The Gateway Book - Getting Hooked on a Genre


Gateway in Siena
Photo by UrbanDigger

When selecting which books to read, my guess is that most of us stick to a handful of our favorite genres or sub-genres.  For me, the lion's share of what I read is contemporary romance and young adult.  I also have a fondness for horror, mystery, and romantic suspense--but those are rare reads these days.  I'm not opposed to reading in other areas, but with so little pleasure reading time, I end up sticking to my mainstays most of the time.


Now, that means it's often hard to convince someone to give your genre a try.  For instance, many of you are not romance readers, so when I mention a recommendation/review, you probably don't pay much attention because you've already labeled it as not your thing.  I know I do the same thing.

But as writers (and readers) it's good to expand our horizons and get a feel for what else is out there.  So, with so little free reading time, I'd hate to pick up a book in a genre I haven't explored and accidentally select a crappy one--which may ruin me for exploring the genre further.

So what I thought would be fun to do today is to list a gateway book for your genre of choice.  Meaning:  

If you wanted to "sell" someone on your genre/subgenre and they've never picked up that kind of story, what's the ONE book you would want them to read that you know has the best shot at hooking them on the genre?

For instance, I'm writing erotic romance--a niche genre that is booming, but isn't mainstream for most.  It also isn't for everyone.  However, if someone is curious about testing out the genre, I often recommend Maya Banks' Sweet Surrender because even though it has some seriously risqué elements (it is erotic romance people), the characters are well-developed, the story sucks you in, the romance is primary, and the buildup of tension is deliciously executed.  It also eases the reader in instead of slapping them with erotic elements page one.

When I was looking to try out historical romance, everyone recommended Outlander, which totally sold me on historical romance--something I really hadn't had an interest in before.  So that was my gateway book.

Here are some other books I'd recommend as gateways:


And if you're looking for a terrific (though a bit outdated) book that lists gateway picks for a slew of different areas, check out The Complete Idiot's Guide to the Ultimate Reading List.  I got a used copy of this a few years ago and still go to it for recommendations.


So you tell me--what's your chosen genre/sub-genre and what gateway book would you recommend to get a newbie hooked?  And for my fellow romance readers, tell me what author/books I HAVE to read to consider myself well-read in my own genre? :)

**Today's Theme Song**
"Best of You" - Foo Fighters
(player in sidebar, take a listen)