Books that could make you a reader
"Gateway books" for when you're ready to start reading, or want start reading again.
I was recently catching up on one of the only podcasts I listen to regularly, Currently Reading, and they chatted about “gateway books,” that is books that can get you hooked on reading. Kaytee and Meredith’s discussion got me thinking about my gateway books, the books that showed me the beauty and wonder of reading.
These aren’t classics or books you “should” read. These are books that—if you give them an honest chance and approach them on their own terms—might show you the delight that can be found in written stories.
So if you’re in a reading slog, or want to read but nothing has “worked,” one of these titles might be a fit for you. I’m sharing them below with a one sentence summary from me, plus a quote from an Amazon review.
What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty
A woman loses her memory shortly before her 40th birthday and is forced to make sense of her present life through the perspective of her 30-year-old self.
From @Darlene on Amazon:
“What Alice Forgot” is so much more than a woman losing her memory. It's much deeper than that tackling issues of marriage, infertility, children, infidelity, love, and family. If you could go back ten years in your life and look ahead, would you be happy with the person you've become? Are you the person you would have wanted to be? I think as we're living our day-to-day lives we really don't think about all the changes that are occurring but if you really stop and look back you realize that you were very likely a much different person ten years ago than you are today. That's what this novel does for us - it lets us take a look back and evaluate who we are today and whether or not we're very happy with who we've become. Maybe it even gives us a chance to make some changes to our own lives to make it better.
The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Mayer
Classic fairy tales get a futuristic, dystopian-adjacent makeover in this fun, engaging YA series; and this series must be read in order.
From @ E Herr on Amazon:
The Lunar Chronicles is technically perfect. Really. The writing and pacing is flawless. The action and mystery keeps you engaged and reading, the romance is age-appropriate and just subtle but romantic. The technology, science fiction and fantasy details are so plausible, which is hard to pull off - I've read a lot of sci-fi/fantasy novels that truly fall short here. So many things to love! I love how the books all build and add a new set of characters without losing sight of the original characters, so by the last book you have a whole group of complex and well built characters and back-stories. I love that it just HINTS to the fairy tales - it is not a retelling. I love that. Anyway, read this series! Well done, thank you Marissa Meyer! You have to thank the author for all their amazing, hard work, right? This is something special.
A Share in Death by Deborah Crombie
The first in Crombie’s Kincaid/James mysteries, PD Duncan Kincaid heads off for a getaway in England’s Peak District only to be met with a murder at the bed and breakfast.
From @ Holly on Amazon:
As far as style, it's more of a traditional English mystery than anything else. The main characters work for Scotland Yard so there is a realism than is often lacking in the more cozy style book - there isn't anything cutesy or gimmicky They aren't full of blood and gore like many in the thriller genre include.
The book is engrossing and difficult to put down, leaving the reader wondering what the new twist or turn is going to be in the next chapter. Highly recommended for fans of good, intelligent mysteries - a bit of mystery combined with well-written literary prose.
Call the Midwife by Jennifer Worth
While offering an intimate look at the poverty and beauty of London’s East End post-WWII, Worth also thoughtfully traces her spiritual journey through her work with the East Enders alongside the midwifery nuns of St. Raymond Nonnatus.
I found this really good on audio.
From @Lorna Payne on Amazon:
“The writing is simply stunning both as narrative and social history...it took a week out of my life because I was so drawn to read everything she wrote. I don't think her writing is condescending, as others have suggested, just that her previous life, as most of ours, had not prepared her for the depths of poverty, abuse and filth in which many of her clients gave birth: even her training had not prepared her for that. I think her wring is keenly observed, flows well and moves well between her life as a new midwife and the sometime lengthy back stories of the people she meets… These books will stand, not just as a personal memoir of a career as a midwife, but as a very valuable social history of a time airbrushed out of London history, buried under the glamour of Docklands flats and the money and power in Canary wharf. We need to remember these lives, so lovingly presented by Jennifer Worth as only 50 odd years ago, and at a time when much of Britain ‘had never had it so good.’”
Stand All The Way Up by Sophie Hudson
Chock-full of stories (ranging from hilarious to poignant) told in the Southern tradition, the subtitle says it best: “stories of staying in it when you want to burn it all down.”
Also, you must listen to this book on audio.
From @ Kristen on Amazon:
“For the ones tempted to burn it all down. Reading this book is like a conversation with a dear friend. Sophie is a consummate storyteller and honest guide, full of wisdom and hilarious hot takes. I laughed, I cried and I stopped to think. Even though warmth and intimacy exudes from the pages, you'll be encouraged to put down the book and engage your real-life friends and community. I was encouraged to extend grace, to stand up when needed and to look at my own junk with honesty. What a great book for the year of our Lord 2020.”
“Read what gives you delight, and do so without shame.”
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