In Speculative Fiction the action of the story can take place in a culture that never existed, a world we know nothing of, or an earth that might have been or might be, to name a few. ... This distinctiveness is best illustrated in the primary question asked by the writers of Speculative Fiction,
"What if?" ... this genre has a special capacity to deal with the human equation.
Read six books within the speculative fiction umbrella. That is: fantasy, sci-fi, alternative history and magic realism.
My path is A Theoretical Handbook For the Unseasoned Speculator: otherwise known as the speculative fiction buffet, meaning a mixture of all genres.
4 fantasy: Tamora Pierce's "Wild Magic" quartet:
The Realms of the Gods
2 alternative history: "The Dark is Rising" by Susan Cooper
"Noughts and Crosses" by Malorie Blackman.
Alternatives are "Rebel Angels", "The House of the Spirits", "Ironweed", "Xenocide" or the next Thursday Next novel (I've read the two first), but if time gets short, I'll add another fantasy book instead - like "Lords and Ladies".