No seriously. 15 minutes. Another minute of deliberations, and the list would have changed. So here goes:
1. Merchant of Venice - It took me 3 reads to start appreciating this one. And another 3 to be able to say 'To bait fish withal: if it feed nothing else, it will feed my revenge.... The villainy you teach me I will execute, and it shall go hard but I will better the instruction' from memory. And 3 more before my ICSE boards. But if it was not for this one, I may never have been able to appreciate the rest of this list. So numero uno it is, Mr. Bill.
2. Dennis the Menace - 'You can fool some people all the time, and all the people sometime. But you can never fool mom'. Life lessons learnt from pencil boxes, posters and newspaper cuttings. Damn, where did all that go?
3. Asterix - History books were never the same after reading this series.
4. Short stories by O' Henry - Wit. Wordplay. Warmth. And clever twists in the end. Damn, he'd be one hell of a copywriter.
5. Short Stories by Somerset Maugham - This man can inspire you to write. Period.
6. Short Stories by Saki - He taught the rules of English by day. And tried to rewrite those very rules at night. Uber cool!
7. Calvin & Hobbes - “We're so busy watching out for what's just ahead of us that we don't take time to enjoy where we are.” Yes, it took a 6-year old to teach me that one. What a philosopher, I say.
8. Catcher in the Rye by JD Salinger - Everytime I fuck up, I think of Holden Caulfield. And then I realise that things could have been worse.
9. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee - Forget James Bond. If there really is a personification of 'GQ man', than that honour should go to one Mr. Atticus Finch.
10. Fountainhead by Ayn Rand - It's an absolute must-read if you are in college and trying to hit on women with literary leanings. Quoting it always follows countless hours of conversations over coffee. ;)
PS: Whether you agree with the woman (the one you are hitting on, not Ayn Rand) or not, you better have an opinion of your own before attempting a pseudo-intellectual heist. Cheers!
11. The Trial by Franz Kafka - An awesome satire on the judicial system. Really makes you feel impotent. Not for the weak of heart and mind.
12. Vernon God Little by DBC Pierre - If you are the kinds who has bottled up anger for many years, than take a deep breath, try and channelise it into wicked bursts of sarcasm and other unprintable variants. And hell, win the GODDAMN BOOKER as a consolation for anger management!
13. Animal Farm by George Orwell - This one inspired me to write a street play. And I must say, it was a one-hit wonder. At least as far as lit events at colleges in the proximity of South Canara go. :P
14. Around the World in 80 Days by Jules Verne, and Around the World in 80 Days by Michael Palin - It took the first book to inspire me to make a holiday list, and the second one to believe it was possible. I'd give myself 80 years for this adventure, though.
15. Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carrol - One Reverand Dodgeson starts taking a trip of one bored 10-year old Alice Liddle, on a boatride. And the rest, they say, is hysterical. This book drove the literary world crazy with one question, "What was Lewis Carrol smoking?". Once revealed, with conclusive evidence, the stimulant in question ought to be legalised.