On the Road by Jack Kerouac (Penguin, $17). My teenage years were soaked in Kerouac. My father had been on a trip to America and brought me back a whole library of the Beat generation. It all seemed so wonderfully foreign to a young Dublin boy. I wanted to go on a road trip with Neal Cassady. The expanse of the American West became implanted in my imagination.
Lord of the Flies by William Golding (Perigee, $10). This book is perfect for a teenager stepping into the literary experience. It's extraordinarily rich and brimming with symbolism, yet quite accessible. While stepping through the island, I was part Ralph, part Piggy, part Simon. I haven't returned to it as an adult because I'm afraid I would not like it as much, or that its meaning would be duller now.
The Tokyo-Montana Express by Richard Brautigan (out of print). This book cleaved me open when I was 17. I had no idea that the literary form could be so raucous and experimental. It was a whole new way of storytelling.
Fear of Flying by Erica Jong (Signet, $8). Confession time: I used to borrow my father's copy of this 1973 novel from his nightstand! I would search for the naughty parts, which were many and varied. I wonder if I would think them quite as salacious now.
Peig by Peig Sayers (Oxford, $11). Every teenager in Ireland had to read this Irish-language book about a rural seanchaí, or storyteller. The very mention of the book still induces groans among adults, but that's because it was, unfortunately, force-fed to us by our teachers.
The Collected Stories by Dylan Thomas (New Directions, $17). Dylan Thomas was a hero to me from an early age, and I adored his experimental short stories. The language was so rich and dark and playful. It mesmerized me. I still go back to Thomas's poems regularly, but I haven't gone back to the stories because I fear that I would see them differently. Every now and then we need to freeze ourselves in a sort of literary aspic.
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- How to be the most productive person in your office — and still get home by 5:30 p.m.
- 43 TV shows to watch in 2014
- 10 things you need to know today: October 2, 2014
- Ted Cruz is the new Sarah Palin
- How liberals are unwittingly paving the way for the legalization of adult incest
- Watch out, China — America is working on dogfighting drones
- Why you probably don't have Ebola — even if you shook hands with America's 'patient zero'
- 6 things the happiest families all have in common
- Stop your unpatriotic fearmongering over ISIS
- Why I got married — without a wedding
Subscribe to the Week