Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten “Gateway” Books


The topic of this Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by The Broke and The Bookish, is top ten “gateway” books in my reading journey. I have always been a reader and a book lover, and whatever story began that is long lost to my memory or, more probably, doesn’t exist as one single book. But there are a couple stops worth mentioning on my reading journey.

The books that introduced me to the beauty of grief

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Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson and Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt

There are a number of books I read in elementary school that stayed with me, and even still sit on my shelves, but these are two worth calling out. These are two books that taught me that life and stories don’t always have a happy ending, but they are still stories worth telling.

The books that introduced me to magic

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Wild Magic by Tamora Pierce and The Darkangel by Meredith Ann Pierce.

If I hadn’t read Tamora Pierce, I wouldn’t read fantasy today. Simple as that. The Darkangel is an altogether different type of fantasy, but still pivotal to my reading life. I can still remember the first time I read each of these books, almost twenty (eep!) years ago.

The books that taught me “hard” books can be worthwhile

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The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett and The Sound and the Fury by William Faulker.

“Hard” is relative, of course. My uncle gave me The Secret Garden the Christmas I was eight years old, and I struggled with it forever, trying to crack the dialect writing. I remember puzzling and puzzling over this book and just not understanding it, until one day I did, and it became one of my most beloved books. Fast forward a few years, The Sound and the Fury was my nemesis in high school. So frustrating. But I eventually came to love Faulkner, and I return to this book often, if only for selfish, grandiose, flawed Quentin Compson, who is one of my favorite characters in all of literature.

The book that introduced me to adult fantasy 


The Bone Doll’s Twin by Lynn Flewelling.

This was, if not the first fantasy I read written for adults instead of YA, at least the first one that made a strong impression on me.

The book from college that stayed with me


Slouching Towards Bethlehem by Joan Didion.

This is a book that shaped my college years, and I still go back to certain essays every once in awhile.

The book that introduced me to crime fiction


The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo by Steig Larsson.

Without Larsson I wouldn’t have developed my current obsession with Scandinavians. I also probably wouldn’t have ever learned how much I love the dark stuff–I would never have read Gillian Flynn, for one.

The book that introduced me to short stories


Among the Missing by Dan Chaon.

Once upon a time, I was a poor, deluded soul who tried to write short stories without reading them. But luckily my college writing professor introduced me to the works of Dan Chaon, and then many other great short story writers.

The book I will be rereading until I die


Frankenstein by Mary Shelley.

I’m not sure there is a better book than Frankenstein. Possibly Crime & Punishment, but I don’t reread Crime & Punishment nearly as much. Frankenstein has become almost a yearly tradition for me.

So, that’s a pretty good representation of the books that matter to me. What about you guys? What are your reading gateways like?


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