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I love a good book list, and as someone who works with teens, one of my favorites is the Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers from the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA). Looking over this list made me wonder what books would be good for reluctant adult readers. If I was to present a non-reader with a book, which one would I choose for the best chance to ensure their enjoyment? Today I’m sharing 8 titles for different types of people. I’d love to hear your recommendations too.
FOR THE PERSON WHO LIKES A LOT OF DRAMA:
Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty
Big Little Lies is perfect for the person who claims they hate drama, but not-so-secretly loves it. There’s a large cast of characters, gossip, intrigue galore, and a suspicious death. Plus, fans can binge the excellent HBO series if they haven’t already.
FOR THE PERSON WHO LOVES TO LAUGH:
Calypso by David Sedaris
While you can’t go wrong with any Sedaris books, I think Calypso might be my favorite. In this collection of essays, Sedaris tells readers all about his new beach house called the Sea Section. I laughed out loud several times while reading about his family’s adventures there. Sedaris is indeed at his best and funniest in this book.
FOR THE PERSON WHO IS ALWAYS IMPROVING:
The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business
by Charles Duhigg
If you know someone who’s always looking for ways to better themselves, hand them this book. Duhigg explores habits and how people have used them to stop gambling, lose weight, win football games, and more. I was fascinated by the stories in this book and have tried to put Duhigg’s advice to work in my own life.
FOR THE MUSIC-LOVER:
Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl by Carrie Brownstein
When I read this book, I knew of Carrie Brownstein because I’d seen a few episodes of Portlandia, the TV show she starred in alongside Fred Armisen. I’d never listened to her band Sleater-Kinney, yet I was captivated by her story from start to finish. Brownstein is a great writer, so I think music fans will relish the stories of her musical journey, the riot-grrrl era, and the Pacific Northwest music scene in the early ’90s whether or not they’re a fan of her music.
FOR THE PERSON WHO CAN’T RESIST THOSE BUZZFEED QUIZZES:
Reading People: How Seeing the World through the Lens of Personality Changes Everything by Anne Bogel
Anne Bogel is known for her bookish blog and excellent podcast about the reading life, but in this book, she tackles a new topic: personality types. This book is less than 250 pages, and in it, Bogel presents brief overviews of personality categorization tools such as the Enneagram, Myers-Briggs, and more. This is a great starting point for a person wanting to know more about what exactly it is that makes us who we are.
FOR THE PERSON WHO ENJOYS FASCINATING TRUE STORIES:
Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief
by Lawrence Wright
Before reading Going Clear, I knew virtually nothing about Scientology. I was familiar with it because of stars like Tom Cruise and John Travolta, but the inner workings and belief systems were unknown to me. In this book, Lawrence Wright does a deep dive into the church and what he uncovers is absolutely fascinating. This is the perfect read for those who like digging into truth that’s stranger than fiction.
FOR THE PERSON WHO’S ALWAYS ASKING FOR ADVICE:
Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life by Dear Sugar
by Cheryl Strayed
If you know someone who can’t quite make up her mind, throw this book into a gift bag and hand it to her. Tiny Beautiful Things is a collection of advice Cheryl Strayed offered to readers of the Rumpus when she wrote their Dear Sugar column. This isn’t a traditional self-help book with steps laid out or specific action plans; instead, Strayed offers gentle words of encouragement and wisdom to those needing someone to listen.
FOR THE PERSON WHO CARES ABOUT FEMINISM AND POP CULTURE:
Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay
Roxane Gay is a brilliant writer and cultural critic, and her work in this book is no exception. Gay tends to write about serious topics, yet her essays in Bad Feminist can be quite funny. I was even entertained and mesmerized by her essay about a Scrabble tournament. Short pieces like essays are a great way to hook reluctant readers, I think, especially when the essays are as excellent as the ones in this collection.
What books would you recommend to reluctant readers? Was there a particular book that turned you into a book lover?