A fine notion from Angie: Gateway books. The ones that open up a new genre or subgenre for you.
I actually agree with several of Angie’s choices. Sarah Addison Allen wasn’t my actual intro to magical realism, but she made me a fan of the genre in one quick book — for me The Peach Keeper.
Historical — for me it was probably The King Must Die by Mary Renault:
For mysteries, it might have been Rex Stout:
For fantasy, I have no idea, but Robin McKinley probably played a role. BEAUTY, sure, as Angie says but also The Blue Sword.
I must agree that for UF / Paranormal, it was Mercy Thompson:
Laura Florand opened up romances for me, no question. I basically never used to read romances — I mean contemporary romances — until I started reading Florand’s chocolate romances.
Pretty sure no one is ever going to offer me a gateway book for grimdark or really creepy horror like Lovecraft, though.
How about you? Did you start reading any new-to-you genre or subgenre because of an identifiable author or book?