Rex Stout's Nero Wolfe series of detective novels are undoubtedly the best books I've ever read. And he wrote a phenomenal number of books (something like 40, spanning four or five decades), so by the time I finished the last one, I had forgotten the first one enough to read it again!
I would have to pick two favourite authors from the SF genre: Isaac Asimov and Robert Heinlein. I would say the works of these two masters had a profound effect on the way I perceived the world as a child and now as a young woman. And I would say that they are indirectly connected to the reasons and the motivation I have for learning Perl now.