I recently asked Twitter for suggestions for introductory books on linguistics I could recommend to people who have no background in it and don’t want a full-on university text. Here’s what I got. If you have more suggestions, do add them in the comments!
Aitchison, Jean. Words in the Mind: An Introduction to the Mental Lexicon.
Crystal, David. What Is Linguistics?
Everett, Daniel. Language: The Cultural Tool.
Jackendoff, Ray. Patterns in the Mind: Language and Human Nature.
Matthews, Peter H. Linguistics: A Very Short Introduction.
Pinker, Steven. The Language Instinct and The Stuff of Thought.
Winkler, Elizabeth Grace. Understanding Language.
Vatikiotis-Bateson, Eric; Déchaine, Rose-Marie; and Burton, Strang. Linguistics for Dummies.
Yule, George. The Study of Language.
An online course was also recommended: Miracles of Human Language: An Introduction to Linguistics. Which reminded me that you can access MIT courseware online for free too (see Introduction to Linguistics, for example), but that is full-on university.