Personally I have several copies of The Callahan Chronicles. I have one falling apart edition that I re read when I'm needing a pick me up and I have two other copies to lend to anyone who will read them. I also have a lending copy of The Deed of Paksenarrion that has been seeing more use as well.
Are there any books that you find you want to get others to read because it's either foundational to a small part of your world view, think is amazingly funny, or just something that is well put together?
Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. All of my friends think it's weird, even the geeks. I think it's essential simply for Adams' sense of humor and sarcasm, minus the insane plotline. Also Lloyd Alexander, who is a mostly unsung hero of fantasy writing.
Do you find that you need to teach others to enjoy it? I've found it resonates with most people that I introduce it to.
Although not true SF, I use Good Omens as a litmus test to rate somebody friendability. I have loaned out (and thus lost) no less than 9 copies of this book and am happy to continue doing so.
Oh yes, absolutely. I recently gave away my first copy to a friend who was bemoaning the fact they'd never gotten around to reading it. If anything else, I now have a great excuse for repurchasing it and reading it again.
The one series that I keep pushing on people is the Chronicles of Thomas Covenant. Most folk I talk to about it usually look at the size of the books and try and tell me no. I've usually got them at least to read the first one all the way through and I've had a few borrow the rest of the books from me :)
I've turned quite a few people on in my workplace to the Dresden Files series of books. Butcher has gotten a bit pop-cultury with the last couple but I love the series.
The Gormenghast Trilogy: It's quite a tough read, and by the end of the third book it's clear that Peake is somewhat, well, unhinged from reality, but I've never experienced a better example of world-building.
Iain M Banks' Culture series: Space-opera at the grandest scale, but grounded in impeccable character study. And somehow totally unknown amongst the people I meet.
It sounds kinda naff at the moment, but I'm trying to turn people on to reading George R R Martin's Song of Fire and Ice series, especially those who have seen the series but haven'd read the books. I've managed to get a couple of people to do it, which is always encouraging.
I also managed to get my sister (very non-scifi/fantasy girl!!) to read the Riftwar saga from Raymond Feist. I haven't gotten the books back for a while, so she's either still reading them....or has finished them and sold them!
I'm not sure that I'd do the same with Song of Ice and Fire. I read the books between the first and second seasons of the TV show and it's changed the way that I watch it. If someone is watching the series, I'd take care to warn them that it will change the TV show for them.
Having said that, I would still push them to read it as soon as possible: It's a great entry into the grand fantasy epic genre.
I think we could use a whole thread on this series. I just finished reading through them all in one week of sickness (home from work) and now I'm a bit... unsatisfied. I loved the first two or three, but then I got pretty annoyed by the next few, which I felt didn't really go anywhere and worst of all, aren't finished and at the pace of the last two novels, don't seem like they will ever be. I've told my wife, for example, that if you enjoy the characters and dialog, but don't care that the story doesn't really ever end (or even go much of anywhere, but I digress) that its worth reading. I certainly don't think I'd push them on people, though.