I think the books we love say something about who we are as well as what we like to read. I play a game with student groups called "Keepers" where the kids write down the titles of three of their keepers on a piece of paper and then drop them in a hat. I draw the slips and try to guess which keepers belong to which kid (which is harder than it sounds.) If I guess correctly, the hat goes to the kid whose keepers I guessed, and they start guessing until they match someone with their keepers. This is a lot of fun to do with fellow writers, too, if you're looking for an idea for your next chapter meeting.
Today I'd like to do a spin on this game, and invite everyone to list in comments three keepers in your collection that you think illustrate something about who you are as a writer or a reader (and you don't have to explain them if you'd rather not.)
I'll go first:
1. e.e. cummings Complete Poems 1904-1962 edited by George J. Firmage
e.e. cummings and I have a very weird artistic connection; his poetry bailed me out of a couple thousand bad moments in my writing life. I think he's the only poet I've ever read who writes as contrary and subversive as I feel.
2. Life in Biblical Israel by Philip J. King and Lawrence E. Stager
My wubby book; the one I read when I want to remind myself of where I've been/where I am/where I'm going. A brilliant, flawless, compassionate, detailed, accurate history of people living in interesting times -- all the good things I love and love to write are wrapped up in this one.
3. Genetics manual ~ Current Theory, Concepts, Terms by George P. Rédei
This one is more of a textbook, and an outdated one at that, but meticulously written and organized, and utterly ruthless about the topic. This book illustrates the great extremes of our species' character, and how easy it can be to let your focus blind you. Like me, kind of a cautionary tale.
So what are your three keepers?