Turning a non-reader into a bookworm – can it be done?! Part I

Long Room Dublin Failte Ireland
The Long Room, Dublin (Picture: 2014 Rob Durston/Failte Ireland)

I have no idea how to turn a non-reader into a bookworm. I have spent the best part of six years trying. Actually, that’s not quite true, I gave up a few years ago. Until recently. Perhaps this, my second recent attempt at persuading a non-reader to read (which I will elaborate on in part II, yes, I know it’s the wrong way round, but what’s the fun of life if you stay in sync all the time) would prove successful.

Heading off to New York with a fully charged Kindle with several books downloaded and ready to read must surely be a prime opportunity to get a non-reader reading?

This year is my partner Des’s 50th year (celebrations due in July in Amsterdam, middle-Des beeraged people behaving badly), thus we have compiled a list of 50 things to do in his 50th year. Or rather I did. Some of them he has welcomed enthusiastically, others he just gives me that look. You know the one. Words are not needed but it translates to ‘not on your life’.

He has already achieved some on the list such as repainting a room and taking a selfie with a famous person. Some are easy such as cook his son and girlfriend a slap up meal (yet to be accomplished), others are more challenging like pay for someone’s shopping in the supermarket (which I think is difficult as people will think you’re a weirdo but Des thinks it’s really easy, but again, yet to be ticked off). There are others I think will be impossible to achieve simply due to time and money such as visiting Scotland and climbing Croagh Patrick in Ireland again. However, he is currently completing one – after 12 years of promising to take his son to New York, he is now delivering!

Perhaps the one he is least likely to achieve is: read a book. I put it on the list because he never reads. Part of the reason is the legacy of a football concussion which has led to eye problems including glaucoma. Laser treatment rectified issues for distance, but close up is a problem and after a day spent with glasses in front of a computer screen, the last thing he wants is to put them under more strain by reading a book.

The Kindle, of course, solves the eye problem, you can make the text as large as you like.

Thus, he asked ahead of his trip, was there a Kindle he could take with him? My son dutifully provided his for use and as it is linked to my account, mainly so I can keep an eye on what they are doing and what they are spending my money on, my books are all accessible.

With a seven-odd hour flight ahead, perhaps he would actually discover the joy of reading.

As my son gave him a lesson last night, including the pin number, ‘just draw a fish’, my son said presenting him with the pad of numbers set out in exactly the same style as that on your phone. Furrowed brows from Des. Rolled eyes from son. ‘See,’ he said tracing his finger from one figure to another in the shape of a fish.

After a few goes, he got it. ‘Are you remembering the fish drawing or the number sequence?’ I asked. ‘Definitely the drawing,’ replied the finance guru who lives life by numbers. Hmmm.

I half listen to them muttering about how to connect to WIFI, the good games and the brain teasers. Then I hear my son pointing out two texts Des had requested – ‘Les Mis’ (which I have never read but I keep on my Kindle just in case I get an intellectual calling but usually I am too tired) and ‘Wuthering Heights’ (my favourite book of all time).

Wuthering Heights
Picture: Penguin Classics

Errr, not to sound demeaning or anything but if you’re going to read a book having not read anything since doing your English O Level 35 years ago, neither Les Mis nor WH is a good idea. They’re too hard and you’ll just give up. I said.

HitchhikersYou need to read Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. It’s funny, easy and, for us, nostalgic. I advised. Still my best ever World Book Day costume (thankfully we don’t have to do that anymore, the bane of every parent’s life), PJs, dressing gown and towel! Or David Walliams. Absolutely, agreed my son, Gangsta Granny is funny.

Des gave us both a withering look and said nothing. Perhaps, I thought to myself, helpfully pointing out his original choice of books may be too challenging might actually galvanise Des into proving me wrong! Oh joy! He’ll be downloading War and Peace for the journey home!

However, I have just received a message on FB messenger (obviously texts are too expensive abroad for our wandering accountant), that he knew one of the flight attendants who upgraded them to business class. Right, so you probably spent seven hours enjoying a few beers and watching a few films with your feet up and plenty of legroom then! Ahh, well, there’s always the flight back!


5 thoughts on “Turning a non-reader into a bookworm – can it be done?! Part I

  1. I’ve had the same struggle with my partner!! I started buying him books based on things I knew he was interested in. For example, he is really into MMA so I bought him books written by UFC fighters and now he is branching out on his own 🙂


      1. Haha you learn something new everyday. Ya my fiancee is a MMA fighter so he watches it all the time. And now he reads about it all the time 🙂


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