Because I read it in high school, I didn't really understand it, but I never forgot Grendel–a dense, dark retelling of Beowulf from the villain's perspective. The symbols and allusions sailed over my head, but oh, how I indentified with the intelligent, isolated, rebuffed Grendel, who longed for the noble and beautiful poetry of men but was damned by fate to a life of violence. Grendel, who thought he could see through man's pretty illusions to the real chaos of existence. Grendel, Ruiner of Meadhalls! Grendel, Wrecker of Kings!
Not exactly the typical role model for a troubled 17-year-old girl from Slidell, Louisiana, but that was the appeal. Grendel pulled back the curtain on a world so alien and grand, so beautiful and full of magic even if it was dark and brutal.