Chances are, if you’re reading this, you’re a regular reader who loves books. You’ve discovered the joy of stories, and are enjoying all the benefits reading brings, from improved mental health and mental agility, to enhanced empathy. 

Alongside such big picture paybacks, there’s also the fundamental fact — and immediate pleasure — of reading having the power to make you roar with laughter, hide under the covers, sob your heart out, or experience unadulterated joy. What’s not to like about being entertained, unplugged, and away with the fairies (in the best possible way)?

All that considered, research on adults’ reading habits compiled by the Reading Agency, a charity devoted to “helping people to tackle life's big challenges through the proven power of reading”, makes for pretty sobering reading. The headline news is that 31% of adults in England don’t read at all in their spare time. That rises to a whopping 46% of people aged 16-24. What’s more, 16% of adults in England and Northern Ireland score at the lowest level of literacy proficiency. 

Maybe it feels like there’s just not enough hours in the day, or maybe the non-reader in question never got into reading in the first place. Whatever the reason, the trick to (re) discovering the magic of reading is to find what floats your boat, much like adopting healthy eating habits — it goes without saying that you’re not going to stick to eating five a day if it feels too worthy, or if the food just isn’t appetising, or satisfying.

With that in mind, one great way to discover the joy of reading, or to rediscover your reading mojo (especially if you’re pushed for time) is through finding fiction that’s in-your-face gripping, accessible and on the short side — criteria met by all the books in our Quick Reads category. Here you’ll find pithy, accessible books by some of the best and most popular contemporary writers, from feel-good fiction by Jenny Colgan, to all-out action from Andy McNab, and a whole lot more besides.

Read on to explore dozens of gripping quick reads that are perfectly-pitched to spark non-reading adults into discovering the magic of getting lost in a good book, along with a few poetry* anthologies that also come recommended as ways into reading.

*Fear not if you’re still haunted by having to study poetry at school — it’s definitely not always impenetrable!