I first read Ballard back in the 60's I think introduced through an early evening programme on The Third Programme on contemporary SF writing, at the time I was familiar with Bradbury (and English master's enthousiasm) so it wasn't a big leap. Drowned World seemed to resonate with my end of teen years, I read his short stories many times over the years - recently acquiring the two volumes. For a long time I was convinced that I'd nicked part of a plot idea of his for my Cambridge entrance exam - but the device I remember isn't in any of his works, I think now it was a self invented extension inspired by the claustrophobia of his writing.
I've taken longer to get to his later works - some are still unread, maybe I don't want to meet another Ballard style which I might not like!
I'm puzzled that searching this weblog for Ballard gives no hits when I know I've posted at least two items which refer to him, it looks as if Ballard doesn't match Ballard's I think this is a bug, but this post will ensure at least on hit!
From a summary of his work posted last year linked by the Guardian bookblog tribute
A warning: Don't start with Crash or The Atrocity Exhibition, unless you're feeling well hard. They will do serious damage to your head. (Either you will throw the book across the room, or the book will throw you across the room.) Work up to them.(Yes, I know some of you ARE well hard. Fair enough, OK, go for it.)- he has lots of links to the novels (from Amazon).
If you only know the Ballard of The Empire of the Sun and afterwards, do read The Drowned World, The Crystal World with the early short stories - I will try to reciprocate!