Fat Books & Thin Women

Top Ten Books for Reluctant Readers
February 7, 2012, 7:53 am
Filed under: meme | Tags: , , , ,

The Broke and the Bookish this week asks us to recommend books for reluctant readers. Awesome! I am not a reluctant reader, but I am doing my best here to be a good recommender of books. I notice, now, that a lot of these recommendations have been adapted to film – so perhaps I wasn’t the first to see how much crossover appeal they have.

The Fellowship of the Ring – ok, there are certain disadvantages to recommending Tolkien to a reluctant reader, wordiness and heavy song use being key among them. But this story is such a well-known one that it can easily suck anyone in, leading them to spend a full month immersed in The Lord of the Rings. Which reminds me, it’s time for me to read The Two TowersRead the reviewBuy

Mystic River – My Dennis Lehane love is well-established by now, so safe to say that I would hand pretty much anything the guy’s written to someone who’s not much into reading. Mystic River wins out because (a) I just read it a month ago and (b) it does such a good job of pulling together character development and plotting. As a runner-up, I’d recommend going through the whole Kenzie & Gennaro series. Read the reviewBuy

The Time Traveler’s Wife – Not to suggest that I myself am a crier, but if you regard percentage of crying time while reading a valuable indicator of how good a book is…this book is very good. This is also such a great crossover book that will appeal to anyone – teens, adults, men, women. Because, it has time travel! and romance! and so many scenes of Henry being naked in really, really awkward situations! – Buy

‘Salem’s Lot – Generally, I think of Stephen King as one of the best choices for reluctant readers. Or for me, when I don’t really feel like reading (but can’t think of anything else to do). I read a fair amount of King’s work while I was a freshman in high school, before deciding that he wasn’t “worthy” (don’t ask me) and avoiding his work for the next seven years. ‘Salem’s Lot was the first of his books I read on my return to King fandom, and it’s such a great example of what he can do. Certainly one of the best vampire stories, slow-moving as many of King’s novels are, but without the verbal diarrhea that afflicts so many of his efforts. – Buy

The Book Thief – Another one of those books with great crossover appeal. I judge its appeal not just on what a fantastic and engrossing read it is, but on the fact that this is one of the few books from the Peace Corps library that volunteers went out of their way to hunt down and request. Any time a book doesn’t actually see the library because it’s being passed hand-to-hand, you know it’s a good one. This also serves as a nice introduction to what is happening in young adult, and should quickly silence anyone who doesn’t think there’s much of worth in that category. – Buy

True Grit – as with Lehane, my Charles Portis fandom is a well-established thing. I choose True Grit, out of all his books (some of which I may like a little more) because (a) it’s also a movie…well, two movies and (b) it’s short, and (c) it’s funny, and (d) it is two hundred pages of showing us that westerns are awesome and we should be seeking out more of them. Mattie is a great, strong female character, and Rooster Cogburn not only has one of the best names in fiction but is funny to boot. Read the reviewBuy

Stiff – I’m reading Mary Roach’s book on astronauts right now, which reminded me of what a welcoming and fun author she is. She does this great mix of nonfiction and humor writing, and it’s hard not to go through her books recording all the weird facts she sticks in footnotes. I mean, where does she find these things? I love nonfiction but often go months without reading any, because it can be such slow-going. As I’m facing some scholarly reading on Albanian national identity, it’s nice to have Mary Roach to the side to wake me back up. I imagine that anyone would feel the same way, whether or not they share my reading commitments. – Buy

The Places in Between – While we’re on nonfiction, let’s roll out some Rory Stewart. This memoir is about walking across Afghanistan, in the middle of winter. Awesome! Everyone tells him he’s crazy, and he is, but he keeps going, accompanied by a dog. This memoir includes one of the most tear-worthy moments of The Written Word (really, it is that good – I can’t narrow the category down), you will know what I’m talking about when you get there. – Buy

Room – Emma Donoghue’s Room is maybe a riskier selection than those above, but it still seems pretty “hip” to me to be carrying this book around. Plus, I am pretty sure it’s made its way into airport bookstores. The narration may turn some people off, but Donoghue does an amazing job with her child narrator, and the viewpoint adds much to the book – many moments are especially affecting because we’re coming at them from the view of a child who doesn’t fully understand his world. Room is also a short read with high potential for sucking readers in as they try to find out what will happen to Jack and his mom?!! Read the reviewBuy

A Clockwork Orange – There’s some risk for revolt with this book as well, but like Room it’s a short read that raises some interesting issues. Burgess’s story is one that’s probably known to the reader through film, and despite the play with language here, it’s a pretty easy read that will nevertheless have the reader, at end, thinking, “holy shit. What just happened?Read the review

Read more recommendations for reluctant readers!


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I really need to read Mary Roach already. She’s on my TBR list, I just haven’t gotten to her yet.

And I WILL finally The Time Traveler’s Wife this year. Except the movie makes me cry every time, so I’m sure the book would kill me. ;)

Great list!

Comment by Melissa

I really, really need to read Room. I keep picking it up at the stores, I always reach for it at the library, but I’ve never gotten around to actually reading!

Also, oh man do I ever support The Time Traveler’s Wife. I cannot stand books (or even TV or movies) about time travel, but this one is just…I cried and held the book and fell in love with Henry and Clare’s love for each other.

Great picks!


Comment by Ashley (of Ashley Loves Books)

I delayed reading Time Traveler’s Wife for so long because the time travel thing just seemed like too much. But now, just thinking about the book has me wanting to reread.

Comment by Ellen Rhudy

You’ve got some great books here! I never thought to include Steven King, but of course! He’s one of the reasons I became a reader many many years ago :)

Comment by Trish

The Time Traveler’s Wife is very good and I really need to read Salem’s Lot! It has been on my TBR pile for years!

Comment by Alyssa

I think this list is really interesting because it seems more directed to adult readers. I always forget that adults can be encouraged to start reading too.

Comment by megtao

My first attempt at the list started out Harry Potter, The Hunger Games, Tamora Pierce…which are fantastic books for teens or adults, but then I remembered I’m most often recommending forcing books on people closer to my own age.

Comment by Ellen Rhudy

These are great. Much better reads than some of the ones on my list. I love Mary Roach, especially Stiff, and she would #1 on a list for reluctant non-fiction readers.

Comment by Laura

Mary Roach made my list, too. Her stuff leaves me in tears, it’s so funny!

Comment by bookzilla

LOVE your list because it’s so not “typical” recommended reading. And, all right, you are the 50th person to recommend Room so I am leaving in 5 minutes to pick up my copy at the library.

Comment by Rebecca ♥

Awesome! I can’t wait to hear what you think of it!

Comment by Ellen Rhudy

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