There are some interesting choices on this list. Russian writers like Tolstoy, Nabokov and Dostoevsky were popular. Since Ha Jin is a novelist from China, his choice of Tolstoy's "War & Peace" was fascinating to me (if you've not read Ha Jin's novel "Waiting" you should pick it up). Stephen King's choice of "The Golden Argosy" was equally thought-provoking.
I think looking at this list leads inevitably to the idea that the books these authors favor is somehow reflected in their own writing. Things that make you go "hmm" indeed.
My favorite is a tie between three books at the moment, although, like sands shifting across a desert scree, my favorites change from time to time. Presently, in no particular order, my top three are:
I like these three for different reasons, but it mostly boils down to two fundamental elements: story, and the quality of the writing. Looked at critically, I don't see a through line or theme in these three books; I can only conclude that they each scratch a different literary itch, so it's difficult for me to pick only one.
What about you? What's your favorite book? Why do you like it so much? Any advice on how to narrow my three to one?