What kind of books do homeless people read?

I imagine that it varies drastically.
Not all homeless are low IQ and not all of them are uneducated; infact, I’ve met a fair number that were quite intelligent over the years, though I never thought to ask them what they might be reading.

As you all know, I’m still in the first month of this experience and I still have a fair amount of reserves and strength, both mentally and physically. So my reading habits may change drastically as tome progresses.
But, for now..what I have in my little camper, in paper format, from the library is…
Chemistry, The Central Science (this is not from the library, it’s one of my textbooks)
How Good Do We Have to Be by Harold Kushner – very appropriate reading actually
Rashi by Elie Wiesel
Aristotle, A Very Short Introduction by Jonathan Barnes
Buddhism, A Very Short Introduction by Damien Keown
(I love the “Very Short Introduction” series. Check them out, a very broad range of topics, rather like the “For Dummies” series for the literate.)
And lastly, on a whim as I was leaving the school library tonight… The graphic novel of Raymond E Feists Magician Apprentice.

So there ya go.
Maybe next time you see a homeless person who seems to have some wits about them, ask them if they’d like to pick out a book at the local used book shop. They might think you’re nuts but you might also find great appreciation.

Leave a comment


  1. “…as tome progresses.”

    Yeah, that made me giggle.

  2. iPad auto correct! Auto correct I tell you!
    But maybe the unasked for correction was appropriate. : )

  3. Anonymous

     /  October 12, 2011

    A friend of mine spent some time as the volunteer librarian at the local homeless drop-in centre. She said that the people she met there read a lot of fiction, especially mysteries, science fiction and westerns, but particularly wanted anything in paperback (for portability). Oddly enough, she has the habit of tearing out the pages she’s read in any novel so it gets lighter as she goes. Unfortunately, this makes it useless for passing on to the next reader. Don’t do that! And to anyone reading this who ISN’T homeless, do think of contributing your “has been read” pile of paperbacks to YOUR local homeless shelter.

    Best wishes,

  4. Egads! Tearing pages out of books? Give me a moment to get the twitching under control!

    What your friend said doesn’t surprise me. It takes a lot of energy to think and being homeless usually means nutritionally inadequate food, lots of moving/standing around, and dealing with the elements. Not much energy left for deep thinking.

    Still.. you never know the backgrounds of the homeless.

    I agree, donate to the shelters or even leave them at the bus stops or known hang-outs with a note saying “take me” or “free book” or something. It will get picked up.

  5. Anonymous

     /  October 12, 2011

    Do you read on you iPad? Jerryprism

  6. Hey Jerry, yes, I do read books on my iPad.


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