Often, when people think of reading, they automatically seem to think of reading fiction. Even individuals who enjoy reading informational articles online, or perhaps non-fiction books, might sometimes not describe themselves as “a reader.” Or there can be a sense that to be “a reader” one must be reading some nebulous (high) quota of books. But this is not the case! All reading is reading! And there is no magic number of books one must read each year to be considered a “real” reader.
So how do you go about choosing books for the “non-readers” in your life? Maybe you want to give them a gift from your favorite bookstore. Maybe you are convinced that, for some reason or other, they really need or deserve a book. Choosing a book for a non-reader need not be difficult! Just think of the things they already enjoy–and then find a book based around that. Below are some suggestions.
As mentioned above, many self-described “non-readers” actually do read, but they read non-fiction, and they may not associate themselves with the readers of fiction they know. But reading non-fiction books counts as reading! So if you know someone interested in a certain topic–maybe space or art or history or whatever–try finding them a non-fiction book on that topic. This can also work for individuals who are interested in a topic, but who consume information on that topic primarily through podcasts or documentaries. They may still enjoy reading up on it if you find an engaging book!
Cookbooks are a great type of book for a non-reader! Many individuals enjoy cooking and, even if the internet has made finding recipes easy, there is still value to be found in a curated collection of unique or perhaps hard-to-find recipes. Try looking for a cookbook especially appropriate for the individual you are thinking of–that may mean one with meals for two, one dedicated to vegetarian recipes, one for beginning cooks, or one that’s just full of desserts.
How-To or Self-Help Books
How-to and self-help books can also be popular among self-described “non-readers.” These types of books are often written in a very accessible manner, with chunked text, short chapters, sidebars, and more–and perhaps that makes people feel as if they are not “really reading.” But, again, books are books! Try choosing a how-to book based around a person’s interests or hobbies, or a self-help book on a topic the person has previously expressed interest in (anything from parenting tips to financial literacy).
Puzzle or Trivia Books
Perhaps the non-reader in your life would enjoy an activity book! Crossword books, word searches, Sudoku puzzles, or trivia books could all be welcome gifts for the person looking for a way to keep occupied.
Books with Activities or Crafts
If you are not sure what hobbies your recipient enjoys, why not give them the materials to pick up a new hobby? You could try something like a paint-by-numbers or paint-by-stickers activity book, or a craft kit that comes with an instructional booklet.
Some readers of comics have also absorbed the idea that reading comics does not constitute “real” reading and so may describe themselves as “non-readers.” Check in to see if the “non-reader” in your life is actually a comic book, manga, or anime fan–and then find them the perfect book.
The Reluctant Reader
The reluctant reader is a little different from the non-reader. Some individuals who do not consider themselves avid readers actually do read, and may even enjoy it! Reluctant readers tend to be individuals who do not enjoy reading, perhaps because they find it difficult but maybe because they just have not found the right book for them. Below are a few ideas for the reluctant reader in your life.
Non-fiction books can work well for reluctant readers because many are separated into easily accessible chunks, with graphics, images, and sidebars. Try finding one related to an interest of the reader’s–perhaps a guide to a video game they place, a biography of a musician they like, etc.
Graphic novels can engage reluctant readers who do not like seeing large chunks of text, or who may like to use the illustrations to provide context for what they are reading.
Audiobooks can engage readers by letting them hear the book read by someone who knows just when to pause, when to speed up or slow down, and how to add emotion–how to make the story come alive. You can also pair an audiobook with the text.
What books would you recommend for non-readers?