Another Top Ten

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).


Teenage Boy

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.


Teenage Girl

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.


18 thoughts on “Another Top Ten

  1. If you click on the html button when you’re posting and put in html code for size, font or colour or bullet points, then your formatting will work. But that’s probably way too much work!

  2. As far as young adult fiction goes, I’ve heard good things about ‘The Fault in our Stars’ by John Green. I’ve just ordered it for my daughter who’s very hard to please. I’ll let you know what she thinks.

  3. Okay, I love lists like these. I could not agree more with you about Crossing to Safety and A Lost Lady. Crossing to Safety is one of my all-time favorite books. I did not stop crying during the second half of the book, but I thought it was just wonderful! I think I need to try A Room With A View even though Howard’s End was not one of my favorite books. I also want to try Married to Genius. By the way, I started The Little Stranger because of your rave review, and I am a little over a quarter of the way through it; I am really enjoying it! And I have started Daniel Deronda. More in my email to you later this week.

  4. I will have to try one of the non-fiction titles. I do tend to shy away from NF fearing it will be dull and fact-laden. I also want to try a graphic novel some day. I need to dispell that myth that they are just comic books!

  5. This is a very cool list, Litlove… I find myself (not needing any further persuasion at the best of times) really wanting to read, in particular, everything on People Who Fear the Classics and People Who Never Read Non-fiction… as I am on a budget, I must jot these down and present the list to my local librarian…

  6. Oo, I love it! Married to Genius sounds particularly good — I actually love reading about how badly writers treated their families. I am fundamentally gossipy. :/

  7. Having watched “The Walking Dead” myself, I can say it’s not just for teens; I enjoyed season one. Also, for men who don’t read fiction, I had a friend who was like that, and _Tropic of Cancer_ changed his mind, followed by _Something Happened_. Just adding two titles to a well-thought-out list.

  8. I feel thrilled, I’ve read one of the books on your list! I can vouch for The Watchmen- very good, sly, smart, cynical look at today, excellent intro to graphic novels. I need to read some Nancy Mitford, and you make Crossing to Safety sound interesting!

  9. You have an interesting definition of classics. I would agree Forster is a modern classic and don’t know the other two so couldn’t place them but when I think of classics it’s always something older. In which case I would recommend Trollope’s ‘The Warden’ – short and sweet but could easily lead someone to wanting to read all the Barchester Chronicles. I’ve never read Bonjour Tristesse by Francoise Sagan but should. A for Rumpole – what a brilliant choice. I would never have thought of it but the writing is super and the humour great. I’d also recommend P G Wodehouse’s ‘Ice in the Bedroom’ for the man who thinks it’s a waste of time.

  10. You read The City and The City then. YAY! I’m having a little bit of a Meiville love thang at the mo, as his work is so exciting. And like Jenny I am desperately gossipy, so take note of your reminder rec for Married to Genius.

  11. That’s a great list… and, if you’re including graphic novels, then the choices are huge indeed. Further, there are classics in graphic versions now. I’ve seen even Proust’s Remembrance of Things Past on the graphic novel shelf in our public library. I’ve only read one title on your list, A Room With A View. So this is a list for me too. 😉

  12. I love your lists, but I laughed at your categories as well. Haven’t we all met that person who thinks short stories are a waste of time? Your suggestions are wonderful; I am tempted to just throw books at the head until something has an impact. Literally!

  13. I love your list (I like some of them for myself actually 🙂 ). I am happy to see EM Forster and Daphne du Maurier there. How about a book for a twelve–almost thirteen year old girl? I wish my niece liked to read. I have only seen her excited about a few books–in one case she brought home a second copy from school and I read along with her and I have to say it was indeed a fun book. I do think graphic novels are a great way to get nonreaders into books. Does you son like them?

  14. Oh, it would have been a shame to stop at 10: I wholly enjoyed reading your whole list. I’d never have thought of Fowles; maybe I should give that one another try, as I’d been rather put off for some reason, years ago now. Quite likely I was in exactly the WRONG mood for his writing, which is often the case when there’s a serious mis-match between me and a book.

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