J.D. Salinger was one of my favorite authors in high school and early college. I think he was one of the authors that got me interested in literature, which I eventually majored in at the University of Washington.
I think I became aware of Howard Zinn in graduate schhol and vowed if I ever taught history at high school at the very least I would make several chapters of A People's History of the United States, a seminal book, required reading. I vastly respect Zinn's achievements and sense of morality.