1. "Last Exit to Brooklyn" by Hubert Selby Jr. The marriage of brutal street life and gorgeous bebop prose.
2. "City of Night" by John Rechy. Both shocking and suffused with longing, a combo that can make an adolescent boy circa 1966 lose his mind.
3. "The Cool World" by Warren Miller. The fictional diary of an incarcerated black kid captures a jangled, too-often-muffled voice.
4. "Tropic of Cancer" by Henry Miller. A matter-of-fact celebration of chucking one's dreary life and following your heart to Paris.
5. "The Essential Lenny Bruce." Verbatim transcripts of his routines. I heard him with my eyes. He gave me my voice.
A book you hope parents read to their kids: "Call of the Wild" by Jack London. Because it's starkly beautiful.
A classic book you've never read: "Pride and Prejudice" by Jane Austen. Because it was forced on me in school.