Book for new readers: 10 recommendations to start your reading journey

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Reading is not only a hobby but also an art and life skill that can be developed and honed over time. It is often seen as an art due to its creative and expressive nature. There is always that right book for new readers, that can instil the values and underline why it is important to understand the value and benefits of reading.

Reading books allows human minds to interpret stories uniquely, create a different universe and appreciate diverse literary expressions. Moreover, reading is essential for acquiring knowledge, expanding horizons, and improving language and communication skills, benefiting personal and professional growth.

Options on the starting book for new readers are plenty, but the idea is to start with one at a time. If you are just starting your reading journey, here are some books that you can start. 

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

Photo: LOC’s Public Domain Archive

This book is a timeless masterpiece–a powerful read–resonating with readers of all ages and an ideal book for new readers. To Kill a Mockingbird delves deep into the themes of racial injustice and the loss of innocence. It transports new and old readers to the 1930s, a period marked by segregation in the American South. 

Through the perspective of Scout Finch, the protagonist, the novel boldly confronts prejudice, morality, and compassion. Alongside her brother Jem, he embarks on a transformative journey guided by their father who falsely defends an accused black man in a rape trial. 

Reading through their journey, one learns profound lessons about empathy and the relentless battle against injustice. The narrative captivates with its unforgettable characters and thought-provoking content, prompting readers to reflect on the significance of understanding and advocating for what is right. Lee addresses crucial topics that remain relevant in our society today.

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

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If you are more romantic type then Jane Austen’s beloved classic, Pride and Prejudice is the book for new readers, offering a delightful and enlightening journey into Austen’s timeless storytelling. The book follows the lives and romantic pursuits of the Bennet sisters, with Elizabeth Bennet as the protagonist (the prejudice) and her romantic journey with Mr Darcy (the pride). 

When Elizabeth first encounters the wealthy and eligible bachelor, Mr Darcy, she harbours prejudice against him due to his perceived arrogance. Yet, as she gets to know him better, she discovers his true character: kind, intelligent, and honourable. As their love story unfolds, it highlights the importance of self-reflection, open-mindedness, and the complexities of human relationships.

Set in the regency era, the book explores societal norms and expectations that heavily influence the middle-class Bennet sisters’ pursuit of suitable marriages. It further explores and gives subtle commentary on social class, marriage, and the consequences of prejudices, prideful characters, and characters with a sharp wit–all that remain captivating today.

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

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F. Scott Fitzgerald’s masterful novel, The Great Gatsby, is set in the Jazz Age, a period of prosperity and social change, and explores the fleeting nature of the ‘American Dream’. The story is told through the eyes of Nick Carraway and it plunges deep into the corrupting influence of wealth, and the superficiality that lies beneath society’s glamorous facade. 

In pursuit of his own American Dream, the narrator befriends his enigmatic millionaire neighbour, Jay Gatsby. He always hosts extravagant parties but yearns for something more and his relentless pursuit of his lost love, Daisy Buchanan, consumes him entirely.

With Fitzgerald’s exquisite prose, the novel captures the excesses and disillusionment of the era, exploring themes of love, illusion, and the search for meaning. It serves as a lyrical and nuanced critique of the relentless pursuit of wealth and status, inviting readers to reflect on the human condition and the emptiness of materialism. This is a recommended read academically too, so it is a book for new readers to start with as well.

Moby-Dick by Herman Melville

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Another great book for new readers is Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick. The novel is a complex and challenging masterpiece that narrates the themes of obsession, fate, and humanity’s struggle against nature. The plot of the story follows Captain Ahab’s relentless quest for revenge against the great white whale, Moby Dick.

Melville’s richly detailed prose combines adventure, philosophy, and poetic descriptions of the sea, inviting new and old readers to explore the depths of human nature and the consequences of unchecked ambition. Immersed in the thrilling world of whaling, readers can ponder existential questions and delve into the intricacies of the human psyche.

While Moby-Dick presents a challenge, it offers a deeply rewarding literary experience in every read, making it the perfect book for new readers. This profound and introspective novel may not appeal to everyone, but its status as a literary masterpiece ensures its lasting impact on those who venture into its pages.

One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

book-for-new-readers-_One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
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If you are more into fantasy then Gabriel García Márquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude is a mesmerising magical yet realistic novel that paints a picture of different generations of the Buendía family in the fictional town of Macondo. 

With intricate storytelling and vivid imagery, readers can get into the depths of human existence, and explore the interconnectedness of generations over time. Márquez blends fantasy, history, love, and tragedy to create a captivating tale intertwined with the historical tapestry of Latin America. Through themes of time, memory, and the cyclical nature of life, the novel offers a profound reflection on the human experience, intertwining reality and myth in a unique narrative.

It is an ideal book for new readers eager to explore the world of magical realism and discover the complexities of the human condition. Its memorable characters, including the resilient matriarch Úrsula Buendía and the enigmatic Melquíades, offer a rich reading experience. 

The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

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Inspiring for first-time readers, the novel offers valuable insights into the complexities of growing up, the pursuit of authenticity, and the yearning for connection. With its thought-provoking themes and relatable protagonist, The Catcher in the Rye is a superb choice for new readers exploring the realm of coming-of-age literature.

J.D. Salinger’s iconic novel, The Catcher in the Rye, follows Holden Caulfield, an introspective and disillusioned teenager navigating the complexities of adolescence. Exploring themes of alienation, identity, and the loss of innocence, the novel captures the challenges and anxieties of youth through Holden’s distinctive voice. 

So, young readers, especially if they are starting their reading journey, can consider this book. Holden’s relatable character and his journey of self-discovery resonate with readers of all ages, making it a good choice when it comes to books for new readers. 

To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf

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To the Lighthouse is writer Virginia Woolf’s modernist novel that incorporates stories that span a decade and centres around the Ramsay family and their visitors on the Isle of Skye. Through an introspective narrative, Woolf explores themes of perception, memory, and gender roles, over time which is why this is a recommended book for new readers.

Written in a stream-of-consciousness style, the novel grants direct access to the character’s thoughts and emotions, offering a peek into the complexities of relationships and the subtleties of communication.

To the Lighthouse is a beautifully crafted and introspective masterpiece that offers readers a profound exploration of the human psyche and the intricacies of the human experience. It is a compelling choice, a great book for new readers seeking a literary work that challenges traditional storytelling conventions.

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

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If you love the quote the universe conspires for you if you want something, then you will love this book as well. Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist is an enchanting fable following Santiago, a young shepherd on a quest to fulfil his destiny. As he learns to pursue his dreams and listen to his heart, readers are inspired to reflect on their aspirations, finding purpose and passion in life.

With an accessible writing style, uplifting message, and universal themes of self-fulfilment and personal growth, The Alchemist is an ideal choice for new readers. Coelho’s simple yet profound storytelling captivates readers, instilling hope and encouraging belief in oneself and the power of dreams. The novel imparts valuable lessons on resilience, self-discovery, and the transformative nature of belief, making it a captivating and enlightening book for new readers.

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

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If you want a different narrative then Markus Zusak’s The Book Thief is a poignant historical novel narrated by Death itself that will intrigue you. Set in Nazi Germany, it revolves around Liesel Meminger, a young girl who seeks solace in books amidst the horrors of war.

Liesel’s journey unveils her resilience and resourcefulness as she learns to read and steals books for the same. Alongside her foster family, the Hubermanns, and her neighbour Rudy Steiner, she discovers the power of words, the significance of friendship, and the indomitable capacity for kindness and compassion even in the bleakest of times.

The Book Thief serves as a profound testament to the transformative strength of literature, transcending circumstances and igniting hope. With its compelling storytelling, memorable characters, and profound lessons in empathy, courage, and the enduring power of stories, this is an immersive and enlightening experience making it a good book for new readers.

The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien

book-for-new-readers-_The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
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Last but not least, this J.R.R. Tolkien’s epic fantasy trilogy is a must-read for all fantasy lovers. The Lord of the Rings series follows Frodo Baggins and a diverse group of companions on their quest to destroy the One Ring and save Middle-earth from the dark lord Sauron.

With Tolkien’s masterful world-building, rich mythology, and memorable characters, this beloved classic book explores themes of heroism, friendship, sacrifice, and the eternal battle between good and evil. Through immersive storytelling, it transports all readers to a vividly imagined realm, testing courage and perseverance at every turn. 

This is a good book for new readers because it invites newcomers to embark on an unforgettable adventure and provides a profound exploration of the human spirit. It has transcended generations, captivating readers of all ages with its timeless and fictional but intriguing story. 


Originally published on July 21, 2023.

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