My friends know me as the book guy. It warms my heart.
In recent years, many of them have expressed an interest in reading.
“I don’t remember the last time I read a book. I want to start reading. What should I read?”
At which point I malfunction and collapse into a pile of smoking circuitry.
What if they hate my recommendation and it ruins reading for them forever?
What have I even read recently? This last year? The last 5, 10, 20 years? WHY CAN’T I THINK OF ANY BOOKS!?
It’s a high-stakes question. Hence this article. Let’s demystify the “What should I read?” question once and for all.
Five books to help you fall in love (or back in love) with reading:
1. Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck or Animal Farm by George Orwell
Why? — Emotionally captivating, suspenseful page turners around 100 pages long.
Will quickly transform you from “I don’t remember the last time I read a book,” to, “I just read a book.”
Warning: both are fairly depressing.
2. The Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling
Why? — A bestseller of (nearly) biblical proportions.
The seven Harry Potter books are all among the bestselling books of all time. This isn’t a fluke. They are very good.
By the end of your week/month/year-long Potter binge, you’ll be a seasoned reading veteran.
Alternative — If you’re drawn to The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkein, start with The Hobbit and decide if you’d like to plunge into the main series. They are more difficult to read than Harry Potter but rewarding nonetheless.
3. Different Seasons by Stephen King
Why? — Four King novella’s packed into one epic collection.
Different Seasons offers crash course in one of the greatest storytellers of all time, including legendary stories such as Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption and The Body, which you might know as the popular films The Shawshank Redemption and Stand By Me.
If you like King’s writing, you’ve got a LOT of options for what to read next.
“I only read nonfiction” is another sentiment I hear, often from the “I need to read more” people.
Is there a connection here? Yes. If you’re one of these people, stop being silly. Read fiction too.
With that out of the way, let’s close out the list with some nonfiction recommendations.
4. Getting There by Gillian Zoe Segal or Tools of Titans by Tim Ferriss
Why? — Easily digestible, fascinating mini-biographies. Also, both are pleasantly orange.
These anthologies contain an assortment of excerpts from interviews with brilliant and highly successful individuals. In Getting There, the interviews are presented as autobiographical short essays. In Tools of Titans, the interviews are condensed into inspirational quotes and actionable success tactics.
I recommend Getting There because the hardcover with glossy photos is a beautiful item to behold and it’s an easier read than Tools of Titans, but you can’t go wrong with either.
5. My Booky Wook by Russell Brand or Scar Tissue by Anthony Keadis OR Bossypants by Tina Fey
Why? — Gripping, surreal, masterfully written, and frequently hilarious true recollections from iconic storytellers.
Booky Wook and Scar Tissue are similar. Booky Wook is much funnier and Scar Tissue is more rock and roll. Booky Wook is very British and Scar Tissue is very American. Both offer an abundance of sex, drugs, and debauchery.
Keadis and Brand are shockingly good writers, though Brand may be in a class of his own (seriously, the guy is an eccentric genius).
Bossypants is a hilariously honest, self-deprecating journey through the life of a comedic genius. Get a glimpse of Fey’s inner workings as she recounts her tumultuous rise to stardom, scars and all.