By Vladimir Nabokov
I went to a good school in Oklahoma City—I wasn't a complete rube when I read Lolita in college, but I'll never forget the opening page of this book. It's the most brilliant beginning of any work of fiction I know. The subject matter—Humbert Humbert's affair with a nymphet—is still shocking, but the story pulls you in like nothing else. It's an absolute tour de force. I realize now that Lolita changed the way I've looked at every book I've read since.