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I consider myself a pretty eclectic reader, so for this week's list I've chosen my gateway books to some of my favorite genres...
Fantasy: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, by JK Rowling
While this may not literally have been the first fantasy book I ever read, it was the first that made me a fan of the genre. Before HP, I read a lot of mysteries and other realistic fiction, but this series changed all that.
Dystopias: Tomorrow When the War Began, by John Marsden
I don't think I fully understood what a dystopia was or that this series was indeed dystopian at the time I read first read it, but it was my first foray into the genre and I enjoyed it immensely. I loved how thought-provoking this series was and I continue to be attracted to that aspect of dystopias.
Historical Fiction: Water for Elephants, by Sara Gruen
I had certainly read historical fiction before this one, but this book made me love historical fiction. Which leads into the more specific sub-category I later discovered...
Gothic Historical Fiction: The House at Riverton, by Kate Morton
Genre-bending books: Outlander series, by Diana Gabaldon
This was the first series I read that defied categorization. To this day, I describe it as "a little bit of everything" -- there's romance, time travel, family, history, intrigue, politics, war -- you name it, and it's probably in one of these books. It is truly expansive in scope and I think of this saga every time I hear about a new book that doesn't fit neatly into a specific category.
Foodie Books: Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, by Barbara Kingsolver
I was reading this book while working a very stressful and emotionally draining job and can vividly remember coming home at the end of the day and immersing myself in its pages. There was something about the simpler, slower lifestyle and the focus on nutritious local food that appealed to me very strongly and still does.
The Classics: Fahrenheit 451, by Ray Bradbury
This is an area I still am working on, but the first classic I remember reading and actually enjoying (even as a highschooler!) was Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451. It made me realize not all classics are boring and they come in all different varieties & genres -- it doesn't have to be all Shakespeare and Dickens (not that there's anything wrong with those!)
Books about Books: The Bookman's Tale, by Charlie Lovett
I had always liked the idea of a book about books, but this was one of the first I actually read introducing me to a new favorite genre. I didn't read it all that long ago actually and can't wait to dive into more!
Humorous memoirs (& audiobooks): Sh*t My Dad Says, by Justin Halpern
This one was a completely hysterical double-whammy -- it made me realize not only how much I love this type of book, but also how a performance or narration in the audio format can sometimes make a good story even better.