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How to Hook a New Reader?

Me (left) and my sister when our oldest children were little.
Me (left) and my sister when our oldest children were little.

My sister and I are very different. She is only two years younger than me, but our personalities couldn’t be further apart. She didn’t understand my passion for reading and hadn’t read a book in years. Then, last summer, Fifty Shades of Grey became a publishing phenomenon and she was Fifty Shades of Greytempted to give it a try. She flew through the entire trilogy and then moved on to the Bared to You series. With a new found passion for reading she came to me for advice. Delighted that she’d begun reading I immediately ordered a copy of The Hunger Games for her and sat back, waiting for the gushing praise to materialise. Unfortunately it didn’t. She finished the book and described it as “OK.” Her main problem was that it was out of her comfort zone; too different from anything she’d experienced before. Now she’s back for another recommendation and I want to ensure that the next book she reads is perfect, but I don’t know what to suggest.

I’ve been thinking back to the books that sparked my love for reading, but I don’t think any of them are suitable. She wouldn’t enjoy Duncton Wood and Flowers in the Attic is too long. Many of the other books I read would be dated now and I don’t think she’d appreciate the darker subject matters I love. I think chick-lit is the way to go, but I don’t know what to suggest. It needs to be easy to read, compelling and, as a mother, I think she’d appreciate the inclusion of some children.

Can you think of any suitable books?

Do you know anyone who started reading after trying Fifty Shades of Grey? If so, which books did they move on to?

39 replies on “How to Hook a New Reader?”

Since it is said that Fifty Shades is Twilight fan fiction wouldn’t she like Twilight? At least book I? It definitely sounds as if she might like romance and chick lit as you say. Unfortunately I’m underread in that genre. But Jo Jo Moyes gets such a lot of high praise? Cecelia Ahern could be a winner too.

Caroline, Yes. I did think about Twilight, but I worry she won’t like the fantasy elements. I think I need to find something she can relate to first. I have heard good things about Moyes and Ahern, but I haven’t read them so haven’t a clue which ones to suggest. Hopefully someone who knows more about chick lit will be along to help soon.

Jeanne, That is a book I really want to read. Isn’t it depressing though? I’ll have to try it and see if I think she’ll like it. Thanks for reminding me about it.

Iona, That is an interesting suggestion! She’s not a big traveller so I don’t think it is quite right for her next book, but perhaps in a few months I’ll add it to the pile :-)

I would recommend Jojo Moyes (Me Before You is a good place to start) or perhaps Jane Green’s more recent books which have more of a family aspect (I didn’t like The Patchwork Marriage because it was a bit too obsessed with motherhood but other have loved it). Moving away from chick-lit but easy to read and again family orientated is Jodi Picoult. Also Marian Keyes is excellent.

Ellie, I haven’t read any of those, but a book obsessed with motherhood sounds perfect! I’ll see if I can pick up a copy from my library to check what it’s like. Thanks for the suggestions!

I’ll second JoJo Moyes (wonderful storyteller) and Marian Keyes. And I’ll add Hester Browne to the list in the “light and fun” category (her The Little Lady Agency series, specifically).

Marian Keyes is an author I used to love, but I worried the books I read 10+years ago would be dated. I guess she’s written newer ones that might be worth checking out? Kinsella isn’t an author I know much about – I’ll have a look in my library and see if The Undomestic Goddess might appeal to her. Thanks for the recomendations!

Well was going say twilight but Caroline has got there already .Jilly cooper I’ve not read her meant be quite raunchy and may be a similar feel to fifty shades all the best stu

I love chick list! I’d recommend Jennifer Weiner’s early books, or Jane Green’s early books. I second the person who suggested Sophie Kinsella. Also, Emily Giffin is really great and fun – her book Heart of the Matter centers around two characters who both have kids.

Diane, Evanovich is one of those authors I’ve heard about, but never really knew what her books were like. Thanks for letting me know – a bit of a mystery might be nice.

True…My Sister’s Keeper is a tearjerker. Salem Falls is a little less sad, though wouldn’t be Picoult without some heart wrenching drama. I’m also wondering if she might like Water for Elephants. I’ve yet to find someone who dislikes that one.

I just finished Wonder by RJ Palacio and it was wonderful. The kind of book that transcends genres and appeals to every literary taste including non-readers. I was just thinking that this is the book I would give to the non readers in my life. Hope this helps and if she does read it let me know how it goes,

I’m thinking yes to chick-lit, and romance too of course. It depends on what exactly she liked about those books, the relationships, the easy writing style, etc. I would always suggest Lisa Jewell as a good chick-lit writer, but the books are very different to 50 Shades, a bit more about life than love. Romance-wise you could try the famous authors, Nora Roberts, Eloisa James, and maybe Meg Cabot? I agree with those saying Twilight. That would be the logical next step, if easy.

Before Jilly Cooper got really famous with Riders and the rest, she wrote a series of six romance books that are actually really good (and very short). They’ are all womens’ names – Octavia, Emily, Imogen and others I’ve forgotten. They are funny and light and sexy, but not very motherhood-ish. I read The Secret Life of a Slummy Mummy by Fiona Neill and liked that very much. Good luck and let us know how you get on!

Litlove, Thanks for letting me know about the early Jilly Cooper books – I wasn’t aware they existed. I might get a copy out myself as with the back injury I can’t concentrate on anything too complex at the moment.

Well, what about Twilight? That is what the Shades of Grey series is based on — it is fan fiction I think. She might enjoy reading “the source” (which I suspect is much better).

That’s a lovely photo of you together :-)

Jojo Moyes might be a good one… though her books are quite chunky.

How about Maeve Binchy — I don’t know anyone who doesn’t love her books. Circle of Friends is a good one.

When God was a Rabbit is a very family orientated book and I flew through it and really enjoyed it. Maybe she’d like that?

Easy reads (in the best sense of the phrase):
Cutting for Stone
The Kite Runner
Gone Girl (haven’t read this one myself)

Romances:
The Bronze Horseman
The Sunne in Splendour

Political, but also about a boy who loved his (very flawed) mother:
In the Country of Men

Girl power, and a good read:
Infidel

A book with a great big heart, but perhaps too political:
Cry the Beloved Country

Erica, Thanks for all the suggestions! By coincidence I’ve just abandoned The Bronze Horseman for being too light – I think she might enjoy that. Only problem is that it is a bit long. Why are all the best books chunksters?!

There are a lot of suggestions here already but I wanted to suggest Sophie Kinsella as your next best bet. You won’t go wrong with Sophie Kinsella. I love dark theme and serious stuff but Kinsella still make me laugh a lot! :)

Hope your back is better now. Remember Health and Safety first and books second!

Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford (Chinese American). It is an easy read. It is written in the voice of Henry who is 12-15 and then 56+. It is the romance of a Chinese boy and Japanese girl in 1942, before ,during and after the Japanese Interment in Seattle. The other main characters are White and Black Americans. It will pull you into the characters and you are hoping for a sequel when you finish it.

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