I Hate Reading Books: 10+ Books for Book Haters

“I hate reading books.” 

While bibliophiles like myself don’t quite understand them, there are people out there on our big, blue-green planet that don’tread books

*Le Gasp

It is true. 33% of people never read another book after high school. Never. And over 80% of American families didn’t read a single book last year.

As my father used to say, “When it comes to dinner, I come to dinner!” Well, I counter that with my own, “When it comes to books, I come to books!” 

As a bookworm, book lover, and author I read through novels with reckless abandon! However, that is not the case for everyone, as well I know. My husband would rather poke sticks in his baby blues than pick up a book, and three out of four of my kids honestly hate reading. Where did I go wrong? 

Just kidding. It takes all types to make the world go ‘round! So, if you are someone who desperately hates reading books, or are friends with someone like that, we’ve got some really good books just for you. 

Pinky promise! You’ll be a certified bibliophile in no time. 

These are my favorite books to give someone who is a picky reader. They stand the test of time whether it’s for a book club or for one’s own pleasure (we promise, reading can be pleasurable).

Top 10 Books for Book Haters

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 what’s 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.

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1. Lies My Teacher Told Me

Lies My Teacher Told Me

"Every teacher, every student of history, every citizen should read this book. It is both a refreshing antidote to what has passed for history in our educational system and a one-volume education in itself."

―Howard Zinn

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03/25/2024 03:04 pm GMT

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 about American culture. `

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, it features some really great short stories each with its own 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 your non-reading friends to get off their couch and travel, even if only in their imagination. 

Bonus! There’s now an easy read kid version! Which brings me to Book #3. Drum roll, please.

3. Atlas Obscura: An 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.

A perfect choice for bedtime for young readers 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!).

Pair the Atlas Obscura Explorer’s Guide with a big map of the world on their bedroom wall, and you will have one smart cookie on your hands in no time.

4. Don’t Let Go

By Harlan Coben

In my humble opinion, there are no bad readers. Just those who haven’t the right books. 

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 the perfect book 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 late teens and adults. As for your gender, well, it simply doesn’t matter. Old, young, middler, boy, girl, white, black, gray, or purple, you’re bound to devour this great story. 

5. A Man Called Ove

A Man Called Ove: A Novel

"A magnificent homage to humanity and to the possibility of friendship and faith in long-lost love. It covers a lot of ground: marriage, love, race, class, division, gentrification. It's one of those good stories that connects." - James McBride

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03/25/2024 03:04 pm GMT

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.

A Man Called Ove is the story of a man, cranky and curmudgeonly, 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 revamped version with Tom Hanks.

6. A Fine and Pleasant Misery

By Patrick McManus

A longtime favorite to 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.The whole thing, cover to cover, is hilarious.

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. 

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 volume that hits right for book lovers and book haters alike.

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.

When I read it, I heard 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 and is a great place to start

9. Grateful American

By Gary Sinise

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 relatable, 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 Sinise. One of the most successful actors around, Sinise 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 Sinise 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 real 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 and those have a hard time keeping focused long enough to read novel types. Warning: they may never see anyone the same way again.

Get Humans of New York: Stories along with the original Humans of New York photography book for a nice companion gift set. 

Additional Book Recommendations

Calling all reading skeptics and book-dodgers! If you’re in the anti-reading squad, fear not — I’ve got a lineup of book recommendations that might just convert you into a literature lover. Great thing for you that I happen to be as well read as I am. 

For those who claim to loathe reading, I challenge you to consider these book recommendations. These selections promise an engaging and enjoyable experience, providing an alternative gateway into the world of storytelling. 

Whether you’re seeking humor, intrigue, or a touch of the bizarre, these books are designed to captivate even the most reluctant readers. Open your mind to the unexpected, and let these recommendations redefine your perception of the reading experience.

1. The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis

The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe

Four adventurous siblings—Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy Pevensie—step through a wardrobe door and into the land of Narnia, a land frozen in eternal winter and enslaved by the power of the White Witch. But when almost all hope is lost, the return of the Great Lion, Aslan, signals a great change . . . and a great sacrifice.

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03/25/2024 03:14 pm GMT

This little book is far from overwhelming. It’s not too big or too lengthy, and you can easily find an illustrated copy which adds even more delight to your experience!

This is an adventure exciting enough to draw in even the most reluctant boy readers (and pull them from their video games at least for a little while).

The story of four siblings who enter into a magical kingdom through a wardrobe door never gets old, no matter your age. After all, it was C.S. Lewis himself who penned the words, “Someday you will be old enough to read fairy tales again.” 

Join Lucy, Peter, Edmund, and Susan as they encounter witches, fauns, beavers, and adventurers traveling through Narnia. The words are exquisite and the story magical. 

Once you’re done, you can reach for the rest of the books in the series, or just bask in the warm glow that The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe left behind. 

2. Odd Thomas by Dean Kootnz

Odd Thomas

Meet Odd Thomas, the unassuming young hero of Dean Koontz’s dazzling New York Times bestseller, a gallant sentinel at the crossroads of life and death who offers up his heart in these pages and will forever capture yours.

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03/25/2024 03:29 pm GMT

This was my first Kootnz novel and I cried like a baby at the end! He has such a way with words and characters. 

In this book (which has several sequels, if you’re so inclined to read them), we are introduced to Odd, a young man who works as a fry cook…and also sees dead people, the ghost of Elvis, Stormy Llewellen (Odd’s lovely girlfriend), and a host of the undead. 

There’s a mystery to solve, people to fall in love, and a twist ending that will rip your heart out. In a good way, of course. 

I’ve read Odd Thomas probably three times now and I still love it as much as the first time. I’ve also gifted several copies, and have *gasp* lost my own. Ah well, hopefully whomever borrowed it loved it, too!

There’s even a graphic novel if that floats your reading boat a little more! 

3. Outlander by Diana Gabaldon


Unrivaled storytelling. Unforgettable characters. Rich historical detail. These are the hallmarks of Diana Gabaldon’s work. Her New York Times bestselling Outlander novels have earned the praise of critics and captured the hearts of millions of fans

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03/25/2024 03:39 pm GMT

Okay, hear me out because I know you’re gobsmacked at the size of this one! Don’t be overwhelmed by the word count: just read the first two or three chapters and see if you can stop. I dare you! 

This novel is the queen of time-traveling adventures and inspired the award winning television show. You’ll be sucked into all sorts of Scottish history you never knew about, true and abiding love, and much adventure and thrills.

Author’s Note: This title contains adult content and is for the late-teen and adults only crowd. Not appropriate for middle school! 

4. Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore by Matthew Sullivan

Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore: A Novel

When a bookshop patron commits suicide, his favorite store clerk must unravel the puzzle he left behind in this “intriguingly dark, twisty” (Kirkus Reviews) debut novel from an award-winning short story writer.

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03/25/2024 03:44 pm GMT

Don’t let the dumb title (sorry, Mr. Sullivan), and the cheesy cover art (sorry, Mr. Cover Artist) throw you. Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore is an alarmingly good read that sat on my coffee table for weeks before I cracked it open out of desperation because it was the only thing I had to read.

Once started, I found find it was really hard to put down due to the unusual story and compelling characters. Lydia is our heroine. She’s an employee at a bookstore, shy, awkward, and somewhat people-phobic.

One night she stumbles upon the beginnings of a mystery: a patron known as a “Bookfrog” named Joey, hangs himself in the upper room above the store.

While Joey was her favorite bibliophile, Lydia is still shocked to discover Joey left her everything in his mixed-up, mentally ill, occasionally homeless life. Not only that, she has to unravel the reason why Joey killed himself, which becomes intricately entangled with her own violent past.

I loved this story for it’s totally bizarre plot that went places I never saw coming. It LOOKS like a cozy, feel-good, chick lit…but it TASTES like the best kind of indie book: lingering, spooky, strange, scary, and definitely worth reading.

5. Apples Never Fall by Liane Moriarty

Apples Never Fall

From Liane Moriarty, the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Big Little Lies and Nine Perfect Strangers, comes Apples Never Fall, a novel that looks at marriage, siblings, and how the people we love the most can hurt us the deepest.

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03/25/2024 03:44 pm GMT

Moriarty is a fierce writer with several best-sellers under her belt, but Apples Never Fall is a smaller, gentler version of her usual fast-paced who-dunnits. 

It centers around a family: four grown children, and the two parents who are coming up on their 50th anniversary. When the mother, Joy, disappears one night, her husband Stan, is the suspect. After all, the husband is always the suspect, right? 

Two of their children fiercely defend Stan, the other two…well, they aren’t so sure. This clever novel has twists and turns for days, including the introduction of a mysterious stranger named Savannah, and will keep you turning pages until the last satisfying one is completely devoured. 

I hear this one has been optioned for a movie, so fingers crossed they stay faithful to this wonderful book! 

6. I Take My Coffee Black: Reflections on Tupac, Musical Theater, Faith, and Being Black in America by Tyler Merritt

I Take My Coffee Black

By turns witty, insightful, touching, and laugh-out-loud funny, I Take My Coffee Black paints a portrait of black manhood in America and enlightens, illuminates, and entertains—ultimately building the kind of empathy that might just be the antidote against the racial injustice in our society.

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03/25/2024 03:54 pm GMT

This book is such a wonderful in-depth look at those things mentioned in the title! What a whirlwind! You’ll love getting into Tyler’s mind and heart: he’s a gentle, dreadlocked giant who will charm you instantly. 

It isn’t overwhelming, never preachy, and always easy to read. In fact, you’ll be shocked at how quickly you get through this little gem of a memoire.

It’s tender, sweet, hilarious, and quite educational, too. A great book for someone who prefers a non-fiction quick read.

I’ve heard the audio book is to die-for, too, because it’s narrated by Tyler himself! 

7. The Trouble with Sheep and Goats by Joanna Cannon

The Trouble with Goats and Sheep: A Novel

“I loved this book. It's one of those books that you just want to give to everybody.” — Nancy Pearl on Morning Edition

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03/25/2024 03:59 pm GMT

This work of fiction reads like an adorable memoire. Full of biting wit and how absurd adults seem to children, it follows little girls Gracie and Tilly in 1970s, in England. 

When their neighbor Mrs. Creasy goes missing, the girls become amateur detectives, picking up clues throughout the cul-de-sac. They go looking for God (in a hilarious turn of events), try to make sense of confounding grown ups, and may or may not solve the mystery. 

It’s at turns delightful, spooky, and hilarious, and might just make you cry a little. Which is exactly what a great book does! A perfect choice for a light read that makes you feel good all over.

8. My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry by Fredrik Backman

My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She's Sorry

A charming, warmhearted novel from the author of the New York Times bestseller A Man Called Ove.

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03/25/2024 04:04 pm GMT

“Every seven-year-old deserves a superhero. That’s just how it is. Anyone who doesn’t agree with that needs their head examined.” 

Elsa’s grandmother is that superhero, but when she passes away she leaves a legacy of letters for Knight Elsa, age seven, to deliver. 

Like Big Fish but with a grandmother instead of a father, a child has to search for answers in the fairy tale world her only friend — her grandmother — left behind. This novel is rich in humor, charm, and wit. 

You’ll be chuckling one minute, and crying the next! I considered myself “not quite smart as an eight year old,” by the end, as Elsa kept figuring things out faster than I could.

A lovely, lovely, lovely novel. 

9. The 7 ½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton

The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle

"Pop your favorite Agatha Christie whodunnit into a blender with a scoop of Downton Abbey, a dash of Quantum Leap, and a liberal sprinkling of Groundhog Day and you'll get this unique murder mystery." ―Harper's Bazaar

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03/25/2024 04:18 pm GMT

Turton is an insanely good writer! His sentences are prose are absolutely poetic. I’m convinced he’s a genius! This is definitely the strangest book I’ve read in a long while, and I am here for it.

Do you love crime and wish you had a string murder board? Well, tape one up on your wall because you’re gonna need that and a flow sheet, too! That’s the only way you’re going to solve this crazy mystery of Evelyn Hardcastle and her 7 ½ deaths. 

This book is complicated. So why, you may ask, do I include it in a list of books for book haters? Because it’s such a good story it just might blow your mind and get you reading forever more, that’s why!

I’m going to read it again, because holy cow.

10. A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

A Christmas Carol

No matter how much of a literary novice you are, you are most likely familiar with the Christmas tale of miserly old Ebenezer Scrooge. A perfect choice for the holidays.

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03/25/2024 04:29 pm GMT

It doesn’t have to be Christmas time to enjoy this wonderful little book, but it doesn’t hurt! And if it’s late at night, with the wind howling and the stars twinkling? Oh my yes.

Dickens’s prose is so lovely and it doesn’t matter how old it is — his words age so gracefully. He paints a picture that will be so vivid in your imagination as you turn each and every page. I recently went to a play of A Christmas Carol and they changed the dialogue.

In every scene.

They changed. the. dialogue.

I nearly died of a broken heart. You don’t go around messing with perfection!

Five more books for book haters:

Just a few more classic and/or intriguing books for people who don’t like to read.

Changing and Challenging the “I hate reading books” Opinion

Well, now that we’re through our best suggestions for those who hate books, what was the book that made you become a reader?

Think about what it was in your life that began to stir in you an interest in reading (outside of, you know, school). 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 fresh ideas. They’ll thank you later (after they’ve finished just one more chapter).

Best Books for People Who Say I Hate Reading Books
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Melyssa Williams

Melyssa Williams has been writing since she could hold a pen (or a quill, as she was an odd little duck).

Sadly, she was born to two loving parents who fed her broccoli, taught her manners, and raised her with...

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