The book that meant most to me on first reading, when I was in my mid-teens, was James Baldwin's novel Another Country. In those days, believe it or not, department stores had book departments. I used to haunt the basement of Beale's in Bournemouth, browsing the paperbacks. It was here that I first found and bought Death in Venice; here, too, Baldwin's Giovanni's Room and several Genets. Thomas Mann was good on the aesthetics, Genet on the erotics. But Another Country, in the Corgi edition, opened things up further in relation to the life I might live. Here, male-male relationships could be short- or long-term, inter-ethnic, international. They could be anguished or blissful. They could be experienced by men-who-loved-men or men-who-otherwise-loved-women. They didn't have to define you, but could. All of this was narrated in the richest of prose, ultimately derived from the Authorised Version of the Bible but absolutely modern in all its concerns. I've re-read it many times since, and it has never lost its capacity to thrill.