I was actually 17 before I read my first book by RAH. I remember it quite clearly, even though it is over 30 years ago now.
At the time I was working as a kitchen hand at a remote construction camp some 130 kilometres from Mt Isa in North Queensland. One of the othere guys there was leaving the camp and had a box full of books that he was going to leave behind and told me to help myself.
The first book I pulled from the pile was a science fiction novel and being a sci-fi fan already, I decided that I would read it first. From the very opening page I was hooked and that was just the introduction. The book, 'Time Enough for Love', a book that remains to this day a part of my collection and has been re-read so many times that I am sure I must be on my third of fourth copy by now.
I would have to say that the philosophy as expounded by the main character 'Lazarus Long' had quite a significant effect on me, an effect that continues to this day. Unfortunately however, two of the sayings in the 'Extracts from the notebook of Lazarus long' became so strongly engrained into my own personal philosophy that even today, they continue to be a significant influence but maybe not quite as much as they were some 20 to 30 years ago. The two I am refering to were:
'Everything in excess! To enjoy the flavour of life, take big bites. Moderation is for the monks.'
'Yield to temptation; it may never pass your way again.'
Although there are many more that probably had some significance to me as well but if I went into that, this would just be a collection of all of those sayings.
Not long after reading 'Time Enough For Love' I picked up my second book by Robert, again to Heinlein fans a classic, 'Stranger in a Strange Land'. Quickly followed by 'I Will Fear no Evil' and from that point on every novel and collection of short stories I could get my hands on.
Three years ago, I had decided to spend most of my time in Thailand and as a person of limited means, I had to dispose of most of my books in my collection, a collection that had been growing for great number of years. However, I could not bare to part with my Heinlein collection, so packed them with a few other selected books and had them shipped over.