Top Ten Books I’d Hand to Someone who Doesn’t Like Reading

“Reading good books ruins you for enjoying bad books.”

Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows

  1. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone – J.K. Rowling. OK, I know this is kind of a cliché, but there’s a reason for that. Rowling knows how to hook her readers in, and she knows how to craft a gripping plot, and she knows in her early books not to weigh down the story with extraneous and bulky ideology.
  2. Mort – Terry Pratchett. Or, in fact, any of Pratchett’s Discworld series: funny, humane, intelligent and comforting reads that have a pretty good chance of luring the unsuspecting non-reader into the world of SFF fandom.
  3. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams. In a similar vein to the above. Adams is everything Pratchett is, and Hitchhiker is a classic as well as being short, an agreeable and intelligent way to while away a few hours.
  4. Wool – Hugh Howey. So the gender politics of the later novels in the trilogy do get a bit squiffy, but there’s very little I’ve read that can rival Wool in its slow (tortuously slow) reveal of the depths of Howey’s dystopia, plus Juliette is one of my favourite heroines ever.
  5. Room – Emma Donoghue. Another page-turner (one that’s recently been adapted for film, no less), harrowing and powerful; one for those who don’t like (or don’t think they like) SFF.
  6. Bridget Jones’ Diary – Helen Fielding. More intelligent and better-written than a lot of the novels in its genre (I’m looking at you, Shopaholic), it’s also very, very funny and acutely observed. Also, with any luck it might get my hypothetical non-reader into Pride and Prejudice, and after that the entire history of English literature is your oyster.
  7. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society – Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows. Maybe some of the book love of the islanders may rub off on my non-reading friend. This novel is just a gentle, undemanding love story, too; I actually can’t think of any reason not to like it.
  8. The Gunslinger – Stephen King. “The man in black fled across the desert, and the gunslinger followed.” I literally defy you not to be hooked.
  9. The Time Traveler’s Wife – Audrey Niffenegger. Another eminently readable love story, carefully constructed (although I can see the timelines getting a bit irritating) and tinged with tragic inevitability. Her second novel, Her Fearful Symmetry, is also great.
  10. Cat Stories. Short stories are forgiving, easy to put down and pick back up, and who is there who doesn’t like cats?

(The theme for this post was suggested by the Broke and the Bookish’s weekly meme Top Ten Tuesday.)

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