Speak friend and enter. Or perhaps more accurately, read friend and enter!
This week’s Top 5 Wednesday is about gateway books to your favorite genre. I don’t have five gateway books for one specific genre, but I do have books that I consistently recommend to vet what someone might like. If they like the initial book in any one of these genres, then the floodgates can be unleashed!
- Gateway to Me: Ender’s Game | Orson Scott Card
One way to achieve instant friendship (and earn +10 points) with me is to like this book. If you’re looking for a book and give me no criteria, this is what I’ll give you. Hands down my favorite book of all time, I *maybe* have five copies, plus the graphic novel, plus another 1.75 shelves of Card’s other books. And by “maybe,” I mean “totally.”
I’ve found that the difficult trick is getting someone to go beyond Ender’s Game. I’ve loaned it out a satisfactory number of times, but have yet to get someone sucked into the rest of the Ender/Ender’s Shadow series as thoroughly as I am. It’s a work in progress.
- Gateway to Kids Lit: Among the Hidden | Margaret Peterson Haddix
Published in 1998, this is one of Haddix’s earliest (and in my opinion, best) works. It continues to be a staple for kids lit and, despite being part of a 7 book series, can be read as a standalone. Luke is a 3rd child in a time when population laws prohibit having more than two children. When he secretly meets and befriends another “Third,” Jen, he’s challenged with the notion that perhaps he deserves more from life than constantly hiding in the shadows. The rest of the series takes more of an adventure feel as the Thirds fight for the right to exist, but Among the Hidden is rooted in reality and focuses on the value of human life.
- Gateway to Teen Fantasy: Girl of Fire and Thorns | Rae Carson
I almost put Throne of Glass or An Ember in the Ashes for this, but I actually prefer Girl of Fire and Thorns as a gateway for people who don’t typically read fantasy. (If you do read fantasy and haven’t read the aforementioned two, you should get on that pronto.) Fire and Thorns isn’t as violent or as long, but still has fast-paced action and an incredible heroine who breaks the mold of “tiny white girl” and doesn’t question her own abilities. It brings a unique blend of magic and religion, all the while emphasizing the importance of not letting other people control your destiny. Elisa rocks it hard.
- Gateway to Picture Books: I Want My Hat Back and This Is Not My Hat | Jon Klassen
If you don’t have kids, you’re probably thinking “Why on earth would I read a picture book?” Just trust me on this one. Not only did This Is Not My Hat win the Caldecott Medal for its illustrations (which is basically like a Book Oscar), the stories of both will have your jaw dropping straight to the floor. In the first, a bear will do anything (and I mean anything) to retrieve his stolen hat. In the second, a small fish steals a hat from a bigger fish, knowing full well that kind of behavior is inappro-pro. I don’t want to spoil anything for you, but let’s just say Klassen doesn’t let hat thieves off the hook lightly. Dum dum duuuuum!!!!
- Gateway to Adult Sci Fi: Dark Matter | Blake Crouch
This is a gateway I’m still walking through myself, but Dark Matter was a homerun winner in convincing me to dip my toe further into the wide world of Adult Sci Fi. It’s hard for me to know where to go once I venture out of YA, since that category is typically much more focused in the style of writing and voice, and I can have a pretty good idea of what to expect. Adult fiction can really run the gamut, but this book is perfect for someone who is interested in exploring the genre but doesn’t want trippy space settings or 300 pages of talking about warp drives. I can’t say too much without giving away too much, but Dark Matter centers around the concept of multiple universes and how every choice creates a divide between reality and the path not taken. Protagonist Jason is thrust into a world where he stuck with his career instead of pursuing family life, and he has no idea how to get back, or if there is truly anything to go back to. It will suck you in like a vortex, and does not let up until the very last page. Simply incredible. Also, it will make you feel like a quantum physics genius, for realsies.
What genres do you have gateway books to? Some genres I’m totally clueless about are historical fiction, contemporary YA/adult, thriller/mystery, memoirs and basically anything nonfiction. Drop me a link to your list, or we can chat in the comments!