C’Mon…Just One Little Read Won’t Hurt You!

The Broke and the Bookish has posited a difficult top ten list for this Tuesday–The Top Ten Books I’d Hand to Someone Who Says He/She Doesn’t Like to Read. Being a bookish nerd who surrounds herself with, you guessed it, other equally bookish nerds, I don’t often run across folks who don’t like to read. I do, however, happen to be married to one.

Here’s his normal reaction to a shelf full of books. Unless it’s filled with technical manuals, beekeeping regulations, or outdoorsy stuff, he flat out ain’t interested. Honestly, for a gifted musician, he sure does dislike anything the slightest bit artistic.

Most of the things I adore, he detests. For example, look at his reaction when I tried to show him a great book on the history of Europe I used when I was a teacher.

The secret to getting a person over bibliophobia is to lure him in with books that might fit his interests. Observe……


Don’t go for the classics…especially the one that he swears, beyond a shadow of a doubt, made him utterly loathe an activity he once enjoyed.


Just because a book is “manly,” it doesn’t mean he’ll be willing to go for it. He gave me the “Really!?” face when I offered him tales replete with swashbuckling and adventure on the high seas. Nope—Moby Dick, The Three Musketeers, and Don Quixote held no interest for him. I think the sheer size off each was a turn off as well.


When I mentioned works that were dystopian in nature, his ears perked up a little. I’ve been trying to sell him on the genre because I really want him to go see The Hunger Games with me next month. (Also, the fact that they were shorter reads overall didn’t hurt!)

1984, Brave New World, Fahrenheit 451 were all taken under consideration. That copy of The Hobbit you see in the back was there for the sake of nostalgia. He’s considering re-reading it in order to be ready for the movie when it comes out on December 14 2012!!!!! (Not that we’re excited or anything…)


So, you see, it’s easier than you think. It might require a little patience and some creative salesmanship, but a person can be brought back from the wordless Dark Side.

Here are ten great books to try with your reluctant reader:

1. The Eyes of the Dragon by Stephen King—I read this one when I was a wee tot and loved it. It’s his only true fantasy book, it’s relatively short, and it has a very visual and action driven plot.

2. Twilight Eyes by Dean Koontz—With a protagonist named Slim MacKenzie who hides in a traveling circus so he can kill the monsters in human skin that only he can see…what’s not to like!?

3. The Zombie Survival Guide: Complete Protection from the Living Dead by Max Brooks—It’s written in a very no-nonsense style and is packed full of description and fun illustrations. If nothing else, your reader will be prepared for the Zombie Apocalypse if it does occur. (It’s something I’ve become increasingly worried about seeing as how I now live in the same city as the CDC. Eeep!)

4. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins—Say what you will, but I actually enjoyed this book and the one that came after it. Mockingjay left a lot to be desired, but what else is new? There are so few truly perfect trilogies.

5. In Cold Blood by Truman Capote—This one is an odd combination of true crime and the fine style usually reserved for fiction. Capote makes this one a book you don’t want to read but you have to finish, if only to try to understand the “why” behind the horrible actions he details.

6. The Hound of the Baskervilles: A Sherlock Holmes Novel by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle—Due to the popularity of the movies (starring the oh-so-unbelievably sexy Robert Downey, Jr.), this one should be an easy sell. It’s action driven with just enough description for you to feel stupid for having missed the obvious clues that Holmes describes to Watson in the concluding chapters. If this is too much, you can also start them off on his short stories.

7. From Russia With Love by Ian Fleming—Any of the Bond novels make for great reads. They’re a little more stylized than the films, but they’re fun reads. People already have a relationship with Agent 007 and know his world, so there isn’t as much fighting to get into the world of the novel as there might be otherwise.

8. Johnny Tremain by Esther Hawkins Forbes—I fell in love with this book in middle school, and I wasn’t the only one. It was a book that made history truly come alive, and it probably explains my life-long obsession with the Revolutionary War.

9. Lord of the Flies by William Golding—I tend to like darker fiction, but this work stunned me when I read it. I kept thinking, There’s no way kids resort to this so quickly. However, looking around the world, it’s pretty easy to see that Golding was on to something. Without rules set up and enforced by polite society, the darker forces in our nature do come out to play. This work is allegorical, which means that everything (and I mean EVERYTHING) is a symbol. However, you can read it and still get a lot out of it not working through the symbolic meanings of people, places, and things.

10. How to Read Literature Like a Professor: A Lively and Entertaining Guide to Reading Between the Lines by Thomas C. Foster—This one might be a good pick for someone who doesn’t like reading because he or she “doesn’t get it.” This book helped me teach several Advanced Placement Literature classes filled with kids who wanted to go deeper into literature but just didn’t feel equipped. Many of them said that this book gave them a working vocabulary to tackle books that scared the crap out of them before. The fact that two of the chapters are titled “It’s All About Sex” and “…Except Sex” didn’t hurt when I was trying to pique their collective interest either. 🙂


I wrote this list with my reluctant reader in mind, but selecting a list of books is pretty easy for someone you know and love. With a little thought and creative enticement, you can go from this…


to THIS!!!

19 thoughts on “C’Mon…Just One Little Read Won’t Hurt You!

  1. …and a “thumbs up” for hubby just ‘cuz he was a good sport.

    If he loses “good sport” status by refusing to take you to “The Hunger Games”, well, I’LL take you to see it (assuming I’m anywhere near your neck of the woods when it hits the theaters)… After all, what’s the good of a dystopian flick if one is lacking someone with whom to discuss this notion: no matter how miserable things are, they can always get worse (also an excellent post-zombie-movie topic of discussion)…

  2. I absolutely love this post! The book picks are great, your library is most impressive and those photos are hilarious! I’d like to add one of my personal favorite books, if I might: “Swan Song” by Robert McCammon, which remains the only book I’ve ever stayed up all night to read.

  3. Great post, Jamie! And darn it, but when I was first thinking about this list, I thought of In Cold Blood, and then I forgot about it. I agree–a great book and a great choice for (some) reluctant readers.

    1. That book both repulsed and allured me. I couldn’t stop reading it. Something about it being true and being written in such a straightforward manner just gave me chills….

  4. I’m trying to get my hands on a copy of The Hunger Games. Without actually having to, you know, buy it. But I can’t get close to a library copy. There are about a bajillion people waiting for it. I may have to break down and buy it, anyway.

    Loved The Eyes of the Dragon. Great book by King. I’ve read a lot of Koontz, and consider myself a pretty big fan, but I haven’t read Twilight Eyes. Have you read the two Christopher Snow books? Fear Nothing and Seize the Night?

    1. It’s in paperback now, which is a little more cost effective.

      I’m a huge Koontz fan, and I think I’ve read most of his stuff (even the things he wrote under pen names). My favorites are Watchers, Twilight Eyes, and From the Corner of His Eye. My favorite characters are Odd Thomas and Deucalion.

      1. Jamie, Not sure if you take suggestions/requests, but if you do:

        1. Could you write a post about your reading. How do you prioritize what you’ll read? Do you have a special reading spot? How do you carve out the time?

        2. Also, like to recommend a book you might like. Ron Hansen’s “Atticus.” I LOVED it several times. A totally artistic retelling of the prodigal.

      2. Excellent! I love book recommendations! I’ll put that on the Goodreads list.

        I hadn’t thought about a post about reading, but that might be one that needs to be done. I don’t read nearly as much as I should I’m sad to say. I set a goal of 50 books for myself this year, and I’m on schedule….so far. Until Moby Dick comes up; then I think I’ll just die.

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