“I hate reading books.”
While us bibliophiles don’t quite understand them, there are people out there on our big, green planet that don’t *GASP* read books.
It’s true. I feel like a public service announcement, or a Very Special Episode of a Back-to-School Movie *the more you knowwwwww*, but here’s a fact to make you sob a little:
33% of people NEVER read another book after high school.
And 80% of US families did not buy or even read a book in the last year.
Not one book.
I Hate Reading Books
Non-readers. Book haters. Yep, they exist, and they exist in droves. So what’s to do about that? Well, convert them of course!
But you can’t just slam the “I hate books” person upside the head with your favorite tome. I’ve tried. Doesn’t work, and worse, it dents your book.
Instead, you have to start small. Get the book hater a tale that will hook them from the very start. Here are ten I think will change the I hate reading books barbarian into (hopefully!) an I guess books are ok neophyte.
10 Books for Book Haters
1. Lies My Teacher Told Me
By James W. Loewen
Even the title makes one curious. What did my teacher lie to me about? Well, all sorts of things, most likely, even if it was inadvertently.
This book will open the eyes of anyone who has the slightest interest in American History, and even those who think they don’t.
It’s also a perfect read aloud for couples, a book group, or parent to child, because the discussions raised (not to mention the eyebrows) are perfect fodder for debate and opinions.
The author, James Loewen, is a college professor who scoured text books, dismayed at the inaccuracies, fallacies, and inconsistencies, and used his knowledge to tell the true story as best as he could, all without sounding judgmental or opinionated.
The result is a fascinating walk through our ancestor’s paths, that will change the way you think about what you thought you knew. Get your copy here.
2. Atlas Obscura: An Explorer’s Guide to the World’s Hidden Wonders
By Joshua Foer, Dylan Thuras, and Ella Morton.
There are so many great things about this huge coffee-table-type book that it’s hard to know where to start.
First of all, you can flip to any page and begin your journey, which is excellent for those with short attention spans.
Secondly, each story is short and has an illustration.
And thirdly, it’s totally fascinating! Even self-proclaimed world travelers will learn something new.
Example: maybe if you’re a geography buff you might have heard of Cairo’s City of the Dead, but have you heard of Cairo’s Garbage City?
Or how about the dazzling glowworm caves in New Zealand, or a baobob tree in South Africa that’s so large it has a pub inside where 15 people can drink comfortably?
Mind-boggling events, like the Baby Jumping Festival in Spain, where men dressed as devils literally vault over rows of squirming infants… Not to mention the Great Stalacpipe Organ in Virginia, Turkmenistan’s 40-year hole of fire called the Gates of Hell, a graveyard for decommissioned ships on the coast of Bangladesh, eccentric bone museums in Italy, or a weather-forecasting invention that was powered by leeches, still on display in Devon, England.
This is one book that remind you of how mysterious, bizarre, beautiful, and weird our home planet really is, and it will inspire the “I hate books” person to get off their couch and travel, even if only in their imagination. Get it here.
Bonus! There’s now a kid version! Which brings me to Book #3 … drum roll, please…
3. Atlas Obscura Explorer’s Guide for the World’s Most Adventurous Kid
By Dylan Thuras and Rosemary Mosco.
Packed to the brim with gorgeous artwork, this is the children’s version that adults will eat up too.
Perfect for bedtime reading and sure to give you exotic dreams all night long, you’ll learn about just how weird and fantastical our world is.
Truth is stranger than fiction, right? This book will prove just how correct that old adage is, and inspire you or your kids to live an adventurous life, all while teaching them (shhh, don’t tell!).
4. Don’t Let Go
By Harlan Coben
If you’re a reluctant reader, the first line of a book has to grab you by the teeth and dig in. The first line of this thriller by one of the world’s best loved authors?
Daisy wore a clingy black dress with a neckline so deep it could tutor philosophy.
Packed with page turning suspense, plus a witty sense of humor that will keep you laughing when you aren’t biting your nails, a Harlan Coben novel is perfect for someone who thinks they don’t like novels, and this is no exception.
I’d rate it along the lines of a PG-13 movie, so it’s good for teens and adults, and your gender, well, it simply doesn’t matter. Old, young, middler, boy, girl, white, black, gray, or purple, you’re bound to devour this book. Available here.
5. A Man Called Ove
By Fredrik Backman
One of the most lovable and unforgettable (and surprising) books I’ve ever read, this slim novel from Sweden’s most beloved blogger-turned-author will keep you chuckling when you’re not softly crying.
Ove is a cranky curmudgeon whom the neighbors steer clear of and for good reason: he’s bitter, angry, and wants everything done his way. But when some new neighbors arrive (flattening Ove’s mailbox with their UHaul), chaos, transformations, and new beginnings begin to sprout.
This book will tug at your heart strings, but not in a corny, cheesy way. You’ll never look the same way at your grouchy grandfather/neighbor/uncle again. A Man Called Ove is a wonderful novel for those people who think they hate reading.
BTW, both movies are very good – the OG from Sweden, and the newer version with Tom Hanks.
6. A Fine and Pleasant Misery
By Patrick McManus
Long a favorite read-aloud, Patrick McManus is the Erma Bombeck of the outdoors. Feel an itch to go camping, hiking, fishing, or frolic in nature? His 27 short tales (true stories, but maybe a leeeetle bit exaggerated) will shut down that dumb idea.
If you like books that leave you gasping for air because you’re laughing so hard, this is the one for you. We keep our copy in our camping supplies, so while we’re munching our burnt S’mores, getting campfire smoke in our eyes, and batting away the mosquitoes, we can read about his hilarious misadventures in the wilds of Idaho.
There is no one alive who won’t crack up at some point in this classic book, guaranteed. Get it here.
7. Where the Sidewalk Ends
By Shel Silverstein
Not just for kids, adults will in turn crack up and get the “feels,” while thumbing through Silverstein’s best loved collection.
One of the best known “banned books,” the author’s ability to tell the truth while rhyming knows no equal. You’ll find more honesty and revelations reading his simple poetry than you will reading most philosophy textbooks.
Besides, who wants to read a philosophy textbook anyway?
Whether you need a gift for a baby shower, a graduation, a Christmas party, a retirement shindig, whatever, Where the Sidewalk Ends is the book that hits all the right spots and is exactly right every time.
8. The Way I Heard It
By Mike Rowe
Why is a book with an old dude and a coffee cup on this list of books for people who don’t like to read? Because Mike Rowe’s podcast is the “only podcast for the curious mind with a short attention span,” and it’s so very good.
I when I read it, I hear the words in Rowe’s deep, recognizable voice. Reminiscent of Paul Harvey’s The Rest of the Story, each tale is unique, oddly suspenseful, and has a twist at each end that will either make you shout, I knew it!!! or leave you speechless and gobsmacked.
Fun, educational, and fascinating. If you’re on the hunt for books for men who don’t read, this just might be his gateway into a new world of reading. Available here.
9. Grateful American
By Gary Sinese
While Americans (and others) seem to be obsessed with celebrities, most of us over the age of 21 don’t give them too much respect or mental real estate. They just aren’t real, and they don’t seem to be living in the same world we’re inhabiting. And to be inspired by one? Well, that doesn’t happen often.
Cue from stage left, Gary Sinese. One of the most successful actors around, Sinese has a career even other celebrities envy.
And yet, acting wasn’t his life’s calling. Not even close. After starring in films concerning war and veterans, he realized how badly neglected our wounded warriors are, and he decided to jump in and get his hands dirty.
Ever since 9/11 he has worked tirelessly to shine light on our forgotten soldiers, from entertaining them with his Lt. Dan’s Band to countless charities, eventually founding the Gary Sinese Foundation.
Want to be inspired, awed, and motivated? Get your hands on Grateful American.
Related: Best Gifts for Veterans
10. Humans of New York: Stories
By Brandon Stanton
Beginning as a photography blog, Stanton gained a cult following when he began to share simple stories of the people in front of his camera.
From the weird to the tear-jerking to the funny to the upsetting, this is one of the best books for non readers. It’s a fabulous reminder that everyone surrounding us has a story to tell and you cannot judge a book or a human by its cover.
The book is easy to flip through and read a snippet here and there. This one is a great gift for your book non-lover. Warning: they may never see anyone the same way again.
Changing the “I hate reading books” opinion
Well, now that we’re through, what was the book that made you become a reader?
Think about what it was in your life that began to stir in you a love for reading. Every bibliophile started when a certain tale reached out and grabbed them by their heartstrings.
Remember that story, and try to convey a bit of what that felt like to your non-reader.
Maybe you can convert someone now that you’re armed with some ideas. They’ll thank you later (after they’ve finished just one more chapter).