Several years ago, back before he started writing the last three Wheel of Time books, Brandon Sanderson was kind enough to take a half hour out of his time at Book Expo America to talk to me about writing. I was just starting my writing journey, and he was well on his way. I don’t know if he’ll remember the conversation, but I will never forget it. Apart from learning about his experiences, apart from having a real author talk to a nobody like me, and apart from the words of wisdom he passed along, what still stands out is the part of the conversation where we talked about the books we’ll always cherish.
I told him I wasn’t much of a reader until I picked up The Hobbit and that, in all honesty, combined with The Lord of the Rings was what sealed the deal. He nodded sagely and said (paraphrasing—it WAS a long time ago) that that’s how it always works. A reader usually finds what he called a “gateway book” to make him/her a reader. For me, The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings were absolutely my gateway books.