Early influences on my life

A couple of weeks back i woke up in the middle of the night and immediately began thinking about books and movies that influenced my life growing up.  I have no idea why, but it was as clear to me then at three AM as it is me typing it here now.  In order to let myself fall back asleep i had to write down the list pretty much right then.  At least as many of them as i could think of.

My first intention had been to write one blog entry and summarize each and everyone... but after ten or more days of having the intention... i have decided to just plop one (maybe two) down at a time when i am "stuck" for something to blog about.
The first influence on me as a child that i am remembering (and they do not necessarily come back to me in chronological order) was the book House of Stairs by William Sleator.  I remember checking this book out of my school library in the 5th or 6th grade and just devouring it.  I may have even read it twice before returning.

Product Description - from Amazon.com
One by one, five sixteen-year-old orphans are brought to a strange building. It is not a prison, not a hospital; it has no walls, no ceiling, no floor. Nothing but endless flights of stairs leading nowhere —except back to a strange red machine. The five must learn to love the machine and let it rule their lives. But will they let it kill their souls? This chilling, suspenseful indictment of mind control is a classic of science fiction and will haunt readers long after the last page is turned.

What i learned from this book is that peer pressure, even pressure from outside influences, is not always a good thing. And i struggle with being a 'Chameleon' which comes from my fear of man.  I want to be accepted and liked by everyone, but when i feel like i am being played i have a tendency to dig my heals in. One of the last sentences in the book really "kicked me in my head".  
"When the street light changed, (the children minus the 'hereos') began to dance."
Throughout the entire book the unseen antagonists are manipulating the children who have been dumped into the experiment with food and/or sleep deprivations.  Basically using both reward and punishments to try and get desired results.  What i saw through that one sentence was that the two heroes, Peter and Lola, were free, they were their own persons, but the others who did not resist the manipulation were trapped into the behavior.

Now, when i first read this i was not immediately transformed into the man i am today.  I essentially rebelled against the "manipulation" i felt was coming from the "system" (i.e. school, authority, etc.).  I am sure i gave my mother fits.  But over time it has really helped me avoid other forms of manipulation by my peers.  Drugs, alcohol, etc.

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