REPOST--Books for Non-Readers

That picture is a description of my life.  But, so many people say they don't like to read, or they haven't read since they left school.  I was taught to love reading before I could even read on my own.  My mom and dad would read my siblings and me bedtime stories every night.  Through him, I learned that reading can transport you through time and space to lands you would never otherwise journey to.  So, whenever I hear that someone does not like to read, it hurts my heart.  It seems to me that people who claim to not like to read, just haven't found a book that captures them, that transports them, that makes them experience something they wouldn't otherwise.  Since this is a blog for book lovers, I doubt any non-readers are seeing this.  But, maybe you bookies that are reading this know someone in your life who could benefit.

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
This book is one for the ages.  If you haven't heard of it, you should meet Brendan Fraser's character from Encino Man.  You'd have a lot in common.  Why should you not just see the movie?  Because, as always, the book is worlds better and gives you a lot of information that is missing from the film.  This is set in a post apocalyptic America, renamed Panem.  The remaining population has been divided into 12 "districts" and ruled by The Capitol.  To remind them of their past misdeeds, the Capitol requires a contest,  called The Hunger Games, each year featuring a boy and girl "tribute" from each district to compete in a fight to the death.  Our heroine, the teen-aged Katniss, volunteers to take her 12 year old sister's place in the games.  The resulting plot is an action-packed, heartbreaking story of Katniss's journey through the Games.  I know what you are thinking.  "But, I don't want to read a kid's book!"  Let me assure you that, Young Adult categorization or not, this book is a must.  After reading it, I recommended it to my 31 year old husband, my 59 year old father, my 65 year old aunt, my 21 year old sister, and my 19 year old brother.  To a man (or woman), they all LOVED it and begged me to borrow the two sequel books.  Yes folks, this is a trilogy.  And, I can guarantee that you won't be able to read just one.  Collins' books are quick, easy and engaging reads.  And, at approximately 300 pages per book, they aren't overwhelming to a non-reader.

The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton
Admittedly, this is one of my favorite books of all time, so I'm a little biased.  But, I truly believe that this book is a must read for all teenagers and adults alike.  We can all relate to the titular Outsiders, or Greasers as they are called in the books.  Think Fonzie from Happy Days, but actually somewhat threatening.  The narrator of the book is 14-year-old Ponyboy Curtis.  He's a budding track star with an aptitude for writing.  He's also an orphan Greaser living with his two older brothers.  Ponyboy's story is one that will forever change your perception of kids from the wrong side of the tracks.  Ponyboy, his brothers, Darry and Sodapop, and their friends learn some hard life lessons throughout the course of the story.  They are lessons we've all learned, although, probably not in as dramatic a context as these boys.  Since this book was written when the author was 16, it is written in a simple, easy to read style that is much like listening to Pony tell his story, rather than reading it.  And, even the slowest of readers will be able to get through these 192 pages in no time.  In fact, I know a middle school special education teacher, who teaches this to her classes every year.  Most of these kids can barely read at all and every year, they all proclaim it their favorite book ever.  If those kids can read and love this book, you can too!

A Time To Kill.jpg
A Time to Kill by John Grisham
I don't know about you, but I can't pass up a crime thriller.  Books, movies, TV shows, I love them all.  If there are cops, lawyers and/or a trial, count me in.  A Time to Kill is one of my favorites from this genre.  Plus, a Grisham book was the first "grown-up" book I ever read, so I've always got a special place in my heart for his books.  This is an extraordinary tale of a small town Mississippi dealing with a trial that teeters on the edge of disaster.  The trial is against Carl Lee Hailey, a black man accused of murdering the two white men who committed a vicious crime against his ten year old daughter, Tanya.  Carl Lee hires a young, local attorney named Jake Briggance to defend him.  Jake is completely over his head in this trial, battling the Klan, riots, incompetent witnesses, and an ambitious district attorney.  But, he and Carl Lee press on forming an unlikely friendship that makes Jake determined to win Carl Lee's case.  The story that unfolds is so engrossing, you'll lose track of time.  Grisham's style is very easy to read.  There are some legal terms and situations that you might need to know.  But, if you've watched a few episodes of Law & Order, you'll be just fine.  The thing I like the most about this book is that it makes you think.  There are a lot of questions raised and perceptions changed through the course of the book.  I know I probably just lost some of you with that.  But, I promise it's worth the read.

Cover has a drawing of a winged dragon with a long tail at the bottom.
The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
This book was the first that showed me that books can transport you to another world.  Yes, it's written in Old English, yes it's a fantasy book, yes it was intended as a children's book.  None of these things should deter you from reading this wonderful piece of work.  My dad would read it to my siblings and me, when we were as young as 3 and 4.  Usually we'd request it multiple times a year.  Now that we are grown, he still reads it once a year for himself.  The lead character, Bilbo Baggins, is an everyman...err..everyhobbit.  He is perfectly content with his life and his home, until 13 dwarves and a wizard come knocking at his door.  Then, the sense of adventure that has always been lingering about him, setting him apart from other hobbits, is brought to life.  He embarks on a journey that will change his life, and the lives of all around him, forever.   Tolkien is a master storyteller.   His world is so fleshed out that you have absolutely no trouble believing that there is a place somewhere with hobbits, elves, dwarves, dragons and wizards.   His writing is easily understood and so compelling.  There is a reason this book is required reading in many countries across the world.  There is also a reason that this book will soon join its sequel, The Lord of the Rings, in a film adaptation.  I have no doubt that they too will be some of the highest grossing movies of all time.  So, you'd best get reading, before these books are grabbed up by the ravenous new fans that just HAVE to read this book when the first movie comes out in December. 

Any Book by James Patterson
Like The Hunger Games, all of Patterson's books are fast-paced and completely enthralling.  His chapters are short (2-5 pages. Anyone can read that!) and the overall length is usually around 300 pages.  So, they are perfect for a novice reader.  In fact, if ever you could say reading a book was like watching a TV show or movie, it would be about a Patterson book.  Most of his books have everything, drama, mystery, comedy and usually a little bit of romance as well.  As a starting point, I'd recommend the first book in Patterson's most popular series, Along Came A Spider, a kidnapping story where you are introduced to the series' hero, Alex Cross.  If Alex's story can't hook you, nothing can!  The Alex Cross books will keep you busy for a while; there are 17 of them!  The Patterson books are geared more to an adult reader, but a teenage reader wouldn't find anything they haven't seen in any number of procedural TV shows.  If mysteries aren't really your cup of tea, Patterson does have a few romance books and a handful of historical fiction and non-fiction books. Also, if you are trying to get your younger kids into reading, then I would recommend the Maximum Ride series or the Witch and Wizard series.  Both take place in a slightly altered version of America and have a little bit of supernatural edge to them to keep kids interested.  Patterson is actually very involved in the movement to get kids to read and frequently sponsors offers for free kids books when an adult book is purchased.  You can't go wrong with a Patterson book.


Honorable Mentions
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee 
A powerhouse civil rights story told through the eyes of a child.

The Godfather by Mario Puzo
The novel that started it all.  Yes, the film is a classic.  The book is better.

The Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling
Except book 5, skip that one.  Harry is a whiny asshole in that one.

Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen
Romance, comedy, drama, circus animals; how can you go wrong?

The Lord of the Rings Trilogy by J.R.R. Tolkien
I know, a Tolkien book is already on this list.  That's how good Tolkien is.

Different Seasons by Stephen King
The Shawshank Redemption, Stand By Me and Apt Pupil all in one book!

Mystic River/Shutter Island/Gone Baby Gone by Dennis Lehane
Pick one or all three, they are all great.

The Silence of the Lambs/Hannibal/Red Dragon/Hannibal Rising by Thomas Harris
            Go deeper into the mind of one of cinema’s scariest villains.

Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk
This is Jack's utter lack of surprise that you haven't read this book.

Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton  
You don't get to see the dinosaurs, but it's still worth it.

And in closing, I leave you with this quote by George R.R. Martin, the author of the series, A Song of Ice and Fire (aka: the books that Game of Thrones is based on):

"A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies. The man who never reads lives only one."

What about you?  What would your recommendation be?


  1. I love this! A good book will take me completely out of this world and transport me into a world I didn't know existed, and I can't imagine not having that in my life.

    I remember reading The Outsiders for one of my high school classes, and it was one of those books that my non-reader friends actually read and loved, and I was so excited for them! (They usually figured out how to get out of the required reading somehow.)

    Stay gold, Ponyboy.

  2. I have read all those books, but I'll admit maybe not for quite some time. They may be due for a reread sometime soon. Some of the honorable mentions are missing from my "read" pile. Thanks for the recommendation.

  3. I love your recommendations. There’s something for everyone! I see a few I’ve never read that I need to add to my list.

    I used to look forward to a new Michael Crichton book coming out every other December, so I could read it during my holiday travels. I read Jurassic Park during one holiday (before the movie) and was hooked on everything he ever wrote after that.

    And I just love that GRR Martin quote! So true!

  4. I have read The Outsiders only a year ago and loved it.The Hobbit is a favorite of mine and I always connect it with another book (which have no real connection) just because I read them at the same time-Watership Down by Richard Adams.The only one I haven't read is James Patterson and you are not the first to tell me to read his stories,it's on my huge pile of to read list.Wonderful post.

  5. First off brilliant Anne. I really enjoyed reading you post. I haven't ready either the Hunger Games or James Patterson. Hunger Games has been on my to read list for a while and I will give James Patterson a whirl. Love that you have a George R.R. Martin quote and I personally would give it an honourable mention to his fantastic A Song of Ice and Fire. Also another series I really enjoyed was "Tomorrow When the War Began" by John Marsden. They are YA, but great reads.

  6. I love this informative post, Anne! Also, the first picture is so apt! Too many times, I have stayed awake reading and forced myself to go to sleep at 5 A.M., knowing that I have to wake up at 7 A.M. I have never regretted one of those nights. :-)

  7. "It seems to me that people who claim to not like to read, just haven't found a book that captures them, that transports them, that makes them experience something they wouldn't otherwise. " Well, I couldn't agree more!! This is so true and wonderfully said - I HAD to print it out and will be haning it with BIG letters onto my library :-)

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts!!

  8. That George R.R. Martin quote is absolutely one of my favorite quotes ever. I too am a life-long reader and can't imagine my life without books. People that say they hate reading never fail to baffle me and I REALLY am the person that annoys everyone by saying how much better the book was than the movie. In fact, I'm the person that annoys everyone by detailing exactly why and how the book was better than the movie. Sometimes at great length and very often accompanied by ranting and cursing about certain things the movie left out that I felt should have been included (yes, I'm looking at you, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince!).

    A lot of great recommendations in this list. LOTR and The Hobbit were some of my favorite reads back when I was a teenager. Harry Potter made me believe in magic and is one series that I will almost cry just thinking about certain aspects of it. When that last movie was released I did cry because it honestly felt like an era of my life had ended. (I'd say don't skip book 5 though because then you'll miss being a blubbering mess because of Sirius and who wants to miss an opportunity to be a blubbering mess!? Plus there are important aspects in every book of that series for me and I couldn't imagine skipping any of them).

    And The Hunger, so, so good. I don't care what a book is classified as...good is good. And that book, well those books, are great! I couldn't put them down when I read them almost a year ago.

    The Chronicles of Narnia and Harry Potter are two series that I have tried to push my non-reading little sister into trying. ... She hasn't read them yet, but I'm not giving up hope. :)

    1. Thanks Lisa! Phoenix is almost worth it just for the Sirius bits, but Harry is just so irritating in that book.

      I actually haven't read the Narnia books, except the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. Those are going to be my audio books of choice after the series I'm listening to now.


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