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15 Books That Will Transform Non-Readers into Readers Overnight

Being forced to read “the classics” in high school doesn’t always have the effect that teachers and parents hope it will. Many of the books you’ll find on summer reading list use outdated language and require loads of background knowledge. This makes them hard to read and even harder to understand.

By the time a student graduates from high school, it’s hard to blame him for thinking that any book worth reading requires Cliff Notes and a book group to explain what everything really means.

In reality, that just isn’t true! There are tons of great books out there for teenagers and young adults. Books that educate, entertain, and immerse readers. What else could you want?

At Ferguson Tutoring, we might specialize in math, sciences, and college test prep, but we understand how important reading is. That’s why we put together this list of 15 books that will have even the most stubborn reader turning the page!

For Sports Fans


Moneyball, by Michael Lewis (Non-fiction)

This non-fiction narrative tells the story of Billy Beane, the general manager of baseball’s underfunded, perennial loser, the Oakland Athletics. Using a math-only approach to the game, Beane revolutionized the way that coaches, announcers, and even players look at the sport of baseball.

Full of enthralling stories from the big leagues, Moneyball explains why the shift is smart, why defense is overrated, and why stealing bases is downright dumb. It’s a must-read for baseball fans.


The Fight, by Norman Mailer (Non-fiction)

In America, celebrity is as commonplace as table salt, but once in a while a personality rises so high that even other superstars are captivated by the glow.

Muhammad Ali was that kind of celebrity.

The Fight is the story of the world’s most famous athlete’s most famous fight. Detailing more than just the 15 scheduled rounds, Mailer tells a tale of mouth vs. might, going inside the camps and exploring behind the scenes of elite boxing.


Don’t Let the Lipstick Fool You: The Making of a Champion, by Lisa Leslie (Non-fiction)

Lisa Leslie once scored 100 points in the first half of a high school basketball game. She then became one of the most dominant players in the history of the WNBA, one of only a handful of female players to ever dunk a basketball, and a three-time Olympic gold medalist.

In her memoir, Don’t Let the Lipstick Fool You, Leslie talks about how her life and how she manages to become both a total lady and a ferocious competitor.

Perfect for young, female athletes.


For Adventure Fiends

The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins (Fiction)

The Hunger Games is a series for young adults set in a post-rebellion, dystopian future. The title comes from an annual tournament, during which 24 children participate in a multi-day, televised fight to the death.

In addition to the drama and riveting action scenes, Collins forces readers to consider themes of freedom, rebellion, and consequences. This series is entertaining for anyone, but may be particularly enjoyable for young women who struggle to find good books with female protagonists.


Into Thin Air, by Jon Krakauer (Non-fiction)

A non-fiction chronicle that reads like a Hollywood thriller, Into Thin Air carefully details the storm and sequence of events leading to one of Mount Everest’s most deadly seasons. Packed with history about Everest and mountaineering in general, this is one for adrenaline junkies.


Divergent, by Veronica Roth (Fiction)

In the young adult genre, dystopian futures are a bit overdone, but Divergent still manages to stand out from the crowd.

Separated and governed by factions, the citizens of this walled-off city fight off fear, uncertainty, and each other. Starring a strong female protagonist, Divergent (and the other novels in its trilogy) are good choices for people who like twists and turns in their stories.


Jurassic Park, by Michael Crichton (Fiction)

The 1993 movie by the same name captivated viewers all over the world, but – as is usually the case – the book packs more of a punch. With increased success in cloning and genetic modification, re-exploring the world of Jurassic Park is bound to be not only entertaining, but philosophical.


Harry Potter series, by J. K. Rowling (Fiction)

There’s a reason that the Harry Potter series made J.K. Rowling the world’s first billionaire author: the novels are phenomenal.

Rowling’s fully-fleshed world is so real that non-readers all over the world have been known to digest 700+ page volumes in a single sitting. Whether you’ve seen the movies or not, whether you’re a fan of fantasy or not, the Harry Potter books are so good and so culturally important, they’re worth a read.


Watchmen, by Alan Moore (Fiction)

One of the world’s most popular graphic novels, Watchmen will redefine reading for any kid who’s been bored to death with Shakespeare and Dickens. Complete with the drama, tragedy, symbolism, and moral dilemmas of so many of “the classics,” Watchmen reveals how complicated and confusing the world can really be.


For Readers Looking for Laughs

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?, by Mindy Kaling (Non-fiction)

Fans of the American TV show “The Office” will immediately recognize Mindy Kaling as the love struck and temperamental Kelly Kapoor.

In real life, it turns author is only a little boy-crazy, but that doesn’t keep her from spilling over 200 pages of hilarious observations on love, growing up chubby, and working in Hollywood. Truly a book that will make you laugh out loud, Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? is worth the read.


Crazy Rich Asians, by Kevin Kwan (Fiction)

This funny novel opens the door into a world you’d never even considered: the life of Singapore’s ultra-rich.

Follow Nick Young, heir-apparent to almost unimaginable wealth, as he brings his American girlfriend to celebrate a wedding in his home country. With money comes a unique set of challenges and relationships. In Crazy Rich Asians, Kevin Kwan shows them all.


A Walk in The Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail, by Bill Bryson (Non-fiction)

Bill Bryson’s adventure on America’s most famous footpath wasn’t quite what he expected. He was tired, his feet hurt, and the only friend he could convince to come was too fat to help with anything.

Infused with humor, A Walk in The Woods lays out the observations most people overlook during their romantic retellings of the Appalachian Trail. The ground hurts, the daily drudgery is mind-numbing, and seeing bears is likely as not to fill your pants. This one’s perfect for outdoorsmen and those who mock them.


For Drama Lovers

The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, by Junot Diaz (Fiction)

Full of realistic street language and obscenity, Junot Diaz’s The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao is a form of literature that most teenagers don’t know exists.

Parents might balk at the profanity, the Diaz is a master at exploring the life of the misfit and laying it out in painfully understandable fashion.


The Things They Carried, by Tim O’Brien (Fiction)

Now this one may be on your high school’s reading list, but don’t let that scare you away. Exploiting the difference between “happening-truth” and “story-truth,” O’Brien’s The Things They Carried is a series of vignettes that come together to paint a real life, in-the-muck portrayal of the Vietnam War.

If you’re a history buff, a fan of war stories, or a human being, this powerful and easy read is for you.


Looking for Alaska, by John Green (Fiction)

John Green’s books have legions of fans, and for good reason. Looking for Alaska recounts Miles “Pudge” Halter’s first year of boarding school, where he meets new friends, new bullies, and the beautiful, enigmatic Alaska Young.

Miles, Alaska, and their friends push boundaries, yearn for adulthood, and fumble through adolescence with the honesty of real life teenagers. Until it happens.


What do YOU like to read?

For young people, reading tends to be thought of as only an academic pursuit. If more students are going to learn to enjoy reading outside of school, they’re going to need good recommendations!

What books let you discover how much fun reading could be? Share your favorite titles in the comments below!