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7 Page-Turning Books to Get You Out of the “Reluctant Reader” Stage

For about as long as time, school teachers and academic institutions have been banging away at the old chestnut of how to get people to read books. Reading provides various cognitive consequences that extend beyond its immediate task of decoding meaning from particular passages and texts. It expands one’s vocabulary, improves one’s analytical thinking, increases one’s knowledge base, and develops one’s abilities in building better relationships with other people. It makes one a better writer and speaker.

Still, nevertheless, many people are finding themselves in a reluctant stage to pick up and read a book because, no matter what beneficial things they read or hear about reading, they find them slow, dull, hard to comprehend, and unrewarding. Not even the words of Dr. Seuss who once wrote that “the more that you read, the more that you’ll know. The more that you know, the more places you’ll go” can convince a reluctant person who doesn’t want to read, to read.

So how in the heck do we get people to be interested in reading? I think of it as getting a good tan on the beach. You don’t go out tanning for hours because you’ll burn. You start small and easy. Pick a book you can live with for five minutes, pick a book that interests and strikes a chord in your heart, then gradually increase the reading time by five minutes and then another five until there is no reluctance to pick and read another book.

To get you started, here are seven outstanding books you can choose from that I firmly believe will help you get out of the “reluctant reader” stage.

Holes by Louis Sachar

In this inventive and darkly humorous tale of crime, punishment, and redemption, Stanley Yelnats, a boy who has had bad luck due to a curse placed on his great-great-grandfather, is sent to a juvenile detention camp for a crime he did not commit. Stanley and the other boys are forced to dig large holes in the dirt every day, but it doesn’t take long for Stanley to realize there’s more going on than just digging holes.

Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom

This simple and easy to read memoir is of the time that the author Mitch Albom spent visiting his dying former college professor, Morrie Schwartz, during their fourteen Tuesday visits which Mitch learns important lessons on how to live.

The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

As iconic as James Dean, this coming-of-age novel is about a seventeen-year-old teenage rebel, Holden Caulfield, recounting the story of three days in his life in New York City dealing with complex issues of innocence, identity, belonging, alienation, and connection in the adult world.

Animal Farm by George Orwell

A simple and easy to read sentence structure story with some colloquial vocabulary, this short political fable tells of a group of farm animals that rebel against their mean, drunk farmer who run the farm they live on and run it themselves with hopes of being equal, free, and happy. However, it isn’t long before the pigs start to take control and treat other animals badly as sometimes “all animals are equal but some animals are more equal than the others.” It is a satire of Stalin era in the Soviet Union.

Siddhartha by Herman Hesse

Written in simple, lyrical style and rich with philosophy, this page-turning short novel centers on the spiritual quest for enlightenment of its titular character when he becomes discontented with his current state and disillusioned with the pleasures of the material world.

Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel

If there is one book that gets your mouth all watery from all the food and recipes being described on every page, it is Laura Esquivel’s Like Water for Chocolate. Set in the turn-of-the-century Mexico, this sumptuous feast of a novel tells of Tita De La Garza, the youngest daughter of the all-female De La Garza house, who is forbidden to marry her true love because of tradition that dictates she must care for her mother until her death. But through her cooking, Tita’s powerful emotions slowly emerges, creating tension in the family in fantastical ways.

10:04 by Ben Lerner

Flickering between temporalities, plot-lines converging, and the world rearranging around him, this hyper-aware, humorous, page-turning metafiction novel is about an unnamed narrator, who intersects with the author himself, that has gotten a six-figure advance to write his second novel on the strength of a story he’s published in The New Yorker, and his best friend, Alex, who wants to get pregnant using his sperm via intrauterine insemination as New York City is about to be battered by Hurricane Irene and Sandy.

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