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The other day a friend was telling me how she was sad that she never got into the reading habit. Her new husband was a reader and he was always talking about what he was reading with a passion that she couldn’t get on board with no matter how much she tried. His books were too dense and obscure and his sense of humour too political for it to make sense to her. So she called me up and asked me about it since, “You’re always giving excuses about books instead of having fun with us.” (in her own words).

The question got me thinking, how does one get into reading?

I was into reading from the time I could read! I read my nursery rhymes myself, mispronouncing everything and then I read my short stories and Noddy books. Most of my reading was done by me because my family taught me while they read to me. So I took on the project and decided to find some good books that she will like and here are some things that I thought I’d share with you.

1. Bestseller Lists

This is a great place to start. Not amazon lists mind you but actual proper bestseller lists like NY times or the Times. These kinds of lists feature the best sold books ever year or month. It’s a great way to discover what others are reading and starting there.

TIP : If you find a book that’s suddenly appeared check the publication date of the book. If it’s just released what you’re looking at is the result of careful marketing and PR. Wait a couple of weeks/months to check. If it still bestselling, buy it. If not you know it was all hype and no substance.

2. Goodreads Lists

Make a Goodreads accounts and pick genres that interest you. Since you’re new to reading and don’t know what you like apart from what you studied in English while at school, add your favourite movies that were made from books. Example : Harry Potter or The Room. There’s a good chance that you will like these genres in books as well (Eg: I love Swedish films and I love Swedish books, Love crime thrillers in both categories).

Click on these books and see what “Users who enjoyed this also liked” category on the right and you’ll have a whole list to choose from. While you’re there, add me as well.

3. Graphic Novels / Illustrated books

So you read comics when you were younger and didn’t pick up anything else after that. You’re afraid that reading the same stuff will make you look immature (there’s no such thing btw, anyone can read anything) and want more “grown up” material to get into. I’d suggest graphic novels with similar subjects that you enjoyed back then. For example if you liked illustrated fairy tales may I suggest Fables. It is a god send to us fairy tale obsessed and keeps the theme adult so you can connect with them on a personal level.

4. Flash Fiction

A perfect place to start if you’ve been putting off reading because of the intimidating size of novels is flash fiction. Not more than a page or two, flash fiction doesn’t demand much from the reader by way of time. You just invest ten to twenty minutes reading it. If you like these I’d suggest graduating to short stories and then novellas.

The books I picked for my friend were an Anita Nair and a Lars Kepler. She can easily connect with Nair’s writing style, particularly with those books set in Kerala and she adores terrifying thrillers so Lars Kepler was the perfect choice. (I wanted to suggest Gone Girl but she’s just married…..so…..I don’t want her husband coming after me with an axe.)

What did you think of my list? Do you have any tips of your own to help someone pick their first books?