I always loved reading when I was growing up. I can actually remember being so miserable in the first grade, then that feeling went away. My mother says that it coincided with us learning to read. Books are and have always been an outlet to another world. One that wasn't confined to the laws of nature of this world. I'm not just talking about books of pure fantasy.
One of my favorite series of books was the Mad Scientist Club. The collection of stories that I read was originally written in the late 60's. I read them in the late 80's and was captivated. The stories center around 7 boys, that I envisioned to be the same age as me. They built cool thing (like a submarine), had a cool hang out, and solved crimes and problems. I probably read each of those stories at least 100 times. I still have those books 20 some odd years later.
Looking back, those stories probably fed my desire to become an engineer. Lead me to tear stuff apart to see how it worked (and rebuild it, if I could, into something different). It prompted me to build tree houses, and forts, and go on fanciful adventures if only in my mind.
You know I've never had a TV show inspire me like that (except maybe "This Old House" or a miscellaneous cooking show). Those books still inspire me today. Returning from our vacation we stopped at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center. They had a display of military equipment that included at small submarine. I told my wife that I had to take some pictures.....just for when I build mine.