Skip to main content

The Door in the Wardrobe, or Angie's Gateway Books

A week or so ago, my dear friend Chachic wrote a delightful post on her top ten gateway books. Ever since, I've been musing over which books would make up my own list. I'm a huge believer in the notion of gateway books—those marvelous titles that find their way into your life and wind up serving as your successful point of entry into an entirely new genre. In my mind, they're the door in the back of the wardrobe leading to Narnia. Appropriately, the first book on my list is unquestionably The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, sent to me by my aunt when I was ten and about to embark anxiously on my own unknown. So here is my list, and as I look at it my mind shies away from the thought of having never discovered even a single one of them. Where possible, I've tried to include the cover of the edition that I first read. Please share one or ten of yours in the comments!


Fantasy
The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis
The line that hooked me:
My Dear Lucy, I wrote this story for you, but when I began it I had not realized girls grow quicker than books. As a result you are already too old for fairy tales, and by the time it is printed and bound you will be older still. But some day you will be old enough to start reading fairy tales again.
Mystery
The Hidden Staircase by Carolyn Keene
The line that hooked me:
I have a hunch.
Scifi
A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle
The line that hooked me:
Speaking of ways, pet, by the way, there is such a thing as a tesseract.
Retelling
Beauty by Robin McKinley
The line that hooked me:
I shunned company because I preferred books; and the dreams I confided to my father were of becoming a scholar in good earnest, and going to University. It was unheard-of several shocked governesses were only too quick to tell me, when I spoke a little too boldly—but my father nodded and smiled and said, "We'll see." Since I believed my father could do anything—except of course make me pretty—I worked and studied with passionate dedication, lived in hope, and avoided society and mirrors.
Historical Fiction
The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare
The line that hooked me:
On a morning in mid-April, 1687, the brigantine Dolphin left the open sea, sailed briskly across the Sound to the wide mouth of the Connecticut River and into Saybrook Harbor. Kit Tyler had been on the forecastle deck since daybreak, standing close to the rail, staring hungrily at the first sight of land for five weeks.
Urban Fantasy
Moon Called by Patricia Briggs
The line that hooked me:
MS. THOMPSON, it said in heavy block letters, PLEASE KEEP YOUR FELINE OFF MY PROPERTY. IF I SEE IT AGAIN, I WILL EAT IT.
New Adult
Secret Society Girl by Diana Peterfreund
The line that hooked me:
Brandon turned a page and kept reading.

"Of course," I went on, taking my seat and swiveling to face him, "you've always been better than me at that. Writing stories on the fly, I mean."

His eyes paused their back-and-forth scanning, and he blinked. "Thanks."

"I'm better at the scrambling."

"You're certainly demonstrating that now."

I swallowed. Too far.

Brandon nodded his head toward a neat stack of manuscripts at the corner of the desk. "Those four are possibilities."

And the Terse Award goes to . . . Brandon Weare. "I'm sorry about last night."

He finally looked at me, for all the good it did. I couldn't tell one thing from his expression. "Which part?"

Any part that hurt his feelings.
Space Opera
Grimspace by Ann Aguirre
The line that hooked me:
I'm just staring at him, mouth half-open. As soon as I realize it, I find something to say, anything.

"Who the hell are you?"

"March," he tells me.

"That a name or an order?"
Magical Realism
The Sugar Queen by Sarah Addison Allen
 The line that hooked me:
For awhile after that, she thought her great-grandparents were surprising her with books. She'd find them on her bed, in her closet, in her favorite hideouts around the property. And they were always books she needed. Books on games or novels of adventure when she was bored. Books about growing up as she got older. But when her great-grandparents confronted her about all the books she had and where did she get the money to buy them, she realized they weren't the ones doing it.

The next day, under her pillow, she found a book on clever storage solutions. It was exactly what she needed, something to show her how to hide her books.

She accepted it from then on. Books liked her. Books wanted to look after her.
Contemporary Romance
Bet Me by Jennifer Crusie
The line that hooked me:
Cal sighed and gave up on the conversation for the rest of the meal. There was a skirmish at the end when Min tried to insist on separate checks, but Cal said, "I invited you, I pay. Back off, woman." She looked as though she were going to argue for a moment, and then she nodded.

"Thank you very much," she told him. "You've given me a lovely meal and a new favorite restaurant," and he felt appreciated for the first time that night.

When they left, she kissed Emilio on the cheek. "Your bread is the greatest, Emilio, but the chicken is a work of art." Then she kissed him on the other cheek.

"Hey," Cal said. "I'm right here. I paid for the chicken."

"Don't beg," Min told him and went out the door.

"Morrisey, I think you just met your match," Emilio said.

"Not even close," Cal said, grateful to be without her for a moment. "This was our first, last, and only date."

"Nope," Emilio said. "I saw the way you looked at each other."

"That was fear and loathing," Cal said, opening the door.

"God, you're dumb," Emilio said, and Cal ignored him and went out into the dark to find Min.
Historical Romance
Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake by Sarah MacLean
The line that hooked me:
She'd so believed he could—that decades marked by disdain for emotion could have been nothing more than a faint memory in his checkered past. That she could love him enough to prove to him that the world was worth his caring, his trust. That she could turn him into the man of whom she had dreamed for so long.

That was perhaps the hardest truth of all—that Ralston, the man she'd pined over for a decade, had never been real. He'd never been the strong and silent Odysseus; he'd never been aloof Darcy; never Antony, powerful and passionate. He had only ever been Ralston, arrogant and flawed and altogether flesh and blood.

Comments

You Might Also Like

Review | The Unselected Journals of Emma M. Lion, Vols. 1 & 2 by Beth Brower

I feel a bit giddy finally talking to you all about this series. If you'll remember, I fell madly in love with The Q when it came out a few years ago. Now, Beth Brower is writing The Unselected Journals of Emma M. Lion—a series of novellas set in London in 1883. Each volume is an excerpt from the incorrigible Emma's journals, and the first two volumes are already available with the third on the way soon. I think they'd make rather perfect pandemic reading. Humorous and charming down to their bones, they're just what the doctor ordered to lift your spirits in this uncertain time that just proves to be too much some days. If you're experiencing one of those days, I suggest giving Volume 1a go (it's only 99 cents on Kindle, $4.99 for a trade paperback copy). It will surprise exactly none of you that I own print and digital editions of both volumes. 
Miss Emma M. Lion has waited long enough. Come hell or high water (and really, given her track record, both are likel…

Review | If I Never Met You by Mhairi McFarlane

It's been years since I picked up a Mhairi McFarlane novel, and I'm not really sure why that is. I liked It's Not Me, It's Youwell enough (it's obvious she's quite a witty writer), but something about the execution felt off and I think I let that keep me from diving deeper into her backlist. Then came an offer to review her upcoming title If I Never Met You, and something about this one seemed to call out to me. As though it was time. As though Laurie and Jamie might be the ones. Spoiler alert: It was and they were. It was the perfect read for a couple of dreary, grey January days. While not perhaps as bubbly as I've Got Your Number, I would definitely recommend it to readers who enjoyed that novel. They share a business setting, two individuals who are more than they know themselves to be, and a wonderfully slow burn romance. Readers who love Sarra Manning and Beth O'Leary's The Flatshareshould also take note.
Comedy was tragedy plus time, but the…

In the Beginning, or the First Ten Books I Reviewed on the Blog

Top Ten Tuesday is a bookish feature hosted at That Artsy Reader Girl
It's been awhile, but this topic was too good to pass up. When I thought about it, I genuinely could not recall which were the first ten books I actually reviewed here on the blog. So then, of course, I had to know. The thing is, I originally started the whole thing simply posting a once a month list of my favorite reads and rereads of the month. That went on for some time until lo and behold I went ahead and wrote and posted my first review on November 9, 2007. In hindsight, I probably should have known exactly which book pushed me over the edge into full fledged reviews. So this was a rather delightful journey back in time. Do you remember the first book you ever reviewed (in any forum) or what made you take the plunge? Here are my first ten (and I have to say, looking at this snapshot from the past, these remain some of my absolute favorite authors and a pretty spot-on array of the genres I read and love tod…