Can a non-reader become a reader?

28/01/2015 Discussions, Reading 18

Can a non-reader become a reader?My sister is my best friend, and we’re alike in so many ways. We both have the same taste in music, and drive around everywhere belting out our favourites. We’re the same size and have the same taste in clothes and may as well have a joint wardrobe. We both love going to the cinema, ice-skating and trips to Tesco ‘for a couple of bits’ where we actually spend an obscene amount of money on what amounts to a whole load of rubbish. We even hang out with the same people, and look so similar people often think we’re twins (less so now – I’m the one with the pink hair!).

But there has always been one fundamental difference between us: I’m an avid reader and she isn’t. Whilst I love a lengthy browse in the bookshop she usually trails in my wake looking like she might fall asleep at any minute and is thoroughly unimpressed by my excitable exclamations about how I’ve wanted to read a certain book for ages, or about how the new edition of this other book is way nicer than the old one.

So imagine my surprise when the other day she started to look at a few books herself! What madness is this? I asked myself. My little sister wants to start reading!? It turns out she wants to have something more to do than mess around on her phone on her breaks at work and thought she might try reading! Naturally I was delighted, and even more so when it sparked an interesting question for a discussion post!

A while back I did a post called ‘Where My Love of Reading Began’ where I detailed my own reading journey and how I came to be such a bookworm. For me it started very early on, from learning to read very young, and just progressed from there, spurred on by the discovery of some books I truly loved (Jacqueline Wilson books, Harry Potter, The Lord of the Rings etc.). From a lot of the responses the post got, it seemed like many people were the same – they started reading young. But surely that isn’t everyone’s story? Surely some people must get into reading in later life (not that it’s exactly ‘later life’ for my sister – she’s only eighteen!)? Or are some people just naturally more bookish?

My personal theory is that everyone can get into reading if only they can find that one book that is just so amazing they can’t put it down, and whilst they want to get to the end, they also feel gutted when they have finished and it’s over (we’ve all been there!). Maybe bookworms are just people who have found their ‘book soulmate’ in early life? I’m not sure, but I’m on a quest to find my sister’s perfect book anyway! Another way in which she differs from me is that she likes horror films, but seen as I don’t really read horror (as discussed here) I unfortunately can’t make any recommendations, so if anyone has any, please let me know!

So far I have suggested Before I Go To Sleep, as I for one could barely put it down – I just had to find out who Christine could really trust and what the hell was going on! Hopefully she will enjoy it and get into reading (then she could do guest reviews! Yay!).

Anyway, I want to know your thoughts on the subject. Can a non-reader be converted into a bookworm? And does it just take the perfect book?

18 Responses to “Can a non-reader become a reader?”

  1. Becca Lostinbooks

    Great post, Laura, and yay for your sister trying out reading!

    I would suggest that she start out by choosing books that match her movie preferences. If she likes LOTR, give her the books to read. If she liked The Lincoln Lawyer, give her Connelly’s book or one in a similar vein.

    I totally agree with you that non-readers can become readers if they find that one book that is a hook. A hook book! lol Some people will never be readers, but if she is showing interest, she certainly may become one. I know I read a lot when I was young but did not as a teen, and identified as a non-reader, because I hated the books school assigned me and I did not get back into it until I was in college, and for pleasure, as an adult. You never know!

    • Laura

      I think choosing books that match her movie preferences is a great idea! I will have to suggest that to her, and hopefully she will find a ‘hook book’ (I like that name!).
      And I had a bit of a stage in my teens when I stopped reading as much too, and I think I was partly put off by being forced to read books I didn’t want to read for school as well!

  2. Sarah H

    Lol, I’m one of those who became “late” reader. When I was younger I barely read, but every book I decided to open, I read in a day or two. I think the reading gene was always inside me, it’s just that I never used it. Too lazy, lol!

    • Laura

      Well it’s good to know some people can become readers later on, as I definitely hope my sister gets into it! Like you say though, most people probably either have the ‘reading gene’ or don’t, even if they maybe don’t use it that often.

  3. born and read

    I really hope you can convert non-readers, otherwise I’m fighting a losing battle with my boyfriend ;). Before I go to sleep is a great recommendation I think – totally gripping and suspenseful, and easy to read. I hope she likes it!

    • Laura

      I’m hoping she will love Before I Go To Sleep, as it is one of those books it’s hard to put down! Good luck converting your boyfriend!

  4. Ardelia

    My brother and I were in the same boat as you and your sister when we were growing up. I loved reading, but he didn’t really care for it. However, he started reading avidly about two years ago (at the ripe old age of 19 🙂 ). It turns out he needed to find the right genre. He loves self-improvement/business books, so he reads those like crazy. All my mom and I ever tried to get him to read were fiction books. I think your theory is right – some people just need to find the right book (or genre) to get them going.

    • Laura

      That’s so great that your brother got into reading like that at 19! Hopefully my sister will find her genre/book too and really get into it (and I hadn’t actually thought about suggesting non-fiction – maybe that would be her thing?). My fingers are crossed!

  5. Inge @ Bookshelf Reflections

    A non-reader can definitely become a reader. Case in point: myself. I used to hate reading, I thought it was boring and I didn’t get the appeal. But then, for some reason, I decided to read Twilight at the age of 16, and then I picked up some other books that were similar, and that’s how I got into reading. Now I’ve read nearly 400 books and I’m not stopping anytime soon! For me, it was definitely a book that wanted me to pick up other books, but it could also be a change in your mindset.

    • Laura

      That’s great that you got into reading! I guess you do just need to find the kind of books you like, and I agree that it could also be a change in mindset as well. Thanks for commenting!

  6. Selah @ A Bibliophile's Style

    My husband has always wanted to be a reader and loves that I am a reader, but he struggled with learning to read as a child, so he has always viewed reading as HARD.
    Then he got into hobby board gaming. Whenever he buys a new game he reads the rules 2-3 times in order to make sure he fully understands and can teach the rules to others. That’s a LOT of reading!
    Now, he’s started reading and loving graphic novels. He is finally a reader! He’s 37. It can happen!

    • Laura

      That’s a really interesting way of getting into reading! Maybe the secret is to not force it and think ‘I’m going to start reading’, as it sounds like reading graphic novels was just a natural progression for your husband from reading the gaming rulebooks.
      Thanks for commenting!

  7. Sabio

    My ex-girlfriend red to me every second night. She let me pick up a book that I would be interested on (atheism) and red it to me at night as I was not motivated to read. After a book finished we started with the same topic, deeper this time. Well, I must say that every second day was not enough. I ended up taking over the reading and finishing the books by myself. This happened when I was 24.

    I think the most important thing of each individual is to find that topic(s) that really interest them.

    • Laura

      That’s so great that you got into reading like that! 🙂
      And I totally agree – it’s all about finding the right topic for you. If you’re really interested in the topic then the fact that it’s reading doesn’t really come into it.

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