Reviewing this list, I find they are all well-written, which helps get you to the guts of what each book is about.
I was a voracious reader in my youth. Saturdays, I would go to the Public Library and check out the limit of five(?) books. They be read before school Monday. Sundays, I also would read the papers Dad got: the NY Times, Newsday, and the Long Island Press. Summers, it was Monday to Saturday, 30 books a week.
I grew up reading encyclopedias, including the Popular Science Encyclopedia. Each year from 2nd to 6th grade, I finished the official lent texts and workbooks in a few weeks. The "solution" in 2nd grade was to send me to the school library. In 4th grade, they brought four full encyclopedias into the classroom, by my desk, so I got to "participate" in class more.
When I was quite young, I found
Swiss Family Robinson by Johann David Wyss
and read it dozens of times. It taught me that you can have incredible adventures, while finding innovative solutions to what might seem impossible problems.
That ended when, in my early teens, I found
Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert A. Heinlein
which I read dozens of times into my twenties, and every few years since then. I enjoy it on many levels, including how to fight bureaucrats.
Floor Sample by Julia Cameron - an artist's, often hard, journey - as well as her The Artist's Way books.
All are full of tips on how to live a good and creative lives. I learned the daily practice of writing meditation from her, which has improved my life alot. Marketing Without Advertising: Creative Strategies for Small Business Success by Salli Rasberry, Michael Phillips -the best thing on grass roots marketing, I've read.
Honest Business: A Superior Strategy for Starting and Managing Your Own Business by Salli Rasberry, Michael Phillips - full of great examples and fables about doing business in a healthy way. If you like it, hunt up the stuff from the Briar Patch Network (the old printed stuff is better then what's found by web search).
The Evolution of Cooperation by Robert M. Axelrod - basic information on how to get along with humans, and get them to cooperate! One of the most worthwhile books I've ever read.
All of Edward Tufte's books on graphic design and presenting information on the printed page, including:
My favorite book by Alan Watts is Tao: The Watercourse Way, Pantheon, 1977, ISBN 0-394-73311-8
I've enjoyed the writings of Daisetz Teitaro Suzuki (aka D. T. Suzuki) one of Alan Watts' early influences.
Shunryu Suzuki, (co-)founder of the San Francisco Zen Center and
author of (among others) Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind, Weatherhill,
1970, ISBN 0-8348-0079-9.
Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind is the last book I've read on Zen meditation. During it, I realized that reading about meditation was much less important then doing it, so I started meditating.
The Society of Mind and The Emotion
Machine: Commonsense Thinking, Artificial Intelligence, and the Future
of the Human Mind by Marvin Minsky.
Thoughts on how the human mind and heart works by one of the world's foremost experts on their exploration. Thought provoking and soul-searching.
Though I have since found Yoga, these books helped me take care of my body. (Though I can recommend some yoga books and tapes/DVDs, you really need to try different instructors, until you find one who best guides your practice.)
The Time Traveler's Wife (second best time travel story I've read) and Her Fearful Symmetry (a book about the after life, twins, and life) both by Audrey Niffenegger
The Sweet Everlasting by Judson Mitcham
short wunderful novel about the south and a lower class white man intertwines 3 story lines about his youth, young adulthood, and elder years into a story full of life, including sadness and tragedy until the last sentence. Also some insight into why the American South is the way it is. lyrical smooth prose.