The Otissito Review

Top Ten "Gateway" Books/Authors

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

This week’s topic involves which books or authors from my past reading I consider to be ones that introduced me to a new genre, a new style of writing, or something else. It took me a little while to think back to some of the first books I read in order to figure out which ones introduced me to new things, but I think I’ve got a decent list.

Heir to the Empire by Timothy Zahn
This book introduced me not only to Timothy Zahn who has become on of my favorite “must read” authors over the years, but to the Star Wars Expanded Universe, which as of today spans well over 100 books. I’ve read them all. If that isn’t what you consider a gateway book, I really don’t know what is to be honest.

First King of Shannara by Terry Brooks
Thinking back, I believe First King of Shannara was my real introduction into the fantasy genre. I want to say I read it on a whim after seeing it on the shelf at the local library during summer vacation one year. I noticed it seemed to be part of a series, and I figured if I liked it I would at least have some more books in the series to read. It was pure happenstance that I grabbed the right Shannara book to start with.

The Eye of the World by Robert Jordan
As I was already established as a fan of fantasy, this book served as my gateway into epic fantasy. Up until a high school friend recommended The Wheel of Time series to me while we shoveled snow in the church parking lot my only exposure to fantasy had been the Shannara books, which while epic in their own right, are not nearly epic on the same scale as The Wheel of Time.

Elantris by Brandon Sanderson
When I was at BYU I learned about this guy who had written a pretty decent book called Elantris and how he was one of the professors on campus. Little did I know that reading the book would expose me to my favorite author up to this point in my life.

The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones by Cassandra Clare
I’ve read all of the Twilight books because my wife asked me to so she could talk to someone about them when she was finished. That just about put me off of the entire paranormal romance YA trend entirely. Then, while visiting my family in Texas a couple of years ago I needed something to read and picked up City of Bones from my little sister’s bookshelf. Turns out, not all paranormal romance YA is terrible, some of it is actually pretty decent. This book was a gateway back into that subset of fiction for me.

Feed by Mira Grant
Zombies aren’t something I’d have expected myself to be interested in reading about, but this book and its unique approach to a zombie outbreak and the political thriller aspect it weaved into it got me thinking that more zombie books might not be the most terrible thing to read if I can find the right ones.

The Forever War by Joe Haldeman
Starship Troopers by Robert Heinlein
These two books are my first real exposure to military-esque science fiction; at least as far as I can remember correctly. My enjoyment of these two books led me to read Old Man’s War by John Scalzi, which in turn led me to his other books. They also led me to giving David Feintuch’s Seafort Saga a try, which we all know I really enjoy. I’m very certain a large amount of military science fiction is in my near future.

The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand
Literary Fiction? Get that out of my face! That was my usual reaction to anything not written in the science fiction or fantasy genres. Then I met a girl, and I wanted to impress this girl, so I asked her while we were at a book store one evening to pick out her favorite book and I would read it over the holiday break before we saw each other again. Her choice? The Fountainhead. If there was ever a plunge directly into the deep end of reading, this was it. Good thing that girl married me.

Lethal Heritage by Michael A. Stackpole
I already knew of Michael A. Stackpole before reading Lethal Heritage and I was a fan of his work, but this book took my fandom to an entirely new level. He introduced me to the BattleTech universe, filled with dozens of books, and a myriad of wonderful characters. I want to read more BattleTech in the next year or two so I can remember those joys.

An unabashed fan of science fiction and fantasy books, television, and movies, he wants desperately to someday finish writing a complete novel from start to finish. Working as a web developer by trade, he owns a mighty collection of Star Wars legos, and is willing to talk about sports more than most are comfortable indulging.


  1. Jay Dee

    April 1, 2014 - 5:36 pm

    I’m not sure I could write a top 10, but I would probably say “The Hobbit” was my gateway book for fantasy, though I really didn’t get into it until I read “The Sword of Shannara.” For planet colonisation sci-fi, I really enjoyed “Dragonsdawn” by Anne McCaffrey.

    Good list. I haven’t read some of them, so I’ll have to check them out.

    • Caleb Flanagan

      April 1, 2014 - 6:47 pm

      I really had to think hard about whether or not I had read The Hobbit before First King of Shannara. I imagine they were pretty close to the same time.

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