A few folks took up my call to list their three most intellectually exciting books written in the past decade. Herewith the results of that challenge:
Triona Trog lists Finders Keepers by Seamus Heaney, Defying Hitler by Sebastien Haffner, and Women Who Run With the Wolves, by Clarissa Pinkola Este.
Natalia at Unknown Strains lists John Guillory's Cultural Capital, Colleen Lye's America's Asia, and Lisa Robertson's The Weather and also Anne Cheng's The Melancholy of Race. [must avoid Stanford/Berkeley rivalry joke about Berkeley Ph.D. chosing four when asked to choose three...
I thought also that Tiruncula had also posted her three, but I am being a doofus about getting into the archives and can't find it.
If there was anyone else whom I've rudely missed, please ping me and I'll correct.
I think that the difference between all of these books (and the three I noted) is remarkably huge, and it goes to show that intellectual excitement is a very individual thing. There are indeed massively influential works, but I wonder how many of them are genuinely exciting to a large group of people; maybe there're just popular, not deeply influential.