Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Top Ten Tuesday: Topic Rewind Week!

Top Ten Tuesday is an original and weekly feature hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

~~ Topic Rewind ~~

~~ Top Ten Gateway Books or Authors ~~

This week for Top Ten Tuesday, the topic is a Top Ten Tuesday Rewind, and we can choose any topic in the past that has already been done.  It can be a topic I missed recently or over the years, or a topic that I just really want to revisit.  And so while browsing some past topics, I stumbled across this one, introduced in April 2014: Top Ten 'Gateway' Books/Authors in Our Reading Journey.

The topic focuses on the books that made an impact in our reading lives--it could be a book/author that catapulted our love for reading, or a book/author that introduced us to a new favorite genre.

I've been reading ever since I can remember, and so I don't know which book or author, exactly, that started my love for reading.  But I DO have some 'Gateway' books and authors who were significant in my reading journey, even if they didn't become my personal favorites at present.

I have divided my "Reading Gateways" into three categories:

Childhood Gateways

1.  Charlotte's Web by E.B. White -- In my recollection, Charlotte's Web was the very first chapter book I read as a child, and my first favorite book, which doesn't amount to much of a favorite since it was pretty much the only chapter book I owned in my childhood.  This was before I discovered libraries or other bookish resource for my reading pleasure, and so I just kept coming back to this book and reading it over and over again.

2.  Nancy Drew mystery series by Carolyn Keene -- I never finished reading this series when I was younger, but I DO remember really liking it a lot.  It was one of my first series read and one of the first set of books that got me interested in mystery.  This particular series just stands out for me for so many reasons.

3.  Little House series by Laura Ingalls Wilder -- Laura Ingalls was a popular author when I was growing up, and her books hit upon a lot of feels and ideals for growing girls during that time period.  As my best friend likes to state, the books give you a warm, tingly feeling with the cozy family settings, the new exploration of moving from one locale to another, and the sweetly adorable stages of young love.  This was one of the first set of books that I became highly obsessed with, and I read the very first book, Little House in the Big Woods over and over again.

In Between Gateways

1.  Michael Crichton and Amy Tan -- These two authors were my first favorite authors when I was in middle school and high school and a little into my college years.  I'm listing both because I'm not entirely sure which author became a favorite first, though I was highly vocal about the two of them being my "Most Favorite Authors Ever!" whenever anyone asked.  Nowadays, some things may have changed, but there's no doubting the impact these two had on my Reading Journey.

2.  Gail Carson Levine | Ella Enchanted | Fairest -- I first fell in love with fairy tale retellings through Ella Enchanted, the movie.  I thought it was the coolest movie ever made, and I was in my adolescent years.  It had all the right elements of cute, romance, excitement, humor, and spunky heroine who saves the day.  And Anne Hathaway might have had something to do with that.  Then I went on to read Ella Enchanted the book, because that was the thing to do.  It was also wonderful.  But what I hadn't counted on was how much more I loved Fairest when I read it.  Fairest is, to date, one of my favorite books.

3.  Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling -- Harry Potter came later in my Reading Journey than it did for most other readers out there.  For me, I discovered Harry Potter the same way that many others did: through the first movie.  From there, I followed in my brother's footsteps and proceeded to read the books that were already published at the time (books #1 to #4).  And from then on, I became so obsessed with the Harry Potter world and the Harry Potter books and the Harry Potter characters.  Harry Potter was my first fandom and, aside from anime, my first fan fiction writings of fictional literature.

Recent Gateways

1.  The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins -- During college, I had little time to read.  I caught a few books here and there, which were mainly fairy tale retellings by Shannon Hale and Gail Carson Levine (during the In Between Gateways years), or a Dean Koontz book every so often.  When I graduated from college and started my adult career, I finally had more leisure time for reading.  And while I'd read a lot of other books as well, The Hunger Games stands out mainly because it was a multi-functional gateway in my reading journey.

The Hunger Games is not my favorite series in the world, nor is it, by any means, the best books in the world.  The first book was written very well with a lot of great controversies and ideals, I'll admit that, and is one of my favorite young adult books to date.  But the series as a whole never really comes up as more significant in my reading life than what it has done for my reading life.
  1. It got me obsessed with Young Adult literature.
  2. It got me hooked on dystopian books/series.
  3. It reintroduced me into reading voraciously--prior to The Hunger Games, I really wasn't as obsessed with books even IF reading was ALWAYS a favorite free time hobby.  Prior to The Hunger Games, I DID read, but it wasn't such a significant part of my life.
  4. It helped me discover book communities such as Goodreads.  Because I was so obsessed with how much I enjoyed The Hunger Games, I did an internet search for similar books that would appease my appetite for dystopian literature, which apparently was becoming the trend at that time.  And that search lead me to Goodreads, which, say what you will about GR politics, but it certainly DOES have one of most vast and useful book databases publicly available on the internet.  My Reading Journey has change immensely ever since stumbling upon it, thanks to The Hunger Games.

2.  Stardust by Neil Gaiman -- This book was the first book I ever reviewed on a public forum, even if it was an extremely short, two paragraph review with little detail.  But it got me started and I began writing reviews randomly ever since.  I currently review about 80% of the books I read and have started book blogging.

3.  Extreme Exposure by Pamela Clare -- I used to look down on romance novels.  It was one of those pretentious prejudices I carried with me since high school and one of my favorite English teachers would pronounce over and over again how romance novels were just trashy.  But as you grow up, you start realizing a lot of things--sometimes even your favorite high school English teacher could be a book snob and not know the first thing about reading for enjoyment.  Now my motto is "Read what you like".

Extreme Exposure and the rest of the Pamela Clare I-Team books was my first foray into the genre of Romantic Suspense.  I've always liked crime thrillers and mysteries, and if there's a little bit of romance on the side, I'm cool with that too.  I am a hopeless romantic after all.  And the genre of Romantic Suspense combines two of my favorite things in literature, and if written well, there's always a great balance of crime thriller and romance to make me extremely happy.  Extreme Exposure was one of the first of many more racy books I'd ever read with explicit sex scenes that wasn't shy about it either.

And I loved it--both the romance, the thriller... and the sex scenes.  And ever since then, I have been less shy about reading Romantic Suspense, or even Category Romance, or even Erotica, despite having turned my nose up at the genres in my youth.  Now, I'm a huge advocate for "Read what you like," and a champion for romance novels, which really don't get taken as seriously as other similar types of books written by men, loved by men.

4.  Neil Patrick Harris: Choose Your Own Autobiography by Neil Patrick Harris -- This was the very first audio book I listened to without first having read the print version.  When I first started listening to audio books, I started with books that I'd already read because I had a feeling I wouldn't be able to keep up without knowing what was going on first.  I had tried to listen to a full audio book of a book I'd never read before, but I didn't finish it because I kept losing track of what I was hearing--it was harder to pay attention when you were able to do other things while listening to the book.  NPH's autobiography was one of the first audio books I'd listened to completion and it was tons of fun.  It is also one of the first non-fiction books I'd consumed as part of my reading diet since college.

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