Top Ten Tuesday: gateway books


Inspired by my fellow Aussie Owned and Read blogger Emily Mead, I thought it might be fun to do the Top Ten Tuesday meme from over at The Broke and the Bookish. (I may not do it every week; I’ll see how I go.)

Today’s theme is gateway books—books that got you into reading, an author that got you into reading a genre you never thought you’d read, a book that brought you BACK into reading. That sort of thing.

TheHobbitThe Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien. This was the first high fantasy I ever read (which I read obsessively in my pre-teens), and the first one that made me realise make-believe stories could be for older kids too.

The Dragonriders of Pern by Anne McCaffrey. I picked this up thinking it was high fantasy (and after The Hobbit, dragons were a thing for me). But, as anyone who has read the entire series will know, the Pern books are actually light science fiction with a draconic twist. I then went on to read pretty much everything McCaffrey ever wrote, which included a lot of other light, character-driven sci-fi—and everything I could find by anyone she ever collaborated with too.

Harry Potter by J. K. Rowling. I remember hearing news stories about teenagers queuing outside bookstores for a Harry Potter release—I think it was The Goblet of Fire. I was so impressed I grabbed a copy of the first book to see what all the fuss was about. Thus began my love of YA. (The same thing happened with Twilight later but, although I read the first two books in that series, I didn’t like either Bella or Edward very much, which made it hard to get into.)

The US and UK covers of Stormdancer

Stormdancer by Jay Kristoff. Jay is an acquaintance of mine (we used to be part of the same club) so I was curious to see what his debut novel was all about. I was familiar with the idea of Steampunk but hadn’t read any. AND I LOVED IT. I’ve since gone on to read other Steampunk—Dehlilah S. Dawson is particularly awesome—because of Stormdancer.

The Witches of Eileanan series by Kate Forsyth. I’ve blogged about the revelation that was Kate Forsyth’s high fantasy series before. In short, it was a revelation to me: Australians could publish high fantasy! And do very well at it, thank you very much.

The Problem With Crazy by Lauren K. McKellar. I hardly ever read contemporary fiction. But this latest release by McKellar—which, again, I read because I know her personally—blew me clean out of the water. I think I’ll look a little harder at new adult contemporary, especially the issue-driven stuff, because it was ah-MAY-zing.

StoneCageThe Stone Cage by Nicholas Stuart Grey. This was the first fairytale spinoff or retelling I ever read. It’s a Rapunzel retelling from the perspective of the witch’s cat.

Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter series by Laurel K. Hamilton. This is one of the early urban fantasy series I read. I loved Anita and her world of vampires and werewolves. Anita’s a little different from your average urban fantasy heroine in that she raises the dead with sacrifices for a living, between slaying rogue vampires on behalf of the police. (As an aside, once you get past about book eight in the series it transitions to erotica, pretty much. That’s not really my genre so I lost interest. Others may appreciate it, though.)

The Very Cranky Bear by Nick Bland. As I’ve said before recently, I read a lot of picture books nowadays. Like all other genres there are good ones and very, very bad ones. This is one of those picture books that shows you how beautifully illustrated, funny and thoughtful they can be.

Dragons of Autumn Twilight by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman. I went through a phase where I read a lot of what I’d kindly call nerd novels: those based on or in worlds from roleplaying or computer games. There’s a definite appeal to reading a book, knowing you can actually create your own story in that world (something fanfic writers can appreciate, I’m sure). Other than Dragonlance, I’ve also dabbled in World of Darkness and World of Warcraft fiction. The WoD stuff in particular has some pretty epic backstory, even though the game is as addictive as many illicit drugs.

What books would you say were your “gateways” into new genres or experiences?

3 Comments on “Top Ten Tuesday: gateway books”

  1. Thanks for the heads up on Storm Dancer, It’s in my to read pile and it’s a big pile.

  2. Caitie F says:

    This is a great list! I need to read so many of them. Stormdancer is really wonderful though. I get excited when other people love it too.

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