Yeah, I had books and poetry pushed on me hard as a kid. That's why I tell people it's no big deal that I've read so much. It's just a good habit that I was fortunate enough to be raised with. Reading isn't really a big deal to me.
I read a lot of philosophy and academic theology on my own though. Mostly out of spite. That stuff is a whole different world, with a really strange breed of characters that can really tax my patience. I don't have the temperment for that I guess.
Anyway, you are ultimately right about translation (though there are some notable exceptions). It doesn't matter too much. But if you know a great translation it really helps the experience.
Yes, I went through a very intense Nietszche period - I think read all of his stuff - lasted about 4 or 5 years. Of course that was in my atheist days. He left an impact, no doubt. Kierkegaard, also, though he is insanely difficult to read. I always have to read good books about
him at the same time, just to make sure I am getting all the subjectivity, irony, the Hegel jabs, etc. But I have gotten a lot out of him, no doubt.
Another thing, philosophy and literature really train the mind and make the Church fathers quite an easy read. Luther is fun to read - Aquinas is hard, but you get a lot out of him. Gregory of Nyssa. The Bible of course - St. Paul is great stuff (and of course truth
). Psalms, Proverbs, Job.
I also want to put in a plug for Walden by Thoreau. If anyone who is interested has not read Walden, please do. It holds up very well and is pretty readable. One of the most important American books of all time. Thoreau is good for looking at life beyond the "American" way - what it means, how to live it. A real treasure.