Books That Opened Up A Genre

I thought this Goodreads article was interesting and it got me thinking about books that got me interested in a new genre.

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The first book that got me hooked on the Golden Age of Detective Fiction (I was already well acquainted with TV shows/movies based on Golden Age mystery novels) was Murder Must Advertise

Murder Must AdvertiseMurder on the Orient Express 9899381 3144727 181133 5956658

My mum introduced me to this genre. I would watch old mysteries with her as a kid and she let me borrow her copy of Murder Must Advertise. I like the book exchange I have with my parents. I actually introduced her to one of her beloved series: Harry Potter…even though I never ended up finishing the series and she did! hah


The first book I ever finished in the genre of Popular Economics…(which I group with pop-psych and pop-sci) was Freakonomics

Freakonomics40102

I also share books with my dad! But usually of the non-fiction variety. My dad had been telling me about Freakonomics ages before I’d actually pick it up. He’d given it to my gran (his mum) who never cared for it much (and told him so) and I found it in a box from her attic. I was curious—I’d heard it was good and it sounded right up my alley anyway—so I asked my gran if I could borrow it (she told me to just keep it) and I loved it! The unusual trail of information that winds in unexpected but very logical ways is fascinating. Then I introduced my dad to Malcolm Gladwell who he can’t get enough of. Win win situations for everybody! YAY!


A series that made me want to get further into Middle-Grade was A Series of Unfortunate Events

Lemony Snicket23302416Witches Don't Do Backflips

Middle-grade books are always a good pick for a light feel-good reading experience (usually) with morals and happy endings. Now that I think about it, this is a series my dad introduced me to that isn’t non-fiction. He got me a few books from A Series of Unfortunate Events when I was in primary school, but I never finished them. I’m slowly getting back on the case though. I’ve listened to books 1-4 on audiobook and really love it. Thank you, library. I’d like to own all the audiobooks at some point, though. Having read other middle-grade books like Wonder and fondly remembering series like Adventures of the Bailey School Kids makes me want to get back into the fun, low-stakes adventures that the middle-grade category (because it’s not really a genre) provides.


The first book that got me into High Fantasy was The Hobbit and then Sabriel reminded me of that sort of fantastic adventure approached with an admirable practicalness.

Hobbit_coverkali_sabriel

Now, I don’t read a ton of high fantasy…though my reading spreadsheet tells me a read much more fantasy than I’d previously thought..! But I am someone who values pragmatism quite highly. Maybe that’s obvious by my interest in non-flashy mysteries and non-fiction… But I also love really fun, beautiful, lived-in fantasy worlds! So when you marry practical characters with well-fleshed out world and solid storytelling…well, I’m sold. The Hobbit was my initial introduction to high fantasy literature and Sabriel recently rekindled my desire to read more of it.


John Steinbeck is a genre, right? Yes, he is. And Of Mice and Men lead me there.

Of Mice and Men the moon is down

OK! So when I first read The Pearl in high school, I thought it was okay, but I was overall fairly indifferent. I picked up Of Mice and Men because it was slim and the cover was pretty……and then I fell so hard in love. Dang! I love the straightforward, deceptively simple way Steinbeck writes and the heavy meaning hidden just beneath the surface. It feels raw and authentic and sombre and plain and beautiful and ordinary and deep and everything all at once. But I’m going to stop before my fangirling starts getting out of hand. I’m excited to read more from him. I’ve even bought special cute tissues for when the inevitable waterworks start :’) Oh man!

 

I always thought of Urban Fantasy as kind of cheesy until I read started reading The Raven Boys series by Maggie Stievfater.

15995747The Dream Thieves, Maggie Stiefvater, urban fantasy, YABlue Lily, Lily Blue

I thought this would be one of those ‘guilty pleasure’ genres where it’s kind of dumb, but easy to read and sort of entertaining for a bit (like Liv, Forever which I don’t recommend unless you don’t mind wasting some time on something very silly which I sometimes do…). But no! This is my kind of urban fantasy. The world feels very old…and interesting…but it’s modern. I’m not sure how to explain the essence of this, but I’m totally digging it and I wish it were easier to find this kind of thing. And, if you saw my review of the first book, this book restored some of my confidence in YA as a category. It’s not half-assed and cheap. Stievfater’s storytelling and characters(!) are so good. If I finish the fourth book when it comes out next year, that will be the first series I’ve ever finished in my whole life. Crazy, right?

 

The first story that got me into Modern Fairytales was Leigh Bardugo’s The Witch of Duva

BookByItsCoverNikki2little knife

…followed by The Too-Clever Fox and Little Knife which just made me want more! I read an excerpt from The Grisha series and I wasn’t feeling it. That isn’t to say I didn’t like it, just that it wasn’t quite what I was after. What I want is a book of 100 fairytale-ish stories from Leigh Bardugo in the style of her tor.com shorts. Is that too much to ask? OK. I’ll settle for 99 stories. It’s old-worldly, it’s fanciful, it’s feminist. I’m here for that.

 

I never thought I was that into Contemporary Crime/Thriller novels, but Natsuo Kirino changed my mind with Out.

Out by Natsuo Kirino In the Miso Soup 20629795

Like I mentioned before, I’ve always been more of a Golden Age Mystery kind of lady. I never felt like gritty contemporary stuff was my thing. I thought it got a bit self-indulgent and mired in dated description that went on too long. But, while Out was longer than the average quick GAM novel, its fast-pace wasn’t jarring and where GAM novels play on my charm/quaintness receptors, Out’s characters and twists and turns hooked me. I have a strong feeling part of the appeal is its being Japanese. The stories have an added element of passively learning about somewhere else that makes it feel aaaaalmost slightly like an urban fantasy…if you know what I mean? Similar novels I’ve read (though not liked as much to varying degrees..) have been In the Miso SoupA Wild Sheep Chase and Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World (all by two different Murakamis ha).

 

What books have been gateways into whole genres for you?

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5 Responses to Books That Opened Up A Genre

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  4. DoingDewey says:

    I think Freakonomics was my first pop econ book too 🙂

    • Nicole says:

      It’s a good reminder to really think about what statistics might really mean and not just what people use them to make you think they mean…!
      I haven’t got around to Superfreakonomics or Think Like A Freak yet but I’m sure I will at some point.

      They’ve got a podcast too which I’ve listened to an episode of and found interesting…But I think I might prefer reading their books. If you’re interested, some other “smart thinking” (as Waterstones labels the genre) podcasts I would recommend are Stuff You Should Know, No Such Thing As A Fish (from the ‘QI Elves’) and RadioLab.

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