I discovered JD Salinger when I was in college. The Catcher in the Rye, although his best known work, a beautifully written novel of adolescent angst, and the first of his books that I read, is not my favourite Salinger. I fell in love with the Glass family, who inhabit Franny and Zooey, Raise High the Roofbeam, Carpenters and Seymour:An Introduction, and some of the stories in Nine Stories.
Salinger painlessly introduces concepts from Zen Buddhism and Japanese poetry, the Vedas and more. To a self-absorbed Delhi teenager, these were absolutely eye-opening ideas.
He opened up entire new worlds of Oriental thought, as well as my favourite quotation on child-rearing.
My friend Kiran has quoted here Kahlil Gibran's famous lines from The Prophet, which resonate with most of us for their absolute truth.
Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.
You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward not tarries with yesterday.
Salinger has a similar quotation from one of the Upanishads, I think, which has stayed with me over the decades:
A child is a guest in the house, to be cherished and loved, but never possessed, because he belongs to God.
Being my irreverent self, I have added a proviso:
All guests have to follow the house rules.
I think that's fair enough!