1980: In June, I attended a writers conference at UC Berkeley and met Grace Paley. In July, I read Joan Didion's "Slouching Towards Bethlehem." Both changed the way I think about stories and narrative. You can't get any better than that.
1984: Europe after college graduation was like a kinder, gentler summer camp, one for readers, not for kids. I read Alexander Trocchi, Hubert Selby Jr., Thomas Mann, Ian McEwan, Caroline Blackwood. I bought so many books I needed a new suitcase to get them home.
1992: On Cape Cod, I read Ellen Willis' "Beginning to See the Light," a collection of essays about rock music and culture that highlights the idea of criticism as an art in its own right. Then as now, essential reading, a book to which I regularly return.