People can stop sending me the "It’s Not You, It’s Your Books" essay already. I will say the number of seemingly attractive women who list an Ayn Rand novel as a favorite book online is rather astonishing.
The Pure Product of America: Maybe they all want to be dominated by prickish renegade architects!Hmm. Yeah, Mary Gaitskill picked up on that a while back. Hmm.
Anyway. I used to read myself to sleep with organic reaction mechanisms. Sometimes I still do. But I'm also the guy who read Anna Karenina straight through one college spring night, not really caring about the position of the sun. I chanted myself hoarse in bad Italian reading the Divine Comedy aloud with a facing translation. I was walked through Oedipus Rex with Aristotle at my side. All of Flannery O'Connor, near everything of Nabokov in English.
If you had to press me what my favorite books were in that period, I might have said Greil Marcus's Mystery Train, Hugh Kenner's The Pound Era, and Samuel Delany's The Motion of Light in Water, as well as the more expected Freeman Dyson's Disturbing the Universe. A version of me born somewhat later might have included Dave Hickey's Air Guitar, or one of Anne Carson's early books of poetry, or maybe even James Robinson's Starman comic instead. I don't know what a full Generation Awesome version of me would choose. But there's always something. Books that link outward, not inward.
This is sort of a partial answer to a question KW asked in comments a while back.