds it.
7. For Whom the Bell Tolls
Hemingway says so much, but it never seems like he is trying. A master chess player that makes me fall in love with all of his characters. "Old Man in the Sea" was touching as well, and I would be tempted to include "The Snows of Kilamanjaro" (short story) on this list as well.
8. The World According To Garp
In the World According to Garp, we are all terminal cases. I remember this book being so touching and obscure, but I cannot remember if I liked "A Prayer for Owen Meany" more, which was by far the most hilarious book I have ever read. Hard not to fall in love with Owen.
9. Of Mice and Men
Society's fear and contempt for something it doesn't understand, is a common theme in many works, but here it hits home best. How can you not feel for someone with so much love and so little guidance. His best friend's task at the end breaks my heart.
10. The Hobbit
I have to include this. The Hobbit taught me that there was magic in the written word. Couple this with the young-adult series "The Dark is Rising", and I was hooked.
The Alchemist, Paulo Coelho
Henderson the Rain King, Saul Bellow
Darkness at Noon, Arthur Koestler
Tess of D'Ubervilles, Thomas Hardy
To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee
The Grapes of Wrath, John Steinbeck
As I Lay Dying, William Faulkner