A lot of my friends back home have pretty safe reading lists, mostly Jodi Piccoult or Janet Evanovich or whoever else has been recommended on Oprah recently, so I try and help them stray from that path with some books that'll challenge their typical views. I don't have one single book that I push onto people because I know that not everyone likes the same kind of book but I have a couple that I rotate fairly often amongst my friends.
1. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams
This one is usually pretty easy because people have seen the film and enjoyed it. That familiar ground always helps, even if it then changes quite drastically from what was in the film. It's such a fun book, with such great characters, dialogue and absurdity that I am yet to meet anyone who didn't enjoy it. Plus it has books that follows it, so I'm almost guaranteed to get this person reading 4 more fantastic titles.
2. Misery- Stephen King
Some how this seems to be a Stephen King title my friends haven't heard of so it becomes the one I often suggest. I have to be careful with this one because I suggested it to one friend and she didn't like it, saying it was too slow. However she'd never read horror and only ever watched the jump out of your seat horrors like I know what you did last summer so I completely understand what she meant. It isn't your typical mainstream horror, it's a slow build with a focus on the characters, but that is what is so great about it. Number one fan Anne Wilkes only hints at her insanity for so long and then BAM!
3. Anything by Irvine Welsh
Not enough people know Mr Welsh, they might have seen Trainspotting and known it came from a book, but that's about as far as it goes. So I've taken it on myself to remedy this problem. If someone asks me for a book recommendation I'll suggest one of his. If they seem like the kind of person who can handle a little work with their reading I'll suggest Trainspotting, or if they don't seem like they'd be able to decipher the Scottish brogue I'll suggest something like The Bedroom Secrets of the Master Chefs. Sometimes I hit the mark and create a new fan for Welsh, sometimes they are not impressed and never read another of his books.