Judge Liberty Hardy -- Geek Love by Katherine Dunn

Because even though being yourself is sometimes hard, it's also the greatest gift you can give yourself.

Judge Maris Kreizman -- Anagrams by Lorrie Moore

Anagrams broke apart all my expectations about what a novel could do. As you might guess from the book's title, Anagrams presents many different versions of its wonderfully flawed heroine, and maintains a delicate balance between funny and sad.

Judge Morgan Jerkins -- The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz

Junot Diaz's witty style of writing revolutionized the way that I thought about what makes writing beautiful and acceptable in front of mainstream audiences. I had to unlearn that dialect made a story any less elegant and moving.

Judge Nina Sankovitch -- Burger's Daughter by Nadine Gordimer

Nadine Gordimer's Burger's Daughter has been significant for me because no matter when I have read it, it has given me backbone (and I've read it five or six times over the past thirty-three years). Gordimer teaches us, again and again, that what we do with our life matters. She also describes southern France in a way that is so right and so perfect: every time I read her words, I am transported back to the small town in Southern France where I first realized the import of my parents' story, as immigrants to the United States - which also connects directly to Gordimer's themes of identity and duty.

Judge Patrik Henry Bass -- Beloved by Toni Morrison

It's my favorite novel & a masterpiece of history, creativity, and emotion.


Jay aka #sensitivejay -- Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison

"A book I encountered for the first time in high school, and twice in college, and each time was astounded/expanded by Ellison's command of idiom and symbolism, his urgent mythmaking, his insights on race and violence. And the fact that his only finished novel was this novel--well, that always has made it feel like an oracular text."

Jenny -- Wild by Cheryl Strayed

When I read this memoir I was 29, $150K in debt, living at my mom's (in my childhood bedroom), and on the other side of a painful breakup. While the details of our stories are different, Cheryl's honesty about putting one foot in front of the other to get yourself to the other side of something was exactly what I needed.

Liza aka #lazerliza -- The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls

This book taught me about unconditional love. Jeannette's ability to walk away from her damaging childhood experiences with love and forgiveness for her parents is a form of resilience I can't help but admire.

Christine -- The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz

A book that was significant to me was The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz. This was a life-changer for me as it shifted my perspective on dealing with conflict and difficult personalities and it has ultimately brought me peace and a deeper understanding of myself and how I can fit into the scheme of things.

Sophia -- Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling

I will always love the 4th Harry Potter book, The Goblet of Fire, more than any other book i'll ever read. It was the first time I went to a midnightbook release party and will never forget the energy in Barnes & Noble of myself and so many other Potter Heads who couldn't wait to devour this magical literature.

Blake -- Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke

It is the longest book i have ever read, and it is a magical book that takes place in a historical place so similar to our own that it is almost believable.

Jarry -- Animal Dreams by Barbara Kingsolver

Animal Dreams was the book that made me want to write -- I read it early on in high school and marveled that prose could flow as beautifully as poetry.