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broodings from the burrow

November 3, 2021


top ten tuesday: books for non-readers
posted by soe 1:26 am

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday topic from That Artsy Reader girl invites us to consider titles that we’d share with those who claim not to love reading.

I decided I’d break my list up into three audiences:

    1. Kids:

    2. The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick: Honestly, any of Selznick’s three historical fiction chunksters would work, but I have an especial fondness for this one set in a Paris train station and focused on early film and automatons. The way he alternates narrative and visual storytelling is unlike any other author I’ve encountered, making turning the pages compelling. Plus it will give kids who don’t think they like reading the satisfaction and confidence of having finished — and loved — a 500-page book.
    3. Kwame Alexander’s The Crossover: A verse novel about two basketball loving twin brothers where the rhythm of the narrative follows that of playing the game. If you’ve got a hoops-loving kid, I think this would be a great choice.
    4. Jen Wang’s The Prince and the Dressmaker: In this graphic historical novel, Prince Sebastian and Frances, a dressmaker, share a secret, that he has a secret identity as cutting-edge fashion icon Lady Crystallia, leaving him little time for the girls his parents keep trying to pair him up with. Graphic novels are a great way to get kids who don’t love reading picking up printed material. If your kid has exhausted superheroes or collected comic books and wants to move on, this would still offer someone in a costume and figuring out how to live an authentic life when the world may not yet be ready for your truth.
    5. Young adults:

    6. Jason Reynolds’ Long Way Down: This verse novel takes place during a single minute-long elevator ride and deals with gun violence, family, loyalty, and vengeance, with an open ending that will leave teens talking about what happens next.
    7. Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book: This follows the story of a boy raised in a cemetery by the ghosts of the people interred there and what that means when a threat from the living world tracks him down there.
    8. Illumninae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff: This is another chunkster, but this time aimed at teens, rather than tweens, and set in space. Its epistolary style (told through emails, video logs, and other reports) makes for frequent stopping points and multiple points of view, plus there’s a killer AI who also gets to share its perspective.
    9. The Port Chicago 50: Disaster, Mutiny, and the Fight for Civil Rights by Steve Sheinkin: This story of fighting racism in the military during WWII is outrageous. The fact that we don’t know their story and that no one has been unable to reverse the outcome is a tragedy.
    10. Adults:

    11. Crazy ’08: How a Cast of Cranks, Rogues, Boneheads, and Magnates Created the Greatest Year in Baseball History by Cait Murphy: I feel like sports fans are an untapped market for nonfiction. Baseball fans, in particular, tend to be a wonky bunch, who love to focus on stats and minutia. This is a story from early baseball (1908, rather than our most recent ’08) told in great narrative fiction style.
    12. Peter Mayle’s A Year in Provence: This is a laugh-out-loud story about a couple who goes on an amazing vacation and decides they’d love to relocate there permanently. When they buy a ramshackle house in need of many repairs, they must quickly adjust to repairpeople with different life approaches, what red tape means when you’re working with a second language, and how their primary residence becomes the vacation destination for everyone they’ve ever met. If you’ve got a DIY fixer-upper project of your own, this is the read for you.
    13. Mama Makes Up Her Mind and Other Dangers of Southern Living by Bailey White: Any book that has me laughing aloud on a cross-country plane flight is probably a good one to share. And this one, about family in Georgia, is no exception.

    How about you? Any book you think would be great to share the written word with someone who may think they may not share your passion for reading?

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