Do Skydivers Prefer Thrillers?

I have recently been thinking about which books I should encourage my non-reading friends to try. I believe that most people would enjoy reading if they found the right book, but so many are turned off by the boring selection found in schools. The problem is deciding which book to recommend to a person without a list of favourite reads to draw from. 

One day I was browsing through some book blogs and noticed a few had posted about their hobbies. There seemed to be a link between the type of pastimes they enjoyed and their taste in books.

Slow Paced Books = Love for Crafts?

People who enjoyed knitting, sewing or painting tended to like quieter books. I don’t have the patience to sit quietly and create things and perhaps this personality trait means that I don’t have the tolerance to work through gentler books. I often find myself becoming bored with books that lack a strong plot and normally abandon them without getting very far. I once tried to knit a scarf and didn’t finish that either!! 

Fast Paced Books = Love for High Adrenaline Sports?

People who enjoyed sports with an adrenaline rush seemed to favour books with a fast pace. I’m easily scared and so would never jump out of a plane (or even go on a big rollercoaster!) Perhaps this is the reason that I often find books with non-stop action over-powering. I like things to slow down occasionally so that I can take a breath, admire the scenery and really get to know the characters. I find that I fly through some thrillers so quickly that I never feel I’m touching the ground – I end the book barely knowing the character’s names, let alone what they look like or why they react in the way that they do. This tends to leave me unsatisfied and is the reason I am very cautious when choosing a thriller to read. 


What about me?

I prefer more moderate hobbies – enjoying cycling, canoeing, SCUBA diving and travel to remote places of the world. This means that I tend to favour books with a medium paced plot – some action, but also sections with more depth. I like to get out and see the world without scaring myself too much.

Need to recommend a book to a non-reader?

Look at what they like to do in their time off. Pick a book that has a pace matching their need for speed. Unfortunately this doesn’t help you decide which genre to choose, but it’s a start!!

Do you agree, or are you a skydiver who enjoys Marilynne Robinson?

Does your reading pace match your hobbies?

Have you had any luck persuading a non-reader to pick up a book?

57 replies on “Do Skydivers Prefer Thrillers?”

What an interesting post – I love making things and so I suppose I sort of fit into your first category. I certainly don’t enjoy thrillers or crime but I have enjoyed books like Hearts and Minds and This is how which are pretty pacy. Will be interested to read the comments on this post.

Verity, Hearts and Minds and This is How do have a reasonable pace, but I wouldn’t describe them as fast paced books – they have that depth of character that I like and both contained amazing descriptions that would possibly bore a skydiver?!! I’m looking forward to seeing if people agree with me too!

Interesting theory, but for me the knitting/crafting = reading gentler books is flawed. I guess if you think that all knitters subscribe to Jane Brocket’s Gentle Art of Domesticity then that might be true, but most of the crafters I know see knitting/sewing etc as coming out of the DIY punk movement; they create as a response to consumerism and want to take the way that they look/dress away from the dictates of ‘fashion’ and the high street. (Also, there’s a theory that impatient people make the best crafters, that sewing and knitting etc teaches us patience and is good to focus people who just can’t keep still.) As you’ll have gathered, I’m a knitter, but would you have guessed that I was according to your theory? My most recent reads have been The Passage, The Slap, The Memory of Love, The Northern Clemency and Stone’s Fall. Oh, and The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society, which might have pointed you towards me as a knitter, but then again, I did find it a bit ho-hum…

Most of the knitters I know are also readers, but if I were to recommend a book to a crafter, I’d want something intricate, involving and puzzling, The End of Mr Y, perhaps, or Fingersmith.

Other the other hand, my mountain-biking husband doesn’t read very much at all, but he does like Lee Child, who’s pretty fast-paced and exciting, so you might have a point there!

Justine, Thank you for commenting on my blog for the first time.

I hadn’t heard that impatient people make the best crafters. I would love to develop some more patience, but I find I get so frustrated when I try to do anything fiddly or time consuming like that. I’m not convinced I’d produce something good if I was forced to put the time in, but I guess there is no way to know without trying 🙂

I have noticed that a lot of readers enjoy knitting – I love your suggestion of finding puzzling books for them. You’ve just recommended some of my favourite books there.

It does seem as though your husband prefers books with a much faster pace than you though. I haven’t read any Lee Child, but I suspect the pace is much faster than Stone’s Fall?

I’ve been following your blog for a while, Jackie, and enjoy it very much, so it’s a pleasure!

For me, I see knitting in a similar vein to the Slow Food Movement – this is a digression, but I hate the fact that you can buy a top on the high street, for just a few pounds, wear it a few times, it falls apart or out of fashion, you throw it away, and someone overseas in a factory somewhere has been paid a pittance, and has worked in less-than-ideal conditions, to make it. So for me, making a cardigan for myself means that it will last longer, fit me perfectly, and I’ll take better care of it.

And I like Lee Child, very much! I recommended him to my husband, actually. I’m very eclectic in my tastes and will read almost anything – what I don’t like is overwritten, ‘over-styled’ prose or writing that feels forced or false, I love literary fiction, but there needs to be a story or a point to it, and I’m more likely to turn to a crime novel or something a bit ‘chilling’ (I love a good ghost story) when I want an escapist read.

Still, like I say, it’s an interesting post, and I’m really interested in seeing more of the comments.

Justine, I do agree with your motives. I’m a fan of buying local produce.

I hate clothes shopping – I’m tall and so nothing ever fits. I’d love to be able to make my own, perfectly fitting clothes, but all attempts have been disasterous. I’m slighlty jealous of people who are able to create wonderful things with their own hands. You have a special talent!

I am a knitter and an all round crafter and I like fast paced books. Patience is a virture that I do not own, so I dont last long reading books that don’t grab me. I loved reading The End of Mr Y and if I remember rightly, I didn’t get much down those few days of reading that book , as I couldn’t put it down!
I also love listening to audio books whilst I am knitting and I love listening to Crime, Thrillers, Fantasy ( Terry Pratchett always makes me laugh) and the Classics ( Austen, Dickens etc). Great post!

Beth, Sorry – somehow your comment ended up in my spam folder 🙁

Listening to audio books while knitting is a great way to get round the problem of reading while holding the needles – I hadn’t thought of that!

Thank you for explaining that my theory doesn’t hold true for you. I wonder if you are just an outlier, or if my theory is rubbish!!

Heh, interesting though. I have jumped out of a plane (exhilarating, incredible, definitely forced me to face my fear of heights)… but for some reason I still can’t seem to face my fear of some of those large, old classics sitting on my shelf!!!

I wonder what non-fiction reading means? I can’t think of any good generalization for it. heh. I guess a love of research and proofreading papers?

I suppose my eclectic hobbies of some knitting, travel, kayaking, walking, etc, shows my eclectic reading tastes?

Amy, Wow! I have a fear of heights and I have no idea how you did that! Congratulations for facing your fears.

I think there is a difference between facing physical fear and generating the motivation to pick an intimidating book from the shelf.

Older classics tend to be slower and require more concentration – perhaps your ability to jump out of a plane is also what makes picking up older books less appealing?

Oh I love this post. Isn’t the blogosphere a good place to test theories!? I think I’m a bit of an odd mix. I used to be quite crafty and can knit (although a scarf is about as complicated as it gets), and I do enjoy some long chunky books, but not necessarily slow paced ones. I like them to have a bit of drama! I also love thrillers and quirky books but I’m not sure how that relates to my hobbies. In fact I think my main hobby is reading….ho hum.

Novel Insights, I love testing theories! Sometimes I get it very wrong, but it is good to find out why my theories don’t work – it gives me a greater understanding of people 🙂

My main hobby at the moment is reading too 🙂 Perhaps you could analyse your reading habits to find out what the perfect new hobby for you would be?!!!

Haha. A sort of reverse recommendation. Oh goodness, I don’t know.

As I like thrillers and also drama books maybe I need to take up some kind of slightly sedate outdoor sport. I do like cycling and ooh, actually I’ve always wanted to do horseriding…

There may be something to it. I do love my thrills – I am addicted to insane roller coasters – and I do love action packed, sick and twisted thriller books. But I can also love the gentle, subtle books too, when I am in the right mood. I am a Gemini, whose sign is the twin, so by nature I do have two sides. Hmmm. Do you think we could incorporate the horoscope into book recommendations too?

Sandy, I’m a Gemini too 😉 I’m not sure we should bring horoscopes into this discussion – that sounds like a whole other post 🙂 but perhaps that accounts for your love of different book/hobby types. Sounds as though I’m not a typical Gemini on that count!

What a fascinating post this is, Jackie. It’s something I’ve never considered before, but after giving some thought as to how my hobbies and interests relate to my reading tastes, I think you might be right. I could never jump out of a plane either, so maybe that explains why I don’t usually enjoy thrillers!

Helen, I’m fascinated by all the different personality types in the world – I think I need to find a book about it 🙂 I’m pleased to hear that my theory is proving correct for you.

I am definately slow pace ,I meander and daydream a lot walk my dog slowly so not fast paced at all ,may be it is reflected in my books not overly sure ,I m not a huge fan of fast paced books ,I prefer slow and thinking books ,all the best stu

I tend to enjoy a mix of books all depending on my mood… sometimes I want a fast-paced thriller, other times I want a more quiet and reflective novel that luxuriates in its language and introspection but not much else. What does this mean about me?!? My hobbies involve cooking, traveling, and playing with the pups… Are those middle of the road/moderate activities or am I just all over the board? 😀

Steph, I guess that those all count as fairly moderate activities, but you do have fairly broad taste in reading so perhaps you’re disproving my theory 🙂

Im a sewer and my mums a knitter but my mum certainly goes for more fast paced plots than me, I like the slower books I guess. I know very few non-readers, I know someone at work thats very melodramatic so I would recommened something filled with melodrama for her. I hope nobody ever asks, Id hate that kind of pressure 😉

Jessica, Non-readers don’t ask me either, but I like to do my bit to try and persuade them reading is enjoyable 😉 I hope that you can find a melodramitic book to pass onto your collegue!!

I don’t think looking at my hobbies would help anyone pick a book for me. When I’m not reading I enjoy needle work and gardening. This would naturally point a recommendation toward more gentle books for me, but that is not the case at all. While I enjoy many different genres, I’d have to say I have a real appreciation for science fiction and action/adventure novels.

Lori, Thanks for letting me know that my theory doesn’t work for everyone – I’ll have to think about how I can adapt it a bit more 🙂

I’m sort of all over the map on the books I choose so not sure what that says about my personality. I think my reading choices are almost always indicative of my current mood or also if I am traveling or reading quietly at home.

Kathleen, My mood comes into my reading choices a lot too. Sometimes I just have to ignore my massive TBR pile and pick up something light and funny from the library, but other times I just need something dark. It would be good if all books could have a rating on them to show us how sad/happy they are as it is often difficult to know from the cover.

What an interesting post!! I think you might be on to something. I like slow-medium paced books, I feel quite cheated by fast paced books, which is bizarre. For me it can be like talking to someone who speaks a million words per minute but 90% of what they’re saying is rubbish. Ironically the one time I tried sky-diving I had an accident and got injured. I don’t think that kind of adrenaline rush is for me!!

Elise, Sorry to learn that your skydiving experience wasn’t very good 🙁 Sounds like you should stick to the medium paced books and activities 🙂

I absolutely agree that there’s a book for everyone. When I taught high school, I had a student completely resistant to reading, but he adored hunting, fishing, and all other sorts of outdoor endeavors. I hooked him up with Huckleberry Finn and he looooved it. I don’t know that he was ever converted to reading, but he certainly was entertained for a bit.

Between skydiving and Marilynne Robinson, I definitely choose the latter! 🙂
My hobbies including reading (does that surprise you?), hiking, independent travel, going to symphony orchestra, and playing with my dog. I tend to read more of a crafted book like literary fiction and literature, but also enjoy a comfort read and thriller every once in a while. It depends on my mood.

Matt, I was almost hoping that you’d say you enjoyed skydiving and Marilynne Robinson! Nevermind. It looks as though you are almost supporting my theory 🙂

Lovely idea, but I find it doesn’t apply to me. I would consider my self arts & crafty and not sporty at all. I generally prefer a bit of pace to my reading (but not always). I don’t do much knitting or sewing these days though – takes up too much reading and blogging time! Marilynne Robinson is definitely not an author for me.

Annabel, The fact that you can’t do knitting at the same time as reading is a big negative for me – I don’t think I’d ever take up a hobby in my home that would eat into my reading time. I like to do loads of stuff outside during the day, but the evenings are for friends or readings only 🙂

Another fascinating post Jackie, but I think that I am another awkward one who can’t be fitted into any particular category.
I can’t knit, my sewing is of the turning up hems and replacing buttons level and while I have always harboured a desire to do something like patchwork I have never given in to it because I suspect that it would end up as a costly mistake! I used to enjoy tapestry before kids and cats intervened but that’s about it for crafts and I’m not exactly actionwoman either as the only sport I was ever any good at was horse riding and I haven’t done that for years!
The last six books I read on the other hand were: Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book, Dead In the Family by Charlaine Harris, To Defy A King by Elizabeth Chadwick, Courtiers by Lucy Worsley (about Kensington Palace), The Scarecrow by Michael Connolly and They Were Sisters by Dorothy Whipple! Not sure what that says about me!
I’m not convinced that all non-readers can be converted BTW – I have been trying to convert my non-reading other half for 30 years but the best I can do is that he will read a book while on holiday (providing we are somewhere out of reach of a TV!) but not touch one until the next holiday!
My daughter in law has had better luck with my eldest son however and I think that I have had a break through with junior son since I introduced him to the books of George Pelecanos (he is a huge fan of The Wire).

LizF, Sorry you’ve failed to convert your non-reader. It sounds as though he enjoys reading, but just prefers TV a bit more – at least he reads a bit on holiday 🙂

I would love to be able to create a patchwork quilt, but have no eye for design so am convinced it would look terrible!

Don’t worry about being awkward – it seems as though there are a lot of people who aren’t able to be fitted into a category 🙂

This was an interesting post Jackie. I have no patience for crafts or slower paced novels. As far as other hobbies, reading and gardening are my only real passions, and for books I prefer literary fiction or thrillers that are character driven, but I do need a healthy dose on non fiction as well.

Not sure what that says about me?? LOL

My reading prefrences totally reflect on my mood, If im in a hyper mood i want to read something fast and full of action yet if im in a low, mellow mood i want to read something romantic and so on….totally works for me all the time

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Ayesha, Interesting. So some days you’d be quite happy to go on a mad roller coaster and then read a book packed with action, but then on other days all your activities need to be calm? This is all so complicated!

Hmmm…my Dad used to always say about my Mom that she would rather read about climbing a mountain than go climb a mountain. So I don’t know if the quieter, more sedentary people necessarily don’t like fast paced books.

What a fascinating post. I know my interests mirror my reading habits quite closely – I love cooking and travel, which goes with a love of slow, literary fiction I guess; but I also love going to music gigs at the slightly grungy end of the spectrum, especially in slightly beat-up seedy venues, and that goes with a love of contemporary literary fiction.

As a self-publishing writer who wants to reach readers directly, the point behind this post is very important to me. If it’s not true, then I’m scuppered. I do a lot of live events at which I do readings and sell my books, and always try to combine readings with music. I also do reviews for the kind of music I love, and the fact I’m a writer gets mentioned in the byline. The response has so far been really positive, which would suggest you’re spot on. And yes, at our music & words nights we have actually got some people reading who were non-readers but came for the music and loved the words.

Dan, It is fantastic to know that you are encouraging new readers through music. I hadn’t thought about how my taste in music reflects the type of books I enjoy. I’ll have to think about that a bit more 🙂

I’ve been working on trying to get my husband (a non-reader) to read books for 10 years now. I think the key is finding out a book that has somehow spoken to them in the past and finding similar themed books. Picking books aligned with their interests is another key. Fun post!

Jenners, I find that taking them somewhere really dull helps. Ensure there is nothing to do, but read a book and they eventually cave in and try the first chapter!

I have a really hard time picking out books for people who don’t read much–not least because I suspect I’ll get them a book and they’ll never read it. Which tends to be what happens. Alas! I think a taste for reading may be something you have to pick up relatively early in life.

How interesting!

Though I have to say, I am a huge fan of rollercoasters and I count my skydive last year as possibly THE best experience of my life, yet I love epic, sweeping sagas, great character development and lotsa detail. I certainly like a plot but it doesn’t have to be adrenalin-pumping the whole way through…I like to stop and smell the roses!

Well Jackie, I am a little bit behind in my reading, but what would you do with me? I knit, sew, do crafts, sky dive, scuba dive, travel internationally and ride motorcycles. So, what do I read? Hate romance novels and chic lit. Love Medium paced books and thrillers. Sometimes thrillers are too gory or not developed enough as you stated. Love literary fiction as long as it isn’t so deep that I can’t understand it at all. I love fantasy, some scify, HATE vampires. Read some YA for light easy reads when I am tired. Love southern fiction, guess that is because I am from the south and can relate. I love and have been reading for a couple of years now, international authors especially Swedish and Danish authors.

My greatest success with getting non-readers to read was with my son. I picked out books that were totally different like My Ishmael and gave them to him. He would come back and say “hey mom that was really good, weird but good.” It was a game to see what I could find that was different that might catch his interest. Now he reads all the time. He prefers non-fiction books and anything I send his way. He knows it will be interesting at least.

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