Kevin gave no rules, so I made up my own. Basically, I am assuming there is no apocalypse for the rest of my life so I don't need a lot of guidebooks, that omnibuses are allowed, that I can still find facts and how-tos online but am not allowed to read books online, and that I can't say that my kids can have infinite books and I'll just read those.
If I could only have ten books for the rest of my life, well, the first two are obvious to me, because I’ve found them infinitely re-readable**:
To Say Nothing of the Dog, by Connie Willis and
Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen
The next is also obvious, it's
The Complete Works of Shakespeare
because it will be there to allow me to dive into language and stories and I do believe Shakespeare is the kind of thing with so many levels that I can’t really appreciate it all in one lifetime.
Another omnibus would be
The Chronicles of Narnia, by C. S. Lewis
Because I want to read them to my kids, even with the allegorical nature and the lack of Jesus in my life. They were so important to me as a child.
I’m saving one spot for the third book in Rothfuss’s Kingkiller Chronicle, whenever it comes out.
Grimm’s Fairy Tales, because duh.
The Bible, because there’s a lot there to read, and it informs a lot of literature and thinking in the US. I don’t know enough to say which version I’d want, sadly.
Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott, because I think she’s wise and because I want something about writing on this list, though if ever forced to make this 10 books choice I will probably dither over this one.
Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi, because I want one cookbook, and that’s the one I want. It hits my cookbook buttons—excellent food, pictures, and text.
The last slot I will save for something that comes out later. It might be another one from Connie Willis (though, oh god, what if it was like Passage rather than one of the good ones), or maybe something else, but I want one slot free for aspirations and possibilities.
**The runner up in this category is Possession by A. S. Byatt, and I would probably dither over this if forced into this reality.