A book for beginners

I come across many non-readers who show an inclination to become readers. When they realize I read books, they ask me to suggest a book for them. I always find myself in situations like this one and don’t really have a good book suggestion for beginners.

When it comes to kids, it is a bit easier. Depending on the age, either you get them started with Amar Chitra Katha or Tom Sawyer or Enid Blyton. Harry Potter is a major contender, but I wouldn’t suggest that because of the hype around it. When kids go around telling people they have read Potter books it is more to say ‘I read Potter books’ than ‘I read books’.

When it comes to grown-ups, things get complicated. Since these are non-readers, you can’t even ask them what kind of books they like. So it is upto us to decide the genre and the book. I would suggest a fast moving book which is over before the reader can say ‘boring’. The book should be gripping. From page one, the reader should be totally into it and find it hard to keep the book down. Language is another aspect – it shouldn’t be too hi-fi that one needs a dictionary for every word and also it shouldn’t be too simple. For a first book, I wouldn’t want a heavy one, literally and figuratively. There shouldn’t be any philosophy or moral of the story in the end. In other words, the first book should be like a masaledar Hindi movie.

Looking at these criteria and looking at the small variety of books I have read, the first author that comes to mind is Jeffrey Archer. (Some people may say Sidney Sheldon. I can’t comment on that because I have never read that author.) Now that I have narrowed down on the author, I have to choose a book. Everybody’s favorite is Not a penny more, not a penny less. I think Kane and Abel is a better choice for beginners. If the reader has a short attention span, Archer’s short stories will also do, especially A twist in the tale.

I haven’t yet tried this experiment. I rarely hear back from non-readers about my suggestion and their eventual attempt. I assume that person never bought the book and he/she is only too happy that I didn’t bring up the topic.

Anyways, Kane and Abel or A twist in the tale will be my answer whenever I am asked for a suggestion. What do you readers think?

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3 Responses to “A book for beginners”

  1. Anu Says:

    Methinks, Jeffrey Archer’s short stories are the best bet any day.
    His ‘Not a Penny More, Not a Penny Less’ is superb too.

    May be the Alchemist will be a good read for the philosophically inclined.

    It is Enid Blyton for the kids, no doubt about that either. Roald Dahl’s books are great as well.

  2. G Says:

    For tweens, I would suggest Jonathan Livingston Seagull. It is a very influential book.

    Alchemist is a little too deep for some. There are other semi-philosophical ones (if they are inclined towards such kind) which are good for beginners – The Celestine Prophecy is one.

    If someone just wants a book to be able to say ‘I read’ (it is fashionable to say so, doesn’t matter if it is just one book they have read in their lifetime), stuff like DaVinci Code is also good.

    But it becomes our obligation to refer a good one and hope some of them get hooked for life.

  3. Anaamica Says:

    Ummm, Seagull for teens is heavy. For a beginner, it’s just too much. I would start with a lighter one and then move on to this. It is a good book, no doubt, but not so good for a beginner.

    Yeah, books like Da Vinci Code are successful in making reading fashionable. Many people don’t actually read it, but say that they have read it. And some people actually sit down and read it and I can only hope they get hooked.


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