1. Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert A. Heinlein--Heinlein had a strong influence on the way I think. This book was one of the things that set my mind free.
2. Time Enough for Love by Robert A. Heinlein--depending on my mood, either this book or the one above is my absolute favorite. This one is an extended meditation on the nature of love.
3. The Prince by Niccolo Machiavelli--if you want to understand politics, this little book is a must read.
4. The Selfish Gene by Richard Dawkins--this is the best introduction to natural selection that I know of. Once you understand it, it as powerful tool that you will use in your thinking regularly.
5. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S. Thompson--it's the funniest thing that I've ever read. It caused me to laugh beyond the point of pain more than once.
6. Economics in One Lesson by Henry Hazlitt--this isn't the last word, but it is a great introduction to economic thinking. It will help you cut through some of the more egregious nonsense you see in the media.
7. The Bell Curve by Richard J. Herrnstein and Charles Murray--when this book came out, the authors were accused of being racists. The accusation was scurrilous even by the low standards of the press. Race was the focus of only one chapter. The main theme of the book was the effects that assortative mating was having on Western society. In the years since the book's publication, their predictions have been in the process of playing out. If you want to understand what really is going on in the world, this book is a necessity.
8. The Moon is a Harsh Mistress by Robert A. Heinlein--this is the best pure science fiction novel ever published. The ending is potent, and there is a good chance that you will tear up.
9. Cannery Row by John Steinbeck--the sense of humanity in this one runs deep.
10. The Top 500 Poems edited by William Harmon--it's pretty much what the title says it is.
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