Little Women. Damn Louisa May Alcott for not getting the Jo/Laurie plot right. But, part of LW's appeal is that it has this problematic ending that girls have re-written generation after generation. If it had been done properly, the book probably would have passed into obscurity. I feel like I'm in good company. Very Important Feminist philosopher Simone de Beauvoir wrote that "the relationship between Jo and Laurie touched me to the heart. Later, I had no doubt, they would marry one another; so it was possible for maturity to bring the promises made in childhood to fruition instead of denying them: this thought filled me with renewed hope." She re-read and re-read, hoping the ending might change. Realizing how stubborn text can sometimes be (as I did), she re-wrote the ending (also, sadly enough, as I did). Alcott's ending to LW is part of its continuing appeal, regardless of how much it continues to piss me off.
Gone With the Wind. Obviously, this post is primarily about LW because I just watched it, reread the end, and am upset at LMA again. But GWTW is pretty great. I read it for the first time in 7th grade. It was worth 36 AR points! Totally wrote fan-fiction about this one, too. I also carried around a big binder of GWTW "facts" and interesting information. I am still known in some quarters as "the Gone With the Wind girl."
Anne of Green Gables. I reread this series every spring break. Well, not the whole series. I always stopped after Anne of the Island, the third one, after she got engaged to Gilbert. What was the point after that, really?
Harry Potter series. Man, am I ever grateful to Mrs. Terry and UIL Lit Crit for this one. I would never, ever have thought to pick up HP. Can you believe I used to root for Harry and Hermione? Ew. Totally Ron/Hermione and Harry Ginny. But unlike with, say, Anne, this is not primarily about the romance plot (though Anne is wonderful, regardless of Gilbert). Harry Potter just plain rocks my socks off. I've gone to every midnight release (book and movie) since book 5 and movie 2 and I intend to go to the next (and last!!) book, whenever it gets here.
Pride and Prejudice. I only ever started to like Jane Austen because Laurence Olivier, who was married to Vivien Leigh (until that horrible, horrible person Joan Plowright broke them up), who played Scarlett O'Hara in GWTW, was in the (horrible, completely unlike the actual book) 1940 version of the movie. But, that led me to the book, which led to to all the other Jane Austen books (and movies), which, sadly enough, led me to not only fan-fiction but fan-poetry.
Mary, Queen of Scotland and the Isles. I ran across this one in Ms. Schneider's 10th grade world geography classroom. It was on the shelf, I picked up one day, and Ms. S said I could take it home. I was hooked. I became obsessed with British royalty. I once, I kid you not, had a mapped out genealogy of all the royal families of Europe, poster size, on my wall. Most importantly, my engagement with the story of Mary Stuart began my severe hatred of the murderous Elizabeth I of England, who even surpasses Joan Plowright on my, if I were Stephen Colbert, "dead to me" list.
Other important, though far less influential, fiction books:
--To Kill a Mockingbird
--The Secret Garden
--A Little Princess
--The Chronicles of Narnia