I remember the moment like it happened yesterday.
Actually, given that I’ve reached that age where I can barely remember yesterday, I remember this pivotal moment like it happened mere seconds ago. In fact, it happened more than 25 years ago.
I was an early almost-teenager. I was also, like many reading this now, a voracious reader who checked a dozen books out of the library every week and devoured them. I had worked my way through the young adult section — although this was before the library actually labeled it that way — and had fallen dearly in love with Ellen Raskin’s books, particularly The Tattooed Potato and Other Clues.
Sadly, I was running out of things to read in that section. Which isn’t to say that there weren’t books on the shelves I hadn’t read, just that The Little House on the Prairie and Go Ask Alice knock-offs held no interest. Nor did the originals, frankly.
I mentioned it to the librarian, who I saw more than my own parents by that point. The librarian led me around the corner of the kids’ section and into a whole new world. I still don’t know who to thank for Northland Library‘s layout: the science fiction and fantasy section was just on the other side of the children’s area.
It was like entering Oz. The first book I pulled off of the shelf was Robert Heinlein’s Friday, the one with the iconic Whelan cover. It was exactly the right book at exactly the right time. My life was forever changed. I can still feel the spine under my fingertips as I pulled the books gentle weight off of the shelf. My grow-up brain has inserted a choir of angels singing hosannahs — but I’m fairly certain that didn’t actually happen.
Who knows what would have happened had mystery been through that doorway. Or self-help. Or romance. But we can’t dwell on what might have been. Friday was my gateway book. From there, I didn’t look back. I also methodically read my way through the shelves, starting with all the Heinleins I could find, then picking up with Asimov and working my way through the section.
I’ve been thinking about that moment a lot, mostly because I know most avid SF/F readers have one that is similar. I’m also noodling about with a book proposal on the subject — but that (and my current feelings about Heinlein (given that I’m both a parent and a female)) is a subject for another day.
And so, the question: what title pulled you into the genre and what made you stay?