My Gateway To Independent Reading
Great Illustrated Classics: I was in second grade and we were moving halfway through the school year from Nebraska to England. (Yes, you read that right. Military kid.) Anyway, friends of my parents gave me a whole box of these right before we left at Christmas. It was after the movers came so I had them all with me on the trip. I remember reading The Wizard of Oz on the plane. I didn't care for that one, but A Tale of Two Cities, The Count of Monte Cristo, and Pride and Prejudice were repeated rereads and still in my top ten favorite books. I read the actual real versions now though.
My Gateway To Bookish Obsessions
Little House on the Prairie Series: Once I made my way through my box of illustrated classics, I started checking out Little House books from the school library. I loved the TV show, so I thought the books were a perfect next step. I read the entire series three times in a row, begged for my own set, and then read those until they fell apart. Rereading them as an adult has not been as enjoyable, but I still have the good childhood memory of how much I loved them.
My Gateway To Sci-Fi Fantasy
A Wrinkle in Time: I was in fifth grade when I discovered this one, and it completely changed the way I looked at the world and reading. I had read a few other fantasy novels, but none of them fully sucked me into the genre like this one did. I wanted to be Meg so much. And Calvin was my first book boyfriend. I read the entire series and then every other book by L'Engle I could find. (A Ring of Endless Light is my second favorite by her.)
My Gateway To Regency Romance
The Viscount Who Loved Me: When I was in high school, I read a lot of historical romance novels, but they weren't Regency era. Then I went to college and became the biggest literary snob. My first year of teaching cured me of THAT. I needed light, fun books that had nothing to do with my job and would completely distract me from the emotional stress that the first year of teaching is. I picked up The Viscount Who Loved Me at the bookstore on a whim one day, and couldn't have been happier. Julia Quinn is FUNNY and her Bridgerton books are the best she has. Reading her backlist got me through my first year of teaching and I always had her new release to look forward to right after summer break started every subsequent year.
My Gateway To Rediscovering Current MG Fiction
Leepike Ridge: After leaving teaching following the birth of my daughter, I used any spare time I had to catch up on all the adult non-fiction and classics I had been wanting to read but never had time for while teaching. After a few years I really began to miss MG fiction though. It is the category where some of the best stuff is written. N.D. Wilson's Leepike Ridge was a reminder to me of why I loved MG books so much and brought me back to reading them.
My Gateway To Discovering the World of Book Blogging
The Queen's Thief Series: I had a copy of The Thief in my classroom library all four years, and never read it. I had several students who read it and loved it, but I never did. Then because I loved Leepike Ridge, I began reading N.D. Wilson's website and he recommended Turner's books. I finally read The Thief and immediately wanted to go back in time and force myself to read it sooner. I read The Queen of Attolia and The King of Attolia three times each in the space of a week. I didn't spend much time on the computer at this point in my life. I had two small children, but I needed to find other people who had read these and would talk about them with me. I discovered the livejouranl community of Sounis and through that discovered that book blogging was actually a thing. SO. GLAD. I. DID.
My Gateway To Mysteries
Gaudy Night: I was never much interested in mystery novels. I had read a couple Christie novels and Sherlock Holmes, but overall it was a genre that held no interest to me. Then the folks at Sounis (see above) kept talking about how wonderful Sayers books were, particularly the ones with Harriet and I went out to find them. I didn't realize Gaudy Night was actually the third in the Peter/Harriet books until I started reading it. No matter, I was hooked. I was hooked on Peter and Harriet and them together, but I was also hooked on the mystery aspect in a way I had never been before. Despite having read some really bad ones since giving the genre a more thorough try, I do enjoy most of the ones I read.
My Gateway To Contemporary YA
Saving Francesca: Prior to reading Saving Francesca, the only YA I read was the occasional YA fantasy book. But several of the book bloggers I had started following kept mentioning how brilliant Melina Marchetta was and how everyone had to read Jellicoe Road. (All of those people are right.) Why didn't I read Jellicoe Road then? Who knows. I often like to not do what people are telling me to and reading Saving Francesca first was a way to sort of do that. I loved it and it made me realize I should probably give the genre as a whole more of a chance. It is still my favorite though. (Yes, I DO like it even more than Jellicoe, though I love it very much too.)
My Gateway To Adult Contemporary Romance
The Chocolate Thief: This is the newest one, starting just this past year. I have always been super opposed to reading adult contemporary romances. Why? I never had a good reason. But I avoided them and barely paid attention when people raved about one they had read. What made the difference when Chachic started talking about these books on Twitter? Well, chocolate and Paris were mentioned a lot. Then, because Laura needed MG recommendations for her daughter and Chachic sent her my way, I discovered she was a delightful and interesting person. So I read her book. And then I read every single book that followed and most of the books she's recommended. (Several of her recommendations are still sitting unread on my Nook, but I'm getting to them!)