The list author says: "For me, a great book 1. has a major statement to make, the result of an inspired vision born of intellectual curiosity and passion. 2. has stylistic confidence and assurance, a distinctive style; if it's not a page-turner, it's because you want to linger over each page. 3. invites, even demands, re-reading, and reveals more with each reading, like an interesting person; indeed it becomes an important "friend" in your life and may influence or change you.
I make no attempt to rank these books according to best, second best, etc., since they are too individual to be compared. Some are quite famous; others are virtually unknown. I don't privilege fiction over nonfiction or in-stock over out-of-print. They are just books I was lucky enough to encounter, often by chance. They are listed in alphabetical order by author."