Hard as it is to imagine someone entirely disliking my own favorite pastime, I suppose it happens. After all, from the way people talk, one might assume that everyone naturally likes parties and rock concerts—but I beg to differ. Give me a book any day.
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The difficulties in making this list are twofold. First, faced with a person who didn't like reading, I'd want to consider more about them than that fact alone. What do they enjoy? They might have a better time with, say, a novel featuring that subject.
Second, I do like to read. A lot. And I read books written for people like me, by people like me. Good luck getting someone non-bookish engrossed in The Wheel of Time or Jane Austen, or possibly even the suspenseful but also introspective and intellectual Ender books.
Here are a few that might generally work, however.
1. The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling. There may not be any novels with broader appeal. There are, however, plenty of stories about people, especially children, who didn't take to reading until they met Harry.
For the ladies:
2. Twilight or 3. The Host by Stephenie Meyer. Anyone can read Meyer, and she's particularly challenging to put down.
4. Princess Academy or 5. The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale. Flawless, fascinating, vivid and lovely with brave, appealing, good-hearted heroines and adorable young men. Easy to pick up, hard to let go of.
For the guys:
6. Redwall by Brian Jacques or 7. On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness by Andrew Peterson. I'm going to assume you've already tried Grisham and Clancy and found that sort of thing didn't suit. These are heroic, humorous and not overly long.
For someone who got through high school by means of cliff notes and now wants to say they've read some classics:
8. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. Beautiful, but easy to read and very engaging.
9. The Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. By far the easiest and shortest of Dickens' works (and easier and shorter than most other classics, too.) A thing of beauty and a joy forever.
For someone who thinks reading is a good idea but really, they prefer the movies:
10. The Princess Bride by William Goldman. Utterly hilarious and surprisingly not too unlike the movie.
11. The Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Orczy. Diverges somewhat from the superb old Anthony Andrews/Jane Seymour/Ian McKellen film, but the characters of Sir Percy and Marguerite are the same. Besides, it's delightful.
All right, I cheated and went one over. But really, this could go on forever. I could see myself recommending Ender's Game to the kid everyone thought couldn't read well when he was really just bored by easy material, Maeve Binchy's work to just-too-busy women, Erica Bauermeister's The School of Essential Ingredients to the cook and Pat McManus to the outdoorsy type.... and on and on and on.
What books would you recommend?