“Le Petit Prince“, A. de St. Exupery – Everyone should read it once a year I think 🙂
“The Wood Wife” Terry Windling – It’s not as widely acclaimed as the others on this short list but for some reason it worked for me
“Little, Big“, J. Crowley – for some reason I just love this book. It’s one of the most poetic and fascinating books I’ve read.
“Le dernier des justes” – Schwarz-Bart – haunting book following a few generations of jews in Europe. The last page is one of the hardest things I’ve ever read.
“The Poisonwood Bible” Barbara Kingsolver – Top read! The story of a misguided missionary family in the Congo, and of the Congo and its people. Beautiful writing, and very powerful tale and characters.
The Black Company series, Glen Cook
The Vorkosigan saga by Lois McMaster Bujold.
I, Robot by Isaac Asimov
Asimov’s robot stories are just an awesome collection of ideas and challenging, intelligent, sometimes heart-wrenching tales… introducing the famous Three Laws of Robotics.
The Hitchhiker’s Guide Trilogy by Douglas Adams (includes The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, The Restaurant at the End of the Universe, and Life, the Universe and Everything). One of the funniest things ever written.
Startide Rising by David Brin – or any of his other Earthclan ‘uplift’ books.
A Canticle For Leibowitz by Walter M. Miller. As good a trashing of war, organised religion and politics as you’ll find anywhere.