As a high school teacher, I have complete control over my small classroom library. Among the hand-me-downs, library leftovers and nobody-teaches-me-anymore books are carefully placed titles for reluctant readers. These are the books students who never read come back to me and say, “That was the best book I’ve ever read!”
These are the books I buy over and over again because they never come back.
#2 Amazonia by James Rollins
Why this book grabs you: The book cover is a rain forest with the face of wrinkled person viewed through a window. When you open the book, the face becomes part of a larger image of a shrunken head being held by the hair. A central part of the plot, the ancient art of head shrinking is not for the faint of heart.
The book grabs you with both hands–specifically, both arms of a man who went into the rain forest with only one arm and reemerges with both. How did the arm regenerate? Where did the ability to originate? The book takes you deep into the jungle, exploring different cultures as the line between hunter and prey constantly shifts.
Why it has literary merit: Harnessing his expertise as a former veterinarian, Rollins starts every chapter with the name of a plant or animal that is important to the plot. He renders a tropical rain forest with beautiful, yet economic and accessible prose. Most readers will never visit any of the locations in the novel, and even if they do, they would barely have the grasp that Rollins does on the ecosystem and climate. You learn on this journey and become inspired to travel.
Why it never returns to classroom shelves: It’s like reading Indiana Jones. In fact, it’s better because you actually learn a few things. Part horror, part adventure, the plot moves like a freight train and even students who don’t read come back grinning, waving it around for everyone to see. “She shrinks heads!”
Do you know of a book that is perfect to pass on to a reluctant reader? Drop us a line and let us know why someone who hates reading would love it.
Categories: Book Reviews