No way i can narrow this down, to one book or one time in my life. nor can i bring up one technical book on writing as a craft that strongly influenced me. but words in print definitely had impact.
was it some now-forgotten book of nursery rhymes my mother read to me when i was two or three that got me started? the new yorker cartoons of james thurber and charles addams, which a nextdoor neighbor, lucy hill, introduced me to, along with ‘alice in wonderland’ and ‘through the looking glass’?
i’m sure sid ziff’s sports columns for the los angeles times, that i read as a child at the breakfast table, had something to do with my eventually becoming a journalist. and i know for sure that thomas wolfe’s novels ‘look homeward, angel’ and ‘of time and the river,’ which i devoured [a wolfean word] as a fledgling writer when i was 14, had a lot to do with my initial ‘serious’ efforts in prose, as a high schooler.
in college, r.h. blyth and harold g. henderson’s books of japanese haiku got me going in haiku, almost 50 years ago now. and, much later, in greece, odysseas elytis’s poetry collection ‘little mariner’ recharged my by-then low battery in poetry and haikai.
guess part of what i’m saying is that for me, books on writing haven’t been much of an influence or necessity. but books have–and spoken word, as in a parent’s handed-down rhymes [‘one little piggy. . .’] and reading aloud of grimm’s fairy tales or what-have-you. i could write a book on this.