My pick: Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.
I read this book in September 2008, and it changed my life. Well, it contributed to changing it, at least. Kyle had previously read and highly recommended this book (and I'm sure it contributed to him being a history and philosophy of science major), and I was finally reading it during my first semester of sophomore year at American University. It is the kind of book that makes you think, makes you want to think. I couldn't help but fill it with sticky notes and tabs (pictured, haha), fill pages in a notebook with my rambling thoughts and questions. One Saturday in particular, I had the closest to what I imagine an epiphany would feel like. I was going between reading this book, and working on things for my cross cultural communications and psychology courses. They were courses to satisfy general education requirements, as I was at the time majoring in Business. I'm not sure how or what happened, but the combination of the philosophy, anthropology and psychology all floating around in my head just hit me all at once. It was all connected, and it was all more important than anything else I could think of. Business isn't what I wanted and needed to be learning, it was people. I think I knew that all along, but I hadn't really known about or explored all these majors I didn't know existed. I just wanted to think about and learn about people; what could be more important? I ended up switching majors and switching schools. It is certainly one of the, if the the most memorable, books I have read. Even if I forget a lot about it (I have a terrible long-term memory for things I've read), I always remember the weight of it and how it made me think.
I didn't want to spend too much time telling you actually what the book is about; it is a philosophical adventure, it is haunting and unforgettable. It can get heavy at times, but it forces you to take it slowly, stop and think about your own life and humanity. I'm really getting an urge to read it again, actually! Here is some info courtesy of Wikipedia (but it is best to just read it):
"Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry into Values (ZAMM) is a 1974 philosophical novel, the first of Robert M. Pirsig's texts in which he explores his Metaphysics of Quality.
The book describes, in first person, a 17-day journey on his motorcycle from Minnesota to California by the author (though he is not identified in the book) and his son Chris, joined for the first nine days by close friends John and Sylvia Sutherland. The trip is punctuated by numerous philosophical discussions, referred to as Chautauquas by the author, on topics including epistemology, ethical emotivism and the philosophy of science.
In ZAMM, Pirsig explores the meaning and concept of quality, a term he deems to be undefinable. Pirsig's thesis is that to truly experience quality one must both embrace and apply it as best fits the requirements of the situation. According to Pirsig, such an approach would avoid a great deal of frustration and dissatisfaction common to modern life."