Top Ten Books I’d Hand To Someone Who Says They Don’t Like To Read
This comes from The Broke and the Bookish, but I thought I would add a few teeny distinctions here, by adding categories of people who tend not to read (or only read certain kinds of books).
Oho, I know all about this one, having wracked my brains over my own son. Recently, though, I have finally cracked it. You have to go the graphic novel route, or at least comic book compilation route:
Showcase Presents: The Flash
Everyone wants to be the Flash, goodness, even I want to be the Flash. What a superpower! Lots of fast and furious retro fun to be had here and no upsetting violence.
The Walking Dead by Robert Kirkman
All the teenage boys I know are watching this television series, and the series of graphic novels it comes from goes into far, far more depth. For all those zombie lovers out there, who long to have a machete by their bed, just in case.
Watchman – by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons
Not my cup of tea, but by all accounts one of the best, intellectually challenging, gory graphic novels out there.
Supposing you want to tempt a teenage girl away from an endless diet of Twilight-type books? Or persuade one to read at all:
Bonjour Tristesse by Francoise Sagan
The ultimate disaffected teenager novel, or rather novella, as it’s a short, sharp little thing. Love and betrayal on the beaches of the South of France.
My Cousin Rachel by Daphne du Maurier
I almost put Rebecca, but this is a shorter, tighter novel with just as much suspense and intrigue.
Love In A Cold Climate by Nancy Mitford
Witty, bittersweet novel that may remind teenagers that their parents (and probably their grandparents by now) went through the same trials and tribulations in love as they do, only without the benefit of central heating.
Man Who Thinks Reading Stories Is A Waste of Time
Of course, the non-fiction route may be the simplest way to go, but as an alternative:
The French Lieutenant’s Woman by John Fowles
This Victorian postmodern pastiche about a love story between a rather righteous young scientist and the moral outcast of a small town doesn’t sound on the face of it like something anyone would like. But it’s briliantly done, and the men I know who’ve read it have really enjoyed it.
The Rumpole Stories by John Mortimer
These acid sharp little capers around the law courts feature everyone’s favourite curmudgeon, the grumpy but ethically reliable Rumpole. Very funny, deceptively easy to read, but intriguing about the law.
The City and the City by China Mieville
A clever novel defying categorisation but drawing from science fiction, fantasy and crime fiction. The body of a murdered foreign woman causes a headache for Inspector Tyador Borlú, whose realm of investigation turns out to be far more complicated than we suspect. Not at all a pretentious book, I should point out, but imaginatively rich.
People Who Fear The Classics
For those people who say, oh but I only like a bit of escapism and I couldn’t bring myself to read one of those awful heavy books from decades ago.
A Room With A View by E. M. Forster
Could there be a sunnier, funnier, jollier novel than this? And Forster’s perfect prose elevates the story to classic heights.
Crossing to Safety by Wallace Stegner
Who says there are no books about happy marriages? Two marriages become the focus of this novel, set in an American university and following the life journeys of these four friends. Hand over to the reader with a bumper box of tissues.
A Lost Lady by Willa Cather
In her crystalline prose, Cather charts the obsession of one young man with an older woman, the wife of the local railroad magnate. From youthful idealisation, he follows her through her social downfall and beyond.
People Who Never Read Non-Fiction
Because it’s too hard, dull, boring, etc.
Married to Genius by Jeffrey Meyers
A series of biographical portraits of authors and their significant others. I’ve read several books like this but Meyers is still the best, I think. The life stories are enough to make your toes curl up, and Meyers draws on the fictional stories with a light touch, avoiding making claims that seem excessive.
Fierce Attachments by Viven Gornick
One of the best memoirs I’ve read, this concise and gripping book concerns Gornicks love-hate relationship with her overbearing, controlling, courageous mother.
The Man Who Ate Everything by Jeffrey Steingarten
When he accepted the job of food writer for American Vogue, Jeffrey Steingarten knew he would have to renounce any long-standing food fads. Once he’s got over his distaste for clams and anchovies he travels the world, eating all manner of things from Korean pickled cabbage to french fries in horse fat. Funny essays that are quietly informative and challenging.
Ok, so that may be more than ten, but it’s in a good cause! Plus, I use gender distinctions here, but there is no necessity to do so. Teenage girls may be more interested in The Walking Dead than Nancy Mitford, for instance. But one has to start somewhere with categorisation. And if there are still problems with formatting, well GAH! WordPress drives me nuts the way it ruins my formatting when it saves.