As both an author and a guy who runs a used books store, I talk about books a lot. No, I mean a lot. I’m always trying to get people to read. A majority of non-readers will say they don’t bother with books because they “don’t have the attention span.” However, I’m starting to discover that’s not really the case. A vast quantity of folks recall the books they were forced to read back in school, and those memories aren’t fond. Well guess what, I freakin’ hated Moby Dick, too.
I always start by asking them what types of movies they like. After they list a few titles, I usually proceed to shock them by revealing that half the titles they’ve just listed were originally books. I’ve found guys are especially surprised to learn that Fight Club, The Road, Dexter
and Rambo: First Blood
were all books. “Who’s Ian Fleming?” **sigh**
So, screw the elitists and their high-brow literature, here are the 10 books I’ve found I most frequently recommend to non-readers to try out. While these may not be my favorite books, or even my favorite authors, they can be wonderfully escapist fun for a ton of people. In no real order…
#1. CLIVE CUSSLER, Atlantis Found – The most famous of the “bromantic” writers, Cussler fills his tales with two buddies who run around blowing crap up, finding treasure, and rescuing hot scientist chicks. You occasionally learn something about science, politics or weapons, usually while the main protagonists are cracking jokes during intense gunfire. In this particular tale, they discover an ancient civilization, kill a bunch of new generation Nazis living in Argentina and save the planet. Again. One of the books in this series, Sahara, was made into a movie.
#2. ANNE RICE, The Witching Hour
– Everybody talks about her Vampires, but this massive novel has everything necessary for adult paranormal romance; a vicious ghost, a torrid love affair, psychic powers, and a mega-rich family with enough depraved violence in its family tree to make Jerry Springer’s head explode. Two sequels take the story into even more bizarre territory, and Rice’s last two Vampire novels tied back to the ancient New Orleans family. You can’t even shelf the Cullens near the Mayfairs. If you’re waiting for the next Twilight
movie or season of True Blood,
#3. TIM DORSEY, Florida Roadkill
– Sometimes you just need a story that’s so over-the-top that it would terrify most people to compete with today’s basic cable. This would be the book. Serge and Coleman running amok across the state, in a tale that I can only describe as “Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas
acted out by 21st century sociopaths.” Definitely not for everyone, it takes a certain type of wack-job to enjoy this book. However, everyone I’ve chosen to lend it to has loved it. That probably says something about me and my friends. Try to imagine if The Hangover
or Clerks II
had gratuitous violence.
#4. DOUGLAS PRESTON & LINCOLN CHILD, Relic
– Yep, there was a movie that came out based on this book over a decade ago, but they cut out the main freakin’ character. Agent Pendergast and his stories always seem to end up back at the NY Natural History Museum and tend to lean toward the “almost” supernatural. These books read like movies, intelligent but action-packed, full of memorable characters usually coming close to unspeakably horrible deaths. Somewhere between The X-Files
and Criminal Minds,
if they showed it on The Discovery Channel.
#5. CLIVE BARKER, The Books Of Blood
– My absolute love of Barker’s work is well known. Sadly, so few outside the genre realize how many tales from the collection have been made into movies, and how many more are brilliant. Once I start listing Midnight Meat Train, Candyman, Nightbreed, Lord Of Illusions, Dread
and the title piece, folks’ eyes go wide. Sure, I’m listing the official volumes 1-3 along with the unofficial 4-6 here, but so what? He’s terrified two generations now, and I want to see him hand out more nightmares. 75% of the ideas you’ve seen in movies from AfterDark’s 8 Films To Die For owe allegiance to this guy.
#6. JANET EVANOVICH, One For The Money
– We’re working backwards this time, since this movie adaptation doesn’t come out until this summer. However, character Stephanie Plum has a huge legion of fans and I actually understand why. After my Mom and
Dad both giggled through a few titles, I read this LOL Mystery and found it to be the perfect book to recommend when someone isn’t sure what they’re in the mood for. Just imagine any random romantic comedy, but make it funnier then toss in a few guns and a murder.
#7. MICHAEL CRICHTON, Prey
– Much like Barker, a lot of people don’t realize how many films they’ve seen are based on book by this late master of the research novel. While I could mention Jurassic Park, Congo, Sphere, Disclosure, Rising Sun, Timeline,
or Eaters Of The Dead/The 13th Warrior,
I think his tale of self-aware nonatech horror should be checked out. While it can get a little science-heavy at times, his presentation of AI nanobots eating people and replacing them with evil clones is just too awesome to be missed. It’s a zombie film told with very sneaky Terminators, but way more freaky than how that sounded.
#8. CHARLES STROSS, The Atrocity Archives
– Like Dorsey’s book, this take a certain type of weirdo to appreciate. However, this one needs a reader who’s looking for the tale of a sarcastic computer tech working for a British government BlackOps group that routinely battles monsters that bare a suspicious resemblance to stuff that crawled out of H.P. Lovecraft’s imagination. Oh, did I mention the story is told in a manner reminiscent of Douglas Adam’s Hitch Hiker’s Guide To The Galaxy?
LOVE this book. Um, there’s really nothing else like this in the universe, except for perhaps Christopher Farnsworth’s awesome novels.
#9. JEFFERY DEAVER, The Vanished Man
– While the film The Bone Collector
came and went years ago, the ongoing detective adventures of Lincoln Rhymes and Amelia Sachs continued. Crammed with so many twists your head will snap off, it’s the NYPD and their quadriplegic consultant facing off against a criminal who’s a trained escapist artist and illusionist. Hard for CSI guys to work when their evidence burst into flames before turning into a dove. This is simply a great mystery novel (the fifth in the series) that should appeal to anyone who likes TV cop dramas.
#10. CHRISTOPHER MOORE, A Dirty Job
– Known for a plethora of zany tales, some slightly offensive to those with more delicate sensibilities, this particular tale is perhaps his safest. Don’t, however, think that makes it any less insanely fun. Seriously, when a neurotic beta-male usually beset by hypochondria get tapped to be an Aspect of The Grin Reaper when his wife dies suddenly after giving birth, you may not be sure what to expect. But between losing The Great Big Book O’ Death, scary Sewer Harpies, feeding pet Hellhounds assorted kitchen appliances and a baby daughter who accidentally kills things when she says “kitty,” you find yourself laughing hysterically. Very Shaun Of The Dead.
That’s it, now you non-readers have no excuse. Find a title and jump in. Don’t worry, I won’t ask for book reports.