Top Ten Books I’d Hand to Someone Who Says They Don’t Like Reading

This (sort of) weekly meme brought to you by The Broke and the Bookish! Sorry we’ve been lame about posting stuff here regularly. You know how it is with Christmas and full time jobs and trips to China and blahblahblah. The usual seasonal business, right? Well, let’s get to it!

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again – those who “don’t like to read” just haven’t picked up the right book. After my first instinct to slap those people with the gall to say such things is silently quashed, my second instinct usually kicks in – and that’s to think of a really good recommendation. So here’s my list of books I’m pretty sure could turn anybody. Enjoy!

My sister refuses to read them. But I can live with that, since she’s still an avid reader.

The Harry Potter series, J. K. Rowling. It’s a no brainer. They inspired the video game generation to pick up novels instead, and for that author J.K. Rowling will always be a literary hero. Not only are these novels heartfelt and carry a good overall message (your personal feelings about boy wizards aside), they’re fantastically plot-driven and funny, too.

Can we agree: good book with least appealing cover ever?

The Catcher in the Rye, J. D. Salinger. This classic isn’t just well-written and paced – it’s honest, funny, sad, and angsty. All the things we love about books and their characters!

Shiver me timbers, you’ve gotta read this for the ending if nothing else.

Life of Pi, Yann Martel. If this wasn’t a good book you’d be hearing more people saying “it was sooo boring, they just sat in the middle of the ocean the whole time!” But that’s not the case, is it? Actually, that is what happens; a boy and a tiger bob on the ocean for most of it. AND YET!: it’s a page-turner. The magic of good writing, people. (Read the review here.)

I inhaled this series!

The Tea Rose, Jennifer Donnelly. Part romance, part gory murder mystery, this historical novel (set in East London in 1888) is fast-paced and well written. The characters and various points of view are varied and interesting, and the book is one of those you won’t be able to put down after the first chapter.

But be careful…touch it and you’ll fall into a whole other world.

Outlander, Diana Gabaldon. Much as I hate to say it, another guilty pleasure read has to make it to this list. Like the aforementioned Tea Rose, this one’ll glue you to its pages with endless cliffhangers, a very specific and well-researched time and place in history, and characters who will end up your friends (or fictional crushes) when all’s said and done. Plus, you gotta love (or cringe at) the fanart and fake YouTube movie trailers that have come out of this one! (Read the review here.)

Snot lockers and maggoty ham! The funny and the heartbreaking always make for a good story.

The Glass Castle, Jeanette Walls. This is a memoir written like a novel. As memoirs go, this one is easy to sink into, with overarching themes and real-life characters who are truly stranger than fiction. I don’t think I put this one down before finishing it.

I’m gonna go cry in my borscht now.

A Complicated Kindness, Miriam Toews. This is a novel written like a memoir. It’s sad and perhaps a little depressing in the end, but beautifully written, with some pretty interesting literary devices that might surprise a non-reader. As a Mennonite myself, I can’t totally get behind the jaded depiction of my people, but taken with a grain of salt the overall story is quite good and worth some discussion.

Definitely a book club pick!

The Birth House, Ami McKay. I haven’t yet talked to anyone who read and didn’t like this book. Again, for non-readers, the stylistic choices here might surprise. Plus, the little pocket of time and place is unforgettable and so well drawn. (Read the review here.)

Stanley Yelnats: one of the best character names ever!

Holes, Louis Sachar. Mr. Brown read this out loud to my fourth grade class, and we were all hanging on his every word. Something about this mystery strikes people, young and old alike. I’ve read the book and watched the movie multiple times. It’s magic. (Honourable mentions in the “chapter books” category would have to go to Frindle, by Andrew Clement, and any Roald Dahl. Those  guys wrote good stuff, and Mr. Brown sure knew how to pick ’em.)

So what do you think? Did I get anything wrong? What would you add to the list? Have your say below!

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