When I was growing up, I read a lot of trash: comic books and Edgar Rice Burroughs, for instance. I read them because I liked them, not because I had a list of Great Books I should be reading, and because of that, I grew up loving to read.
And then when we had kids, I didn’t try to dictate what they should read. There was a stage when they were into Pokemon and magic cards: I didn’t judge, I tried to learn the games, and we got them stories and magazines about the subjects. Then there was the Harry Potter phase — I read the first couple of them, found them tedious and repetitive, but man, the kids ate them up, and I was happy to see it.
So beware the attitude that you should tell people what they should read: what you’re doing isn’t ennobling their mind, it’s teaching them that reading is a chore and an obligation, and that it isn’t fun at all. Scicurious has a good post on the idea of the obligatory book list and how it typically neglects what is engaging for what is high-minded.
Case in point: Darwin’s Origin of Species. It actually is a good, well-written book…for a 19th century audience. Personally, I quite like a good long sentence that goes on for the length of a paragraph, giving detailed discursions into a couple of topics along the way, using words that you just don’t hear in conversation any more. But you’re not a bad person if that isn’t your cup of tea, and really, the pigeon chapters are a hard slog. I don’t recommend it for first year college students because most of them will not enjoy the experience, and my job is to get them enthusiastic enough about science to study it for years.
My philosophy is always to encourage a passion — if you are devoted enough to start devouring books on any topic, eventually you’ll find enjoyable and educational stuff on your own. But the key step is to foster pleasure in reading anything.