Friday, January 11, 2008

How To Fix The Non-Readers

All of us, at one time or another, have come into contact with a person that tells us, “I don’t read.” For whatever reason, this person has decided that it is not enjoyable to pick up a book and have someone tell them a story. They’d prefer to watch movies, or TV, listen to music or play video games. Maybe it’s optimistic of me, but I truly believe people don’t read because they’ve tried the wrong books.

The Antidote for the Non-Reader:

Lame Excuse #1: I can’t concentrate on something that long.
The Fix: A short story collection. They can finish a full story in one sitting and don’t have to remember large casts of characters or follow in depth plot twists. Depending on their tastes, I would recommend Drown by Junot Diaz, Expletive Deleted edited by Jennifer Jordan, or Magical Thinking by Augusten Burroughs.

Lame Excuse #2: I don’t have time.
The Fix: Audiobooks. That way the busier-than-thou person in your life can experience a book while driving or working out. I’d stay away from anything too heavy, usually these people are stressed out and someone light like David Sedaris or Jennifer Cruise will make them laugh and maybe not take themselves too seriously.

Lame Excuse #3: I’m a teenager who’s too cool to read.
The Fix: Hairstyles of the Damned by Joe Meno, Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky, or Every Crooked Pot by Renee Rosen. If the cranky teenager in your life skateboards, listens to punk music, dresses all in black or dies their hair primary colors, I’d also recommend American Skin by Don De Grazia and Please Kill Me: An Oral History of Punk by Legs McNeil and Gillian McCain.

Lame Excuse #4: I can’t concentrate enough to follow a story. My mind wanders too much.
The Fix: Give them something they can’t put down, something that is too gripping to not pay attention. No Time For Goodbye by Linwood Barclay, Tell No One by Harlan Coban, Gravity by Tess Gerritsen or At The City’s Edge by Marcus Sakey.

Lame Excuse #5: I’d much rather read the newspaper or a magazine.
The Fix: Usually, this person likes to keep up with current events and be knowledgeable of what’s going on in the world. Therefore, I’d recommend: Londonistan by Melanie Phillips, An Inconvinient Truth by Al Gore, Nickel and Dimed by Barbara Ehrenreich, or for something lighter, I Am America by Stephen Colbert. Note, I don't usually read these types of books, but all of these have been recommended by those that do.

For me, reaching out and addressing these lame excuses isn’t only about increasing readership. It’s about introducing someone to a wonderful, eye opening activity, something that they will benefit from and enjoy for years. What’s the non-reader in your life’s lame excuse and what can you do to fix it?


Ronni said...

Absolutely great post! Books are our best friends.:-)

Darwyn Jones said...

Really good post, Dana.

Quinn said...

Very nice lineup. I think a lot of non-readers associate books with school, tests and deadlines, maybe because they never had the kind of teacher who could make reading not seem like a chore to them. I like the thought that the right book could pull them out of that mindset and into the literary fold.

By the way, thanks to linking for my site! Only problem - the link has my last name spelled wrong. Not an uncommon mistake; I wonder what my life would be like if my family had kept its original name, Szczepaniak.

Bob Andelman said...

You might enjoy this exclusive audio interview with LEGS McNEIL, in which he talks about his books, Please Kill Me: The Uncensored Oral History of Punk and The Other Hollywood: The Uncensored Oral History of the Porn Film Industry ; and much, much more.