How the world has always worked, in an allegorical nutshell.
It depends what the person like : rather a novel or an essay, something easy to read or hard to grasp but ultimately satisfying, something to read on the beach or in a quiet library, something soothing or terrifying...
Since this person does not read, arguably you don't have the answer, but at least you should provide a list of broad interests. And also likely the recommendation won't be for an 8 or a 50 years old.
It is a bit like asking, what is the single piece of technology you should know. Well, it depends..
Not to discourage you but books don’t make you a reader because they (their content) are largely relative (to the readers interest) . Let your curiosity lead the way and set a small achievable goal like ready 20 mins a day but hold yourself accountable to reading regularly
It's a mind blowing book that's best read if you're a 30+ y/o individual.
I read Insomnia, some short stories and about 100 pages of Needful Things. Needful things is on the very short list of about 5 fictional books I disliked so much that that I gave up on them.
He's a great guy that gives a lot back to the community in Maine (where I grew up), but I don't care for his writing.
His book on writing, however, is pretty great.
Fair point, well made. I too don't like everything he's written, however I do think his short stories have a wide appeal.
I was getting down on myself today for how little fiction I have read in the past 6 months, or maybe more, and King is typically a decent jump start for me. I'm currently about 120 pages in on "The Executioner's Song" -N Mailer but it hasn't captivated my imagination... I find the dialogue trite. The only other book I had with me today was "The Hunt for Red October" -T. Clancy. I've read it already, but its been like 10 years, so started in on that again even though I reread way too many books.
BTW all comments were plused.
That's why I was hoping to hear many answers from this community of like-minded people as well as (hopefully) some justification for their answers.
As for my own recommendation, Phillip K. Dick has a ton of great short story compilations if you're into Science Fiction. Technically he's not the most gifted writer, but he was good enough and his ideas were very creative.
To give an example, he wrote the stories that inspired Total Recall, Blade Runner, Imposter, A Scanner Darkly, Paycheck, The Minority Report, and many others.
I tried it in my initial years of reading, some 13 years ago. I gave it up after some 90 pages. Maybe the current, disciplined me, should give it a retry.
As for the OP's question, I would suggest a book like Sapiens, by Yuval Harari. It's written in uncomplicated language, a broad topic, engagingly written. FWIW, I gave out at least seven copies of it as a present to friends (who are not serious readers). Most of them really appreciated it.
But... I think I read it only once about 10 years ago and I can remember the first paragraphs about the coronel and the ice.
If you are into storytelling, there are some great Little books from Garcia Marquez script workshop.
I never travel without my diary. One should always have something sensational to read in the train. - Oscar Wilde
I had some success with Terry Prattchet's Discworld? Especially Moist von Lipwig series or The Watch.
Like, if you get hooked, suddenly you are reading the rest of the series and you kinda have to become a regular reader :D
There should be no embarrassment for adult readers to read (or re-read) his children's stories. They are a masterclass in writing - full of inventive and imaginative prose. He knows how to write fluidly without excess verbiage. These are qualities we'd all love to have in our writing.
All of this makes his stories very easy to read, but satisfying and enjoyable too.
I had an urban planning book of that sort at one time.
On the other hand my father almost never reads fiction unless it is depressing and/or about a war he didn’t attend. If this sounds like you, maybe Tolstoy’s The Death of Ivan Ilyich?