I’ve been thinking about this particular topic lately. A few internet articles have popped up that has, well, forced me to attack the issue now. While it’s still relevant to about eleven people. Fine.
One article’s from The Guardian: Reading between the lines of your relationship: Do book lovers get a literary leg-up in matters of emotional intelligence, or are the best partners the ones without the library cards? I put the entire subtitle in because I don’t want to explain it, haha. And the other one’s from The Rumpus, and it’s pretty much a reactionary post to The Guardian one–and I love it for its straightforward title: Can You Love a Non-Reader? And then there’s the alternate scenario, an old article by Rachel Donadio from The New York Times called, It’s Not You, It’s Your Books (thanks, Maggie!).
So. With the synoptical (I made up a word, yes) powers vested in me by years of doing book reports for school: How much does your (potential) significant other’s taste in books matter? If it matters at all? Or for a more basic question: should he like reading?
In my case (indulge me): The Boyfriend and I have been together for almost three years. We met in Dumaguete, for a writers’ workshop (I was a fellow for Fiction, he for Poetry). Y’all know what I am–Creative Writing major, Lit minor, book-crazy. The Boyfriend, aside from poem-crafter (woohoo), is a full-time painter, a licensed architect, and can make a shelf from scratch at the same time I race through a good book (is it a man thing?)
The Boyfriend has a lot of books in his apartment. A lot. Art books abound, and children’s books with kick-ass illustrations fall into this category, as well as back issues of art magazines. Architecture-related books too (he’s fond of Frank Lloyd Wright, and Hundertwasser, and some other dude whose name I can’t spell). And there are a handful of poetry books around–he likes Mark Strand, yes, and Billy Collins is a mainstay, some Robert Lowell, some Dylan Thomas, some Robert Frost. I dip into his books, mostly because I like pictures, harhar. However, does he read my kind of books? My Charlotte Brontes and Oscar Wildes, my Lorrie Moores and Raymond Carvers, my Jeffrey Eugenideses and Miranda Julys, my Julia Quinns and Karen Marie Monings? No. He’s not a fiction kind of guy. I’ve tried, for example–we both loved Revolutionary Road (the movie), so I figured, why not let (make) him read the book? He smiled, a little sheepishly. And then he ran, too quickly. Off to the garage, where he tinkered with power tools and whatever it is non-(fiction)reading men do.
Do I wish he read the same books as I did? Sometimes, if only because I get impatient summarizing, contextualizing. But most of the time, well, I don’t mind. Not really. We get along (haha). I like to think we balance each other out, him more visual (his poetry’s a dimension of his art–difficult to explain here, but let’s grab a beer, and we’ll blab), me more, well, wordy. But I can talk to him about the books I read, the same way he can talk to me about Pollock and Schiele and Picasso’s chicks. I can read aloud a passage that struck me as, well, breathtaking, and I know he gets me. Sometimes, he disagrees–and that’s great too. I love our arguments. [Him: “Stop using No at the beginning of every sentence. You argue like a man!” Me: “Well, you whine like a girl!” Harhar.] And one of the best things about this is, our treks to the bookstore are always fun, though we linger in separate sections. Our BookSale hunting’s always great, although whenever I chance upon a great find, I’ll have to emphasize and emphasize what a kick-ass book I got for $35 bucks, haha. [Best thing about a fellow BookSale haunter for a boyfriend: whenever he goes to one and I’m not there, he somehow knows what to surprise me with. He’s come home with Alice Munro, June Spence, and Richard Yates. THAT IS AMAZING, OK?]
I dunno. That’s just me. And him. :] You?