Preludes & Noctures: The Sandman, Vol. 1 by Neil Gaiman is the very first graphic novel that I've ever read. Not only did I love it, I was blown away by the awesomeness of it!! The story itself is a first-rate fantasy tale, but the artwork is amazing. I can't remember exactly who the first person was to bring up this series, but I'd lay money on a couple of people: Carl, Chris, and Debi. And because it's a graphic novel, I'm throwing Nymeth in to boot. Because she is one of the people that pushed me into reading a GN in the first place.
Moon Called by Patricia Briggs is the first book in the Mercy Thompson series. There is just something so incredibly appealing to me about books with strong female characters. And Mercy is definitely one of the strongest. This isn't great literature, by any means. But it's escapism at it's best: it's fun, fast, and exciting. I first read about this from Kailana. She reads enough fantasy/paranormal/speculative fiction, that if she likes it, I'm positive I will too!
Looking for Alaska is another book that I give full-credit to bloggers for. It's quite possible the first review of this book came from the phenomenal Dewey. In fact, I'm sure that's the first place I saw it. But since that time, it was Nymeth, Chris, and most recently Debi that pushed me over the edge to read this WONDERFUL book. Have you ever felt like you were a better person for reading a certain book? THIS is one of those books.