Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Remember my Friend the Non-Reader?

In February of this year, I requested your help in coming up with book recommendations for a coworker who wanted to read at least two books this year. He was not a reader, not having a book in many years. He envied his daughter and I who could so easily lose ourselves in a book and wondered what it was about books that could draw us in so completely.

He started off with The Things by Carried by Tim O'Brien, a work of fiction with a bit of nonfiction mixed in for good measure about a company of soldiers during the Vietnam War. It is not a book I have read (I hope to next year as part of the Vietnam War Challenge), but it comes highly recommended, including by my dad. My coworker stretched out the reading of the book over several months. I did not want to be a pest, and so I kept my distance and only occasionally asked if he was enjoying it. He always said he was and sometimes would talk about a story he'd just finished. His final verdict: great. He was eager to try something else.

Keeping with the war theme, he next picked up Catch-22 by Joseph Teller, a classic novel I had read a couple of years ago. He plowed through it and loved every minute. He couldn't stop talking about how funny the novel was. Like my husband, his favorite character was Major Major.

My coworker's daughter was pleased to see her father reading and offered her own recommendation: Along Came a Spider by James Patterson, the first in the Alex Cross crime fiction series. He liked the short chapters and fast-pace of the novel. He was shocked when I told him how many books James Patterson had written. I hope to convince him to give Michael Connelly a try this next year.

The pressure from a fellow coworker and his own daughter got to be too much to bear, and last month he began reading Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. Rowling. He finished it this past weekend. He was skeptical at first and while he hasn't made up his mind yet if he will continue with the series, he did like the book. He's not sure the fantasy realm is for him though.

He surpassed his goal of reading two books this year and read four. He read quite a variety too, wouldn't you say? He is quite proud of his accomplishment and I couldn't be more pleased. His favorite of the four was The Things They Carried. He is eager to read more crime fiction novels and to try nonfiction. You can bet I have a list ready! Between his daughter and I, I don't think he'll ever run out of book choices.

© 2009, Wendy Runyon of Musings of a Bookish Kitty. All Rights Reserved.
If you're reading this on a site other than Musings of a Bookish Kitty or Wendy's feed, be aware that this post has been stolen and is used without permission.


  1. Oh no Wendy!! You've created a READING MONSTER!! LOL...I love how our love of reading can inspire others to pick up a book and then find out there was a voracious reader hiding inside all the time!!

    Merry Christmas!!!

  2. Now that is a great success story. You should feel proud! Him too!

  3. How great is that that you've helped to create a reader!

  4. What a wonderful Christmas story, to warm the cockles of all readers' hearts.

    Alex Cross books would be great books for nonreader-types.

  5. thanks for the follow-up Wendy! Also, he really tried some heavy fare to begin with!

    Happy Holidays!

  6. To me there is nothing more rewarding than to turn someone on to reading, or bring someone back to reading. That is awesome. Funny you should mention The Things They Carried. I saw it mentioned this month in Bookmarks and wrote it down for the Vietnam Challenge!

  7. That is great! Thanks for the follow up.

  8. That is a wonderful story! I am so impressed that you converted a non-reader with the help of his reading daughter. I think it was so smart that you recommended a book about the Vietnam War and a very good one at that (well, it sounds good. I haven't yet read it but i put it on my tbr!)
    It sounds to me like you'll be able to get your co-worker to give Michael Connelly a try at least!

  9. It sounds like you've converted a non-reader and brought him over to our side! I'll have to look for The Things They Carried for the Vietnam Challenge as well.

  10. Yay for him! I agree that The Things They Carried is a very powerful book.

  11. Congratulations on fostering a new reader, and thanks for the update on his progress! With a guide like you, he can't go wrong :-).

  12. We need more motivators like you in the world! I'd like reading to become a plague of sorts...with no known cure in the UNIVERSE!

    By the way, I noticed you copyrighted your blog entries. Is blog-post stealing a common phenomena?

  13. What a heartwarming story! I love when non-readers become readers!

  14. Staci - I have, haven't I? LOL I'm relieved it worked in this case. Hopefully he'll continue to enjoy reading the more he reads.

    Merry Christmas to you too!

    Diane - I do! And so does he. :-)

    Melissa - It's such a good feeling. I didn't do it alone though. :-) I've never met his daughter, but even so, we make a pretty good team. LOL

    Elizabeth (Raidergirl3) - I agree about the Alex Cross books. They appeal to a wide range of people, including those who don't often read.

    Amy (My Friend Amy) - I was surprised when he wanted to tackle Catch-22 (I'd given him several different choices). But he really liked it.

    Sandy - Turning someone on to reading definitely is rewarding. There's nothing quite like seeing someone get excited over a book. I am looking forward to finally reading The Things They Carried this next year too. It's one of my picks for the Vietnam Challenge for sure.

    Lisa - isn't it though? I'm so happy for him. :-)

  15. Amy (Seven Tails) - He was the one who did all the work. Not to mention how motivated he was to try. :-) I just threw some book titles at him to try.

    I have a feeling he'll really like Michael Connelly's books. :-)

    Kathy - I told him the other day that I think he's always been a reader; he just didn't know it.

    It sounds like quite a few of us will be reading The Things They Carried for the Vietnam Challenge. Maybe that should have been the group read this next year.

    Aarti - I am looking forward to finally reading The Things They Carried. I've heard such great things about it.

    Florinda - Thanks! I was honestly surprised he went on to read four books this year.

    Linz - Thank you! You're onto a great idea there--reading as an incurable plague. :-)

    I am not sure if blog-post stealing is common, but several bloggers I know, including myself, have had instances where our posts were stolen and posted on other sites without permission or proper credit.

    Marie - Thank you. :-)

    Kathleen - So do I. He's opened himself up to so many new opportunities and experiences.

  16. Thanks for giving us an update! Was that really all the way back in February?

  17. How terrific! warms the heart of this reader...

  18. My non-reader is still reading on the book I gave her...back in the summer. Oh well. No pressure. Maybe I'll give her another.

    I really thought Janet Evanovich would do it for her.

  19. That's great news! You should get him to try some of Stephen King's short stories such as The Body.

  20. Carrie - It is hard to believe we got him started back in February, isn't it?

    Care - It does! I hope he continues to enjoy reading for many years to come.

    Readerbuzz - At least she is still reading!

    Esme - Merry Christmas to you too, Esme. :-)

    Jen - That's a great idea!

  21. I think your co-worker is like most non-readers; they just haven't found the books that interest them yet. If he likes the war stuff and is looking at non-fiction, I would recommend "The Greatest Generation" by Tom Brokaw.

  22. Lisa - I'll have to mention the Brokaw book to him. Thanks for the recommendation.

  23. I do remember your non-reader friend and I thank you for the update! I think many people enjoy reading, they just don't make time to do it or fit it into their lives. So unlike us bookish people for whom books are like water and air, we must have some every day!

  24. Tara - I wouldn't be surprised if that were the case. I know a number of people who do enjoy reading but never seem to be able to fit it in. I kind of felt like that this year. :-(

  25. This is so cool, It's so much fun suggesting books to a non-reader and finding out that he enjoyed them :)

    I hope he keeps on reading...

  26. Violet - I hope he keeps reading too. He has so many great books ahead of him. :-)

  27. Good for him, reading so much more than he planned. And good for you helping to tailor your suggestions to what he'd enjoy.

  28. wow, what a great accomplishment! The Things They Carried is one of the best books I've read...and I cannot recommend Tim O'Brien enough. He's an excellent writer. I love the Alex Cross series by Patterson.

    I hope that your friend will be reading more in 2010...maybe he'll start his own blog! LOL

  29. Kristen - I think it worked out well doing it that way. :-)

    Serena - I am looking forward to reading The Things They Carried this next year. I can't believe I still haven't read it.

    He is still deciding on what his first book for the new year will be, but he's looking forward to it.

  30. I love finding the perfect book for non-readers!

  31. Melissa - I do too! It can be a lot of fun, especially when the person ends up loving the book. :-)


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