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?