It’s top 10 Tuesday time again, folks. This week’s list from The Broke and the Bookish is…
April 1: Top Ten “Gateway” Books/Authors In My Reading Journey
1. Roald Dahl – Everything
Like many British children, I grew up reading a lot of Roald Dahl. These fantastical worlds that were sometimes scary, often funny and so full of normal details totally absorbed me and are some the first stories I really remember.
2. Malorie Blackman – Everything
Malorie Blackman’s stories introduced me to the world of intelligent adventure stories. Her heroes and heroines are smart and resourceful and her books really stand out to me as how children’s action stories should be written.
3. Noel Streatfeild – Ballet Shoes
This book is my ultimate childhood favourite and serves as an example of pretty much everything I like in other favourites. It taught me that actually, not much has to happen for a story to be interesting and I still gravitate towards quiet, character filled books that try to convey something more intangible and philosophical.
4. Dodie Smith – I Capture the Castle
This book bridged the gap for me between reading books for children and books for adults. I Capture the Castle is not exactly a children’s book, but there’s an innocence and coming of age element that isn’t quite adult, either. I first read it at about 14 and have loved it ever since.
5. Stephanie Meyer – Twilight series
I know, you guys. I KNOW. But look, Twilight had just started to gather attention in the UK the summer I finished university. After three years of reading many, many books for the sole reason of critically appraising them (though there were some amazing books in there), Twilight was the first book I read purely for the pleasure of reading post-uni. I got totally swept up in it and it brought me back into reading for fun again.
6. Megan McCafferty – Jessica Darling series
This series was the one that really taught me what a strong and valuable genre of writing YA could be and how it can still resonate as an adult. Jessica meant a lot to me at a time when I needed a tough heroine to inspire me and it stopped me from discounting YA as reading material.
7. Margaret Attwood – The Handmaid’s Tale
Dystopian fiction is one of my favourite genres and The Handmaid’s Tale was the first one I read. I love Attwood’s intelligent re-imagining of the future and the questions it poses. This book also has a special place in my memory as an early connection I made to feminist ideas.
8. Kazuo Ishiguro – Never Let Me Go
I would never, ever have said that I would enjoy science fiction but the marvellous Kazuo Ishiguro proved me totally wrong. Never Let Me Go is a beautiful book that asks so many questions of us as a society, as, like all good sci-fi, it’s about far more than just the futuristic element at the centre.
9. Bernard Cornwell – Sharpe’s Rifles
Another genre I never imagined I would read was historical military fiction, but I really enjoyed Sharpe’s Rifles and the few others I’ve read since. I originally picked up these books because my grandfather really wanted to give them to me, but found myself totally caught up in the story and action – they are very, well…blokey, but are also fast paced, exciting and full of action.
10. Charles Dickens – Great Expectations
Surprisingly for a literature student, I had never read any Dickens prior to my final year of university. I had seen adaptations of his work as a child, but found them frightening and scary, leading to a continuing perception that they were dull, miserable and not for me. In my third year, we were assigned Great Expectations as part of our Victorian Literature module and it turned out to be funny, lively, absorbing and really, really good. It made me a dedicated Dickens fan (well, that, and my professor reading the first few pages aloud to us and doing an amazing Magwitch voice)