James Patterson and Bestsellers to Read If You Don’t Like to Read

Reading can be a deep-dive experience filled with subtlety and dense information, allusions and wordplay to unpack and historical details to ponder—or it can be a briskly entertaining piece of fluff that gets your pulse racing and your hands busy turning pages as fast as possible. In the hands of a very skilled writer, in fact, they can be both; but just because some books are massive achievements of intellectual prowess that require energy and attention to read doesn’t mean that reading, by itself, is automatically a superior activity to anything else. Some books don’t stir you intellectually any more than a half-hour sitcom on television, and some books, it could be argued, actively make you dumber when you read them.

Still, reading is often used as a yardstick of intelligence and sophistication; some folks will still proudly tell you they don’t own a television, but their library card gets a workout. If that card is getting a workout borrowing quaint and curious volumes of forgotten lore then perhaps they have a point, but if it’s getting a workout borrowing trashy books written at a fourth-grade level, they might be better off with that TV. Reading remains enough of a measure of intellect that people are constantly conducting hand-wringing surveys about how many people read books; Pew Research recently conducted a widely-shared poll that showed about 27% of all Americans haven’t read a book in the past year. You can look at the poll three ways: On the one hand, it means that more than a quarter of the population doesn’t read much, with all the implications for our cultural and intellectual future that holds; on the other hand, it means that nearly three-fourths of the country do, in fact, read at least one book a year.

The third option comes from none other than James Patterson, and that is to realize that the folks who don’t even read one book a year are quite possibly the only untapped market for your infinite number of books published every year, and go after that market. Patterson has announced BookShots, short, novella-length books written in a fast, simple manner (as opposed, we assume, to the convoluted and overly literary style of Patterson’s other books) aimed squarely at folks who think today’s fast-paced thrillers still have too many words. In short, Patterson is aiming to capture the book sales market of non-readers. Which is either brilliant or quixotic, time will tell; the first few, including Cross Kill (featuring his enduringly popular character Alex Cross), are already out and on the bestseller lists.

So, if you or someone you love is one of those 27% who hasn’t read a book recently, don’t despair. BookShots might be the cure for what ails you—but they may not be necessary. There are already plenty of bestselling novels out there that are fast, fun reads requiring little more than a few hours of your time but which deliver plenty of excitement and entertainment. Here then is a helpful list of bestselling novels that are ideal reads for people who don’t read.

First of all, why look any further than Patterson himself? His writing is already briskly paced, cinematic in nature, and sparse in terms of structural or stylistic complexity. In short, his books are already plenty fast reads—but that doesn’t mean they’re dumb or not worth your time. Patterson’s literary empire is based on his consistent delivery of thrilling, twisty plots populated by characters you quickly identify with. His Women’s Murder Club books (15th Affair is currently on the bestseller lists, and his BookShot The Trial is a Murder Club story as well) are a perfect place to start if you love a good procedural.

If you’re a sci fi fan and loved the Star Wars films—especially the latest, The Force Awakens, there’s no better way to kick-start your book reading engines than by starting off with something familiar. Reading a novelization of a hit film means you can slip easily into the universe and won’t have to worry over memorizing characters and names like in some bloated fantasy novels, but there’s enough expanded information and deeper diving to make the experience rewarding. Before you know it, you’re no longer part of the 27% who haven't read a book.

Instead of a novel, why not go for a collection of short stories? Less commitment, fast reads, but everything is tied together with a through-line of characters, setting, and other features. Basically, reading a bunch of connected short stories is similar to watching a TV show, and adding in the clever mysteries that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle created will delight you every time, even if you can’t quite figure out how Holmes does it.

Green’s a household name by now, and Paper Towns is perhaps the Greeniest of Green’s books, a perfect balance of adolescent angst, infatuation, and adventure that’s ideal for any young person (or young-at-heart person) who doesn’t much enjoy reading. Green’s prose is clean and propulsive, his characters are appealing, and the story is driven by a low-stakes mystery that grooves along effortlessly, making this a bestseller you can read fast and yet savor for a long time afterwards.

Lee’s 2009 New York Times Bestselling debut is ideal for people who like their sci fi more in the vein of ’s twisty take on our fragile connection to what we think of as the “real” world. Travis Chase is closer to a typical action thriller hero than a sci fi protagonist, and the whole story rolls along like an action film that just happens to have some trippy and incredible science fiction elements at its core. If you’re not much of a reader and haven’t cracked a book in years, Lee’s expertly executed opening will hook you and before you know it you’ll be a reader again.

Reading's Fun, After All

Books and reading are not magical routes to a more intellectual life, but reading is fun and a great way to spend your time, so reading more in general is a good thing. These five books offer easy entries into the world of reading more—pick one and give it a try! And if that fails, there are always Patterson’s BookShots.
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Somers, Jeffrey. "James Patterson and Bestsellers to Read If You Don’t Like to Read." ThoughtCo, Aug. 25, 2016, thoughtco.com/if-you-dont-like-to-read-4057065. Somers, Jeffrey. (2016, August 25). James Patterson and Bestsellers to Read If You Don’t Like to Read. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/if-you-dont-like-to-read-4057065 Somers, Jeffrey. "James Patterson and Bestsellers to Read If You Don’t Like to Read." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/if-you-dont-like-to-read-4057065 (accessed November 21, 2017).