[This response may be specific to my culture/situation, so take it for what it's worth.]
As a student in the health sciences, I find it helpful to explain my passion in terms of 'needing to know'. The human body--and it's response to disease--is so complex, with so many interactions that we don't fully understand, I find myself continually in a position of wonderment. "The more I learn, the less I know."
I am passionate about becoming the best healthcare professsional I can be, and the individuals who are important to me seem to be able to understand this. I know that I cannot expect them to totally understand the fascination of research, or the passion that drives me to devote all available time to learning, reading, writing, etc. Both they and I have come to accept this. I do not push my world onto them, nor do they demand that I be able to explain.
Perhaps the really crucial part of this is taking time to be really present with the non-academics in your life. Let them know that you care for them and accept their non-academic lifestyle as well. Understanding and acceptance is often a two-way street--be willing to give as well as get.
This really only answers your second question. Perhaps others may be more able to respond to the first query about stories/articles to help your loved ones understand the fascination of research.