io9 has compiled a list of "The Best 'Entry Level' Science Fiction Books to Convert Your Friends." They asked some top writers and editors to share recommendations, and they seem like great ones even for experienced sci-fi fans.
I want to read ALL of them. I MUST read ALL of them.
But first, let me make a personal plug for Ted Chiang's book Stories of Your Life and Others. It's the most amazing collection of short stories. Their brevity makes it all the more easy for us busy folks with minuscule attention spans to enjoy them.