Jana Says

Living life from cover to cover


Encouraging the non-reader

If I remember my American history correctly (which, let’s face it, I might not. You know, because I’m getting old), pioneers loved books (well, the ones who could read loved books). And given the fact that books and magazines were not published with the frequency that they are today, and were not as readily available as they are today, they treasured the ones they could get their hands on.

books 2I get it. I love books. Like, a lot. I genuinely cannot remember a time in my life that I couldn’t read or had bookshelves full of books or a list of more books to read than I could ever find time for. Everything about books makes me happy and I’m pretty sure one of my dream jobs would be working as a book buyer for my state’s library system. Buying books with someone else’s money?!

Sign. Me. Up.

Given my enthusiasm for books, it makes me sad when people tell me they don’t like to read, especially when you think about the pioneers who wanted books and had no access to them. I once worked with a woman who told me she hadn’t been to a library since her son, who was 22 at the time, was a toddler. I wept a little inside at that comment. But it’s people like her that I want to reach. It’s people like her that I want to come around and understand the immense value and power of books.

But how?

That’s the hard part.

So I started brainstorming some ideas for getting those who don’t enjoy reading to read more (and enjoy it!). Or, at the very least, to give it a shot. Here’s what I came up with:

Start a book club
Invite some friends or co-workers and choose a book with widespread appeal (even if you don’t understand the appeal of the book. Yes, 50 Shades series, I’m looking at you). Make it an enjoyable experience and hold the monthly discussions at a restaurant or hold a potluck. Talk about the book in general rather than philosophical terms. If you don’t want to start a book club, recommend one that you know about (like the Little House book club I’m hosting).

Attend an author reading
Sometimes seeing an author passionately speak about a book or read passages from it is enough to get you hooked. I saw Garth Stein do a talk/reading about The Art of Racing in the Rain a few years ago and I am an even bigger fan now. If someone you know isn’t into reading, try to convince them to go with you to something like that, especially if it’s free. They might make a personal connection to the author and give his or her books a try.

Buy books as gifts
I know that for someone who doesn’t like to read, a book may seem like a strange gift. But maybe she doesn’t read because the thought of picking out a book is overwhelming or they just don’t know what they like to read or he doesn’t have the money to buy books or something else. If you take some time to think about that person’s interests, likes, hobbies, etc., I’m certain you will find something enjoyable for that person to read. Then, she might read it because it a) was free and b) is in the house.

Some other ideas I came up with are: drive someone to the library and on the way, espouse the benefits using it; talk about or mention books you’re reading in conversations (as in “Did you see the trailer for Gone Girl? What a great book! I hope the movie does it justice.”); or you can mention all the ways that your kids’ school encourages them to read or the free programs to get books to kids (PJ Library, Imagination Library) and how you wish adults had that. This might open up a conversation, too.books 1

I understand that book brainwashing might not be effective on everyone. But if one person converts from a non-reader to a reader, then it’s worth it.



What would you do to convince someone to start reading more or just start reading?