“Children, I said to her. For the first little while, they not exactly human, you don't find?”
Nalo Hopkinson

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Works of Literature I Recommend For Non-Readers.

Literary Blog Hop
The Blue Bookcase Blog Hop
It seems that people don't like to read literature because they think literaure is complicated, dull, and not connection to real life.  English classes in school may contribute to this belief.  Many people have had instructors who use their favorite texts in classes.  Of course, teachers want students to like them too.  Unfortunately young people, middle-aged people, and old people tend to resist on principle what is forced upon them.  It's human nature.
When my son Bub was in middle school he would not read.  Do you hear me?  Nothing.  That boy wouldn't even read a comic book.  So I read Letter From A Birmingham Jail by Martin Luther King aloud to him and some Langston Hughes poetry.  I was taking an African American literature class at the time and I had an anthology.  He had never heard any of it before and he liked it.  He seemed to have an interest in American realism and history.  So I wondered what he would think of the Easy Rawlins mysteries by Walter Mosely.  The boy was hooked.  He has read the whole series.  

Anthologies are good because they contain different kinds of writing from a variety of authors.  The stories are shorter so less time commitment is required.  There is a good chance there is something in an anthology a non-reader of literature would like. 

Most of these books are from classes I took in college.  I recommend:
  • Classic Irish Short Stories Compiled by Frank O'Connor.
  • The Best Short Stories by Black Writers, 1899-1967 Edited by Langston Hughes.
  • The Norton Anthology By Women: The Tradition in English Edited by Sandra M. Gilbert and Susan Gubar.
  • Longman Anthology of Detective Fiction  Deanne Mansfield-Kelly and Lois Marchino.
Another thing that helped a few non-readers I know is to listen to literature read aloud.  Several months ago we lost power for a day and I read "Sweat" by Zora Neale Hurston to Jake.  He loves when I do funny voices. He especially liked this part:

"We oughter take Syke an' dat stray 'oman uh his'n down in Lake Howell swamp an' lay on de rawhide till they cain't say Lawd a' mussy.' He allus wuz uh ovahbearin' niggah, but since dat white 'oman from up north done teached 'im how to run a automobile, he done got too biggety to live--an' we oughter kill 'im," Old Man Anderson advised."  Read whole story here.

So now Jake knows he likes Hurston.  Whether he would ever read it on his own I don't know, but my experience with Jake and Bub makes me wonder if some people could be persuaded to read more literature if they enjoyed hearing it.  That's another blog post.

I just want people to read.  It is best to expose people to different kinds of literature and writing in a format that they enjoy. 


  1. Reading aloud is such a wonderful thing. I think that I feel in love with reading from being read aloud to by my mother and my teachers. Anthologies are a great idea for reluctant readers too.

  2. I think thats a good point about being scarred from english in high school. I still can't bring myself to read Shakespeare and high school is definitely to blame for that!

    If you are going to make a recommendation its definitely a good idea to know a bit about the person first to make sure you are getting something that might have a greater chance of interesting them

  3. I like your idea of anthologies-I have posted on a few of the short stories of Hurston and one by Langston Hughes-I am now a follower of your blog and look forward to reading your future posts-I have also posted on some of Frank O'Connors work.

  4. Anthologies are a great idea. I must check out the one's you've listed.
    Glad to have found your blog. I like it here :)

  5. Hi LBC. Every once in a while I will get to hear an author read their work and it is always magical.

  6. Becky, I still have a problem with Flannery O'Connor and Dickens because of being forced to read them in school. I know they are good writers, but at this point I am not ready to read them again. Maybe one day.

  7. Hey Che! Anthologies are a good bang for the buck. Sometimes people can't sell them after they use them in a class and they put them in a yard sale or give them to the Goodwill.

  8. The Easy Rawlins series is on my list to read next year - I am really looking forward to it. What a great idea to use audio to nudge along a love of reading!

  9. Walter Mosley would be a great way to introduce someone into our world, as would George Pelecanos

  10. Parrish Lantern you are so right. I haven't read Pelecanos yet but I met him and he was good looking. He will be on my TBR list for 2012. I know his looks have nothing to do with his writing but I just had to mention it.


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