I would say my most recent favorite is The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon and Lucia Graves. What an amazing book, it reminded me of Ernest Hemingway's voice.
For me a fundamental book was Down These Mean Streets (Vintage) by Piri Thomas as well as The Alchemist: A Fable About Following Your Dream by Paulo Coelho.
When I read Thomas' book, I was 12 years old and living in Spanish Harlem, and I was in awe that someone had written with such clarity about that same place forty years earlier. It was even more inspiring to me that that someone was a Boricua too. The impact of that fact was never forgotten.
Coehlo's novel was recommended to me by several people, including the artist De La Vega, but I didn't read it until a couple of years later. When I did I found the same wonder and magic and truth in it that brought back memories of the hope and universal truth that I carried in me as a young idealic little girl. I wanted to go out and buy this inspiritional tale for everyone I loved, my brothers, my lover and my friends.
There have been other magical books as well, like Like Water for Chocolate: A Novel in Monthly Installments with Recipes, Romances, and Home Remedies by Laura Esquivel , and The Stories of Eva Luna by Isabel Allende.
So, enough about me...what books have made an impact on you and why?