Top Ten Tuesday: Books I Would Hand to Someone Who Claims to Not Like Reading

Hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl

Man peeking out from behind a white desk in a white room. He looks nervous. 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

1. Audiobooks 

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!



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71 Responses to Top Ten Tuesday: Books I Would Hand to Someone Who Claims to Not Like Reading

  1. I agree that audiobooks can be really great for those who struggle to read. While it doesn’t work for me I’m certainly keeping it in mind for my kiddo in the future.

  2. I would never try to talk someone into reading any more than I would hope others would try to talk me into going to a monster truck show. Different strokes, and all of that. But, like you, I would be happy to share possibilities with people who want to like reading, I think. Great ideas for types of books to try, and great suggestions.

  3. I love how you’ve split the recommendations! I think audiobooks are great for those who don’t usually like to read. Comics/graphic novels are also something I recommend to friends who don’t normally read but want to try reading more 😊 The Humans of New York book is also a fab recommendation!

  4. Great approach! I agree, if someone absolutely doesn’t want to read, I’d respect that… but if they haven’t liked reading so far but they’re open to suggestions, that’s different! Audiobooks are a great way to go — some books just really come alive that way. I agree about graphic novels too — trying different types of reading can help someone find what works for them. Hitchhiker’s Guide is such a great choice!

  5. I don’t read a ton of non-fiction, but _Lies My Teacher Told Me_ is kind of calling to me.

    My post—

    Happy TTT!

  6. Kel

    Yes, I love that you split it into a genre/type and then specific books. I went all with specific books. But I would say that audio is a great way to go for someone who does not like to “read” so to say. I didn’t think about it on that level.

  7. Oh, I love that you included types of books here! Audiobooks and graphic novels are great choices for people who don’t think they like reading.

    My TTT this week:

  8. I think #3 is big. A lot of non-readers might do this.

  9. Great topic. I put a few Graphic Novels on my list for that same reason I didn’t even think about plays and musicals, but it’s a very good point.

  10. I often tell people how much I enjoy audiobooks and they say that they can’t pay attention to them. Ha! Just an excuse to not read anything in any format, I suspect. Great suggestions. I’m off the board this week with nonfiction favorites

    • Thank you. I like listening to audiobooks of stories I’ve read before so if I get distracted in a pivotal scene I’ll still know what’s going on. Haha.

  11. That’s an interesting way to look at this week’s top 10. I enjoyed reading it! Like you say reading is down to personal taste and people respond to different media.

  12. Audio books are a good idea for non-readers. Reading is reading, no matter how you take it in, and sometimes it’s just a matter of finding the right format.

  13. Humans of New York is a great suggestion! Little stories and a photo. Love this.

  14. This is a great list – such a diverse and creative way to approach the topic. I usually don’t go forcing reading material on people who don’t want it either, but a lot of times people will come up to me and say that they haven’t enjoyed reading in the past but want a suggestion to see if maybe they’ll like it now. They’re often surprised to see how many options there are, and how fun reading can be!

  15. I agree with audiobooks, especially if you get a great narrator.

  16. Great list! I love that you gave generalized recommendations. Audiobooks are great for people who don’t like to read, and I’ll never understand when people try to say they’re “not the same” as reading a book. Not everyone has the time, ability, or spoons to read.

  17. I love that you came up with those generalized ideas too. And totally true, different types of storytelling can totally make a difference to what you get from it.

  18. Great approach to the topic! I also struggled with it, as recommending books to someone who does not like reading is indeed so tough and my instinct is to not do it either. But I loved your ideas! Especially audiobooks might definitely be great for some non-readers.

  19. The generalized/specific idea sections was such a great way to structure a response to this prompt! I hadn’t thought of books that inspired movies/TV shows, and now I’m wishing I’d included that as a category on my list.

  20. Big yes to respecting boundaries! No sense in pushing reading on anyone. But I also love the mention of oral storytelling–my mom isn’t a big reader, and she actually buys me books she wants to read so I can tell her the story, haha! Thank you for reminding me of that–it really made me smile.

  21. I almost included The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy on my list. It’s so smart and so fun.

  22. Graphic novels have been so helpful for many young readers who have been reluctant about reading. Great suggestions!

  23. I appreciate how you gave broad suggestions. My husband was watching a video on YouTube the other night, and they were talking about reading. One of the guys mentioned how he thinks readers are weird. Why? Because he doesn’t understand how people can “see” the action and settings. It turns out he can’t process words as images. He later admitted that he enjoys reading comics and graphic novels because the picture is there for him to see.

    Pam @ Read! Bake! Create!

    • My husband can’t “see” actions and settings in his head either. I don’t know how common it is, but he strongly prefers to watch film/tv adaptations of books because of it. I’m just glad there are so many different options out there. 🙂

  24. I like your response to not force anyone but I think plenty of people don’t like to read and want to give it a shot and don’t know where to turn. Especially if you haven’t read since you were in school, figuring out what you might like is really difficult. It took my sister giving me a book to push me into really reading as an adult. Audiobooks are also a great idea, I wish I could get myself to like them.

    • Yeah, required school reading does turn some people off from reading as adults which is a real shame.

      I wish it were easier for everyone to find books they love!

      Have you tried listening to audiobooks of stories you’ve already read? That’s how I got into them and it’s still 99% of what I listen to. 🙂

  25. Audiobooks are a great choice for people who don’t like to read

  26. “Non-bookish people might be surprised to know how many shows started out as novels, novellas, or short stories!” This is very true and often does spark someone to say ooh I should read that or whatever, in my experience anyway. And yes to comics/ graphic novels as well.

    Great point about history too. And Hitcvhhikers Guide! 🙂

  27. I completely agree with you about seeing plays and musicals. I always disliked reading plays in school but seeing them acted out on stage as they were meant to be is such an incredible experience.

  28. Great suggestions! My daughter doesn’t like to read most books, but she does enjoy having them read aloud to her. She also LOVES graphic novels and manga. I’m just glad she’s reading in a way that works for her 🙂

    Happy TTT!


  29. These are neat choices for today’s list. I like audiobooks, especially when traveling. I will have to check out Lies My Teacher Told Me.

    Thanks for sharing and for visiting my blog today.

  30. Some great ideas there, Lydia. I hope many non-readers will pick them up.

    My TTT has a lot of my favourite shorter books.

  31. This is a great list and I love how you split it up into the two categories! I’d really like to read the Humans of New York book too, I always enjoy their Facebook posts.

    • Thank you!

      A lot of (maybe all?) of the content in their Humans of New York book was first published on their blog, I believe. So that’s another option, too.

  32. Oh, another great approach to today’s topic, and how to get people reading, Lydia. I love the generalised ideas, and comic books and graphic novels are a great idea for younger stubbon readers.

  33. Jo

    I definitely took mine more as people who have been reluctant to read in the past, but want to get into reading, I would never try and push books on someone who didn’t want them!

  34. Great list, I think many refuse to read because they have not found the right story or format, audios and graphic novel they are amazing to try something new

  35. I don’t push something on others if it’s not their thing, but I still think these kind of lists are fun. They’re just a kind of “what if” question that can be fun to put together. 🙂 Thanks so much for visiting Finding Wonderland on this week, Lydia.

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