My first response to this post was to say, “absolutely nothing at all!” I wholeheartedly believe in respecting people’s boundaries if they say they’re not interested in doing or trying something.
For the sake of argument, let’s pretend that this person has not enjoyed reading in the past but is open to hearing a few suggestions of new ways to approach this hobby from someone who knows a lot about it.
My first five ideas will include various types of reading and literacy material that can be easily tailored to someone’s interests. There are so many options out there other than traditional novels. I’ll then mention five specific titles that might work for adults who are reluctant readers. (I’m guessing that most lists this week will focus on books for kids or teens who dislike reading. We’ll see if I’m right about that).
Generalized Bookish Ideas for Non-Readers
Audiobooks are great for so many different scenarios, from people who struggle to read to folks who don’t have a great deal of time to sit down and read every day while doing nothing else.
2. Comic Books, Graphic Novels, and/or Comic Strips
I’ve known several people who dislike traditional books for any number of reasons but who really connected with specific storylines or characters in these genres because they had so many visual cues about what was going on.
3. Books that Inspired Films or TV Shows
Non-bookish people might be surprised to know how many shows started out as novels, novellas, or short stories! Honestly, I’m still occasionally surprised by how often this happens.
4. Oral Storytelling
Some people come from cultures that traditionally passed stories down verbally from one generation to the next instead of writing them down. Others might simply respond better to hearing or sharing a story out loud instead of quietly reading it. I believe in encouraging everyone to engage with stories in whatever ways work best for them.
5. Plays and Musicals
I struggled to enjoy most of Shakespeare’s plays when I read them in high school and college literature courses, but seeing them play out on the stage (or by streaming a recording of a previous performance) was a much more rewarding and memorable experience. More recently, I utterly adored seeing Hamilton when it showed up on one of the streaming services I use! There are so many different types of plays and musicals out there to appeal to all sorts of personalities and interests.
Five Specific Books for Non-Readers
6. Humans of New York: Stories by Brandon Stanton
People are fascinating. You never know what secrets a stranger passing you buy on the street might be carrying with them.
7. Atlas Obscura – an Explorer’s Guide to the World’s Hidden Treasures by Joshua Foer, Dylan Thuras, and Ella Morton.
This is a delightful anthology of true stories about history, science, geography, architecture, nature, and so much more. It’s easy to dip in and out of it or to skip ahead to sections that interest you.
8. Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong by James W. Loewen
It’s interesting to compare what was taught in elementary and secondary history courses versus what books written for adult readers have to say on the same topics. I think I would have enjoyed history class more growing up if things hadn’t been so over-simplified and sometimes downright misconstrued to us.
9. Animal Farm by George Orwell
Political satires aren’t for everyone, but they really hit the spot for some readers.
10. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
Adams had such an amazing sense of humour and comedic timing!