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This could mean many things - intellectually, emotionally, whatever criteria is relevant to you.

For me, it would definitely have to be The Road by Cormac McCarthy.

I have never had such an intense emotional reaction to a book before. A certain scene right at the end left me sobbing for more than half an hour and depressed me for the next few days. The themes of the book really got to me - such as isolation, absolute desolation, having only one meaningful connection left in the world, post-apocalyptic drama etc etc. Also, I adore his use of language.



--- plz to keep spoilers non-existent or exceedingly vague
 

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MOTM Dec 2011
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Anna Karenina. Prior to reading it, based on the movies, I thought it would be a rather lame love story. However, I totally loved it. Less the plot than the themes, and the character Levin, who is hands down the closest character to my own thought process.

Jude the Obscure. I knew that one shocking part (I won't spoil it) was coming, and it was still shocking in a way that really struck me beyond mere shock value. That book is wonderfully depressing. And again - the themes! I love Hardy's religious symbolism too, and the way he questions the moral integrity behind the social rules of the day.
 

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The Sparrow, by Mary Doria Russell. I never read a book more gut-wrenching, nor a book that cut right to the heart of human suffering.
 

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Tough choice here, but I probably have to go with 'Star Wars: Traitor' (http://www.amazon.com/Traitor-Star-Wars-Jedi-Order/dp/034542865X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1287812813&sr=8-1). No other book has ever come close in provoking so much emotion and thought, before or since. It makes the other Star Wars books look like kindergarten reading. Shattered my world when I read it, and certainly it changed my life, which I did not expect at all in a sci-fi book, let alone Star Wars. It was solely responsible for my interest in philosophy that has followed ever since. This is a book about some serious character development. When I felt like no one else could relate to me at that time in my life, then came this book -- a character in my situation, more dramatic but a step ahead.
 

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I'm only picking out of fiction here, but Arthur Miller's, "the crucible" or Robert Bolt's "a man for all seasons".

Both have themes about sticking to your conscience no matter what. The protagonist in a man for all seasons did not bend to the will of the king, regardless of the consequences. This struggle for truth and integrity and having the courage to fight for both when ultimately they come at a hefty price when life is guided by other principals, is a very potent part of my inner life. I think they capture very important parts of the human spirit. If there's anything that can move me, it's the courage of others, despite the price to pay.
 

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For Whom the Bell Tolls.
 

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Emotionally - Les Misérables. Cried my eyes out. Didn't help that I was... what, 10? I should read it again soon.

Intellectually - Genesis by Bernard Beckett. It just... completely blew me away. <3
 

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One of my favorite books that affected me was about the experience of an amerasian child who was the son of a prostitute, and recalls his experience growing up in a country torn by war.

It was really sad, because in his story, he reveals about his rape by his mother's boyfriend.

What really moved me the most was this scene where two young girls were prostituted and killed by the train tracks after they were brutally raped and beaten up.

What made it worse was the fact that they were treated even worse than Amerasian kids from Caucasian decent. Since they were half African American Ameriasian kids, the people in the village treated them like dirt, like they were animals. The depiction of their death just killed me inside.. especially the part where even their own mother treated them like they were lower than cattle.. it was so sad.. but it gave me a glimpse of reality- things that do happen in the real world. It's really unfortunate for kids who don't really have a choice, and are born into circumstances and conditions they don't ask for.

The stories presented were gripping.
 

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Cafe Legend and MOTM Jan 2011
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The bible.
 
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For different reasons:

Kite Runner + A Thousand Splendid Suns
Blood meridian
Une Semaine de bonté
 

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I noticed a couple people said 1984 and don't get me wrong, I LOVED that book, but to me, Animal Farm was more powerful. It was much more simple, and just the fact it used animals made it so, I don't know, innocent. And the last line is just so genius, to me, Animal Farm was a bigger impact.
 
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