While the gist of the excerpt was that most if not all of the books we've read that changed our lives were books we read when we were children, I think I might be strange in the sense that there have been several books I've read since coming of age (so to speak) that have changed the way I view life - or at least, have tinted the way I view it. That's probably because my reading habits expanded beyond genre fiction as I grew older, and a lot of non-fiction out there can really expand your horizons. Here are a few:
* The Canon by Natalie Angier
If science had been taught to me with this much verve and enthusiasm, wonder and playfulness, I might have been very tempted to walk down the path of a scientist rather than a lawyer. The book does a masterful job of allowing the reader to wrap his head around the beauty, interconnectedness and sheer scale of science. (It's genius that one of the first chapters discusses calibration and scale, so that the reader begins to have an idea of, for instance, just how small a gene really is.) When you realize that a good 90+% of any object we see is actually, well, emptiness, it's hard to look at anything in quite the same way again.
* What Jesus Meant by Gary Wills
Being Filipino and having basically reared by the Jesuits, I've been a part of the Catholic Church practically all my life. As I grew older though, that self-same Jesuit education that gave me my Catholic foundation early on, was the same education that allowed me to scrutinize, question, and eventually disagree with certain structures, teachings and traditions of my church. Mr. Wills was the first author I read who could articulate these discomforts, these cognitive dissonances if you will, and still remain a Catholic. I don't think I quite agree with certain consequences Mr. Wills reads into his interpretation of the Gospel, but he's certainly given me the theological grounding on which to source my own disagreements with the One, Holy and Apostolic.
* The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion
The death of a loved one is not something I bear thinking about - but reading this book was, for a newly wed like me, urgent and necessary. I don't think there is any more effective way to enable yourself to truly savor each moment you have with the one you love, than by allowing yourself to be be drowned in the memories and emotions, the grief and loneliness, of one for whom those moments will never come again.
This isn't to say that genre fiction hasn't exerted a pull on me as well, but usually it's a particular scene or even a particular line in the book that will color my viewpoint from then on. The most recent one I can recall takes place in "The Curse of Chalion" by Lois McMaster Bujold, when the protagonist is explaining divine grace using a metaphor of an upturned cup.
I have to admit though that, by sheer dint of having been read during my formative years, many of the early books which influenced me, had a profound influence, mainly in terms of giving me a certain outlook on ethics and faith. The early God-Tales books by Nil Guillemette allowed me to form a kinder, gentler relationship with God than one reinforced by the threat of eternal damnation (They are a series of short 'parable' type stories, quite a few of which take on elements of sci-fi/fantasy). The book that moved me the most however, was "A Plague of Angels" by Sherri S. Tepper:
Even as a child, I could not quite reconcile how an All-Loving, All-Powerful, All-Knowing God would need to make his Son a sacrifice (as I understood it then) in order to forgive the sins of men. While I can't say that this book had the answer to that question (and yes this is a genre book, not an outwardly religious one), the beautiful ending - and the questions asked therein - continues to this day to color what I understand by the term 'Sacrifice'. Plague of Angels remains to be the only book that ever made me weep - not cry mind you. Weep.
Hm... I'm sure I'm missing a few (a lot of the philosophical books I read in college, especially in Eddieboy Calasanz's class), but these are the ones that stand out the most at the moment. It's strange looking at that list now and seeing how the aspect of my life most often impacted by books was my relation to God and the church - but then, that's one aspect of life for which I found it hard to go to my traditional sources of guidance in my youth. (Jesuits may be amongst the most open-minded priests I know, but I somehow didn't feel that they could be entirely objective with me should I choose to discuss the logical fallacies I perceived in the concept of Hell. Same goes for my Mom.)