Thursday, June 13, 2013

My Gateway Books - Part One

Now Playing -  Ho Hey by The Lumineers
Life -  

 Yesterday, my sister in law asked me for some suggestions for books. This is an awesome thing, because I've never thought of her as a reader. However, when asked what kind of book, she was unclear. That makes it hard, because there are so many different genres and so many great books in each and all very different.

On the plus side, she's also kind of a blank slate. I know she's read books and recently read all six of the books my wife and I have released, which are three radically divergent genres, so that made up my mind for me:

I would write my definitive list of Gateway Books. This is my list of the first book I would want a neophyte to read in each of the genres I love. (Or the first few... I'm not good at being completely definitive...)

 In most cases, these might not be the best book of it's kind in the genre, or completely representative of it. But I think they're books that, when read, would give the reader a good idea of what the genre is about and whether they want to move on to more like it. I also chose ones that were relatively easy reads to the modern reader. As much as I adore Ray Bradbury, HP Lovecraft, Poe and the like, a modern reader has a hard time truly enjoying the reading process with books like that.

  • Middle Grade Fantasy
    • Harry Potter and The Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. Rowling.
      •  Easy to read, incorporating elements of mythology and fantasy, this will work.
        • Additional reading: The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents - Terry Pratchett
  • Middle Grade Adventure
    • Skulduggery Pleasant by Derek Landy
      • Clever little noir fantasy adventure, this book incorporates detective, fantasy, humor and action and it a hell of a lot of fun to read. (Technically quite a fantasy novel, but I felt it was more of an adventure.)
  • Middle Grade Mystery/Horror
    • The House With A Clock In Its Walls by John Bellairs
      • My favorite Gothic horror novel growing up, this book is a spooky little tale of a young boy trying to defeat a house ticking its way to doomsday. 
  • Non Fiction
    • In A Sunburned Country by Bill Bryson
      • This is a tricky category for me. I love reading non-fiction but it took a really long time to get into it and I have a hard time finding ones I like. This humorous travel book by the hilarious Bill Bryson is a fantastic read and will make you want to travel. And read more.
  • Light Fantasy
    • The Misenchanted Sword by Lawrence Watt-Evans
      • This was the first "Adult" book I read as a child and I fell in love. Watt-Evans is still one of my top two favorite authors and this novel, about a simple soldier and his magic sword is the perfect intro to the genre. Different worlds, strange spells and ideas, but easy to read and very light-hearted.
        • Further Reading - Anything by Terry Pratchett. I wouldn't recommend starting with the first book however. The humor is a little rougher, and more British. Harder to get into right away. Maybe start with Guards, Guards!
  • Epic Fantasy
    • Touched By The Gods by Lawrence Watt-Evans
      • I know, repeat author, but Epic Fantasy, stuff like Lord Of The Rings, A Song Of Ice And Fire (The Game Of Thrones) The Wheel Of Time Series, can be VERY hard to get into. They're Epic, after all. This single novel by Watt-Evans has a lot of the elements in one great novel.
        • Further Reading - The Runelords Books by David Farland are a good place to start with a larger series. 
  • Light Science Fiction
    • The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy by Douglas Adams
      • Non-stop hilarious and full of the bizarre worlds that Sci-Fi is made of, I think this should be one of the first ten books every person alive reads.
        • Further Reading - Possibly The Hunger Games series. It's quite readable. Might even be a better choice for a first foray into Science Fiction. Dystopian worlds, high tech, pining for boys....
  • Hard Science Fiction
    • Diamond Age by Neal Stephenson
      • Honestly, I wouldn't recommend starting with Hard Sci-Fi until you have a lot of other sci fi and fantasy under your belt. A lot of it can be indecipherable at first glance or maddening even. But if you try this and like it, there's a LOT of great stuff out there.
  • Horror - Supernatural
    • The Strain by Guillermo Del Toro and Chuck Hogan
      • An odd choice, perhaps but The Strain features a great adventure and a hardcore take on vampires that's very accessible to newbies. 
        • After that, some Stephen King maybe or if his slow burn supernatural stuff is a little hard, hit up Jonathan Maberry for one of his action-y zombie novels.
  • Horror - Non-Supernatural
    • Trapped by Jack Kilborn
      • My 13 year old nephew introduced this to me. It's gory and crazy and very over the top. Not for the faint of hearted but features everything this kind of book needs. A horror where people are the horrors.
        • Further Reading - Psycho by Robert Bloch. The original.
Next time: Mystery and other fiction wonders!

1 comment:

Teena Marley said...

some of my favorite books still are the ones we read together when you and ben were growing up. Bunnicula, Indian in the Cupboard, Castle in the Attic, Pigs Might Fly, Whispering Ferns....oh wait that one is a recent read ;o)