Friday, March 29, 2013

why the f*ck friday (17)

Welcome to WTFF. In which I attempt to answer a single question--normally a thought on a book or a bookish subject--that I've been pondering for the past week. This week it's "why the f*ck are you in a non-bookish relationship?"


I blame David Levithan for all my relationship problems, or lack of relationships to begin with. Specifically: The Lover's Dictionary (my review). In the book he captures the disintegration of an unnamed couples' coupleship*.

Not just a normal couple, but a bookish couple. Most couples are not avid readers, most couples do not fret with mixing their book collections with another persons. Most couples do not quote Shakespeare to another, they quote Honey Boo Boo at one another because It wasn't love at first sight, it was bed at first sight. You have to try the milk before you buy the cow.

The current culture does lean more towards reality TV, sports, and pop music so cheesy you can't help but love it. But for those of us fortunate enough to date a bookish person, isn't it just great? You get to read some of the same books, go to bookstores, and have intense discussions about Margaret Atwood's overuse of artistic license. Fuck, you could even quote Shakespeare to one another in bed. 

Guy: Shall I compare thee to a summer day?
Girl: Don't sweet talk me, we're not doing anal.

OR: 

Girl: One half of me is yours, the other half yours. Mine own, I would say; but if mine, then yours, And so all yours.
Guy: So... anal?

It's unfortunate--and true--that there's a difference between being bookish, literary bookish, and a non-reader. Or even a non-reader reader (someone who reads six books a year and recommends all of them to a serious reader).

There's a lot of ways this can play out. As someone with a literary background, and someone who reads a lot of young adult novels, I don't often sync up with the women I date. We haven't read a lot of similar novels, we don't have similar tastes, but we can introduce one another to these things. 

Dating a non-reader is harder. The TV is always going, there's always noise, there's no quiet nights of books. There's reality TV, there's sports, there are bookstore trips in which the other immediately goes into beta mode, disinterested in everything around them.

These characters don't exist in The Lover's Dictionary. The discussion about mixing books is often one line: "Just put them there." I want to fucking argue about it, damn it. And I am let down that it's never a conversation. 

I can picture each relationship distinctly in my mind, reader with non-reader, bookish with non-reader reader, and how each would dissolve quickly. I'm not one to base an entire coupleship** on books alone, but being a freelance writer, being a reader, being a part time blogger; it's my lifestyle. Attempting to share it with someone else who isn't interested in what I do, what fascinates me, is hard to ignore. It's almost a deal breaker, but not really.

There are no book requirements to date me, you just have to be interesting, but cracking open a novel once in a while does help.

How does this sync up for a majority of couples? What kind of relationships have my fellow bloggers and fellow readers been in? Does reading contribute that much to a relationship? Does your significant other read at all? How does this work?  Does anyone have similar rules? Or similar thoughts? Post them below.

*Not a real word.
**Still not a real word.


28 comments:

  1. Welcome back, old friend.

    This is not exactly what you're asking, but I'm a fiction reader who's married to a non-fiction reader. It's a surprisingly complementary relationship.

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    1. Well hello!

      HEY EVERYONE IT'S THE AUTHOR OF MONSTROUS BEAUTY HAVE YOU READ MONSTROUS BEAUTY YET?

      http://www.amazon.com/dp/0374373663

      Had to do it.

      I could imagine the discussions one would have. Especially if you are a fan of historical fiction, or say, writing something that takes place in Plymouth, Massachusetts. I'm onto you, Elizabeth.

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    2. EF - We are in the same relationship pairing! That must have been why we all got along so well. Too bad we don't live near each other. We could discuss fiction and our husbands non-fiction. HA!

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    3. My husband is like an encyclopedia. When there's a matter of scientific or historical fact that needs clarification, the kids say, "Let's googledad that."

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  2. Okay, so I've really only been in two serious relationships. The first one was with a really good looking guy -- like universally good looking, and he was nice but dumb as a box of rocks. Needless to say, that didn't last too terribly long. I mean, it was fun, but eh, it's not exactly fun to date someone you aren't intellectually compatible with.

    As for now! So, my current life-partner/boyfriend Tony and I have been together for almost 6 years. It was totally meant to be because he's like oh yeah, I picked my confirmation name out after Martin the Warrior from Redwall and I am like OMG OMG I LOVE REDWALL LETS HAVE BABIES OMGGGG. But yeah, we've lived together for pretty much 5 years and 6 months and well, he's always been really cool about books. He has his own book shelf, although I absorbed his Redwall books onto my shelves. But, he reads books from my shelves all the time - including YA stuff. Our tastes are kind of different though. But it is nice to be with someone who likes sports and is physically active, but who is also like yes, let's read before bed because TV makes you hyper.

    And whoa, I just wrote you a book.

    But seriously, good food for thought, I know it's tough to date people who might not be your equally intellectually or share similar interests/hobbies.

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    1. That is such a good little story right there, about the Redwall and everything. I do enjoy being physically active (I hike, I go to the park, I run, I lift weights), but as for watching them? It's a no.

      It's not about being equal intellectually, I can be a real dumb ass sometimes, but it's a good thing to have some shared hobbies. If those hobbies conflict, though, it's not good.

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  3. I'm YA-bookish and he was nonfiction-bookish. Now he's more doctumentaries/b-movies-Netflixish. Still gives us lots to talk about after 22 years.

    And yes, I've read Monstrous Beauty and met the author (in Portland, I'm the one with the mermaid arm tat).

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    1. I have two readers from the Portland area? I'm really going to have to get out there sometime soon.

      I admit a slight addiction to documentaries and B movies.

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    2. haha Adam, meet Eliza who is one of the girls I tweet about get togethers and saving seats for Author Events. See you seriously do need to come visit. Haha this has nothing to do with your post so apologies.

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  4. My boyfriend wasn't much of a reader before we met. He still doesn't read a lot, but when he does he's really enthusiastic about it and usually passes the books onto me which is so endearing. He also thinks it's adorable that I gush about books and have emotional reactions to them.

    I've forbidden him to buy books without checking with me when his birthday approaches and sent him massive wishlists when mine is near.

    You made an interesting point about how being a reader/blogger etc is a lifestyle. I couldn't be with someone who didn't read at all or didn't support my love of reading anymore than I could date someone who was homophobic. It would negatively impact my life.

    I think in any relationship there's give and take when it comes to non common interests, but anything other than acceptance of something that is deeply important to the other would be a big deal breaker. I don't know if I'm articulating my point very well though.

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    1. I was going to use that comparison. The political one. If our politics don't fall into line, we're not going to have a good time.

      Exactly! Say you were reading the TV was going and it kept breaking your attention, because they just needed to watch Real Housewives or whatever... that's a serious conflict for me.

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  5. I have often lamented my fiance's lack of bookishness*. When we go to a bookstore, he immediately turns towards the magazine racks. In the last few years, I have managed to drag him into the literary world with non-fiction offerings (particularly biographies) but he still doesn't understand my need for quiet contemplation or why it is difficult for me to read with the sound of death and mayhem (mostly from Call of Duty) in the background.

    I fantasize about sitting on opposite ends of the couch, each engrossed in our own literary adventures only coming up for air to share a particularly poignant passage. But, alas, I don't think that will ever come to pass.

    I also find it rather difficult to relate to friends who don't read. I recently had a book club fall apart because the members couldn't find time to read. Really? You can't find the time to read one book in 6 WEEKS??? And it is downright impossible to find other adult readers of YA to discuss with. Eventually, I got desperate for bookish discussions and started a book club with my junior high students, which has actually become one of the most rewarding things that I have done in my career.

    *Also not a real word

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    1. Fake words are loved on this blog.

      Ugh. Video games. I can't stand them, and I can't stand sports. Being a bookish guy can be hard.

      I have had a similar experience. The "book club" met in bars. They only ever read one book: something by Chelsea Handler.

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    2. I hate both as well. It took a long time for my fiance to understand that, as a teacher, my entire day is filled with noise. All I want when I get home is quiet, video games do not help.

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  6. One of the huge bases for friendship between my boyfriend and I (we were friends for about 4 years before be began dating) were the things we had in common--music, movies, TV, and of course--books. We bounced recommendations off one another for years, and now that we've known each other for a decade I'm excited about the fact that we STILL do this. We have extremely different interests, with a bit of overlap. I really appreciate that we can both talk about what we read with one another, even the stuff we know the other would NEVER read, and for those that we do crossover on we have particularly interesting discussions (currently Neal Stephenson). I love having a partner who shares some of my interest, but also pushes me to think about things/try things out of my comfort zone--it's a good balance. I have dated non-readers, but those relationships were never quite right.

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    1. It's awesome that you guys still talk about it. I like that you have reading as common ground, but you're still your own people. I like someone to get me out of my comfort zone, but I would like reading to be a common ground.

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  7. Oh--plus combining our book collections when we moved in together wasn't frightening, it was freaking amazing. I now have a vast amount of graphic novels at my disposal!

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    1. Haha. I just started getting into those. I never thought that combining books could be an advantage.

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  8. I'm with a reader but our reading styles do not really cross, but that is okay. I'm just happy that there is reading going on. The largest bookish problem I encounter is that I mostly would rather read than do other things. Like I don't watch a ton of TV or stuff like that. I'd rather read. Lately, it's a lot easier when we're on road trips, though, because we can listen to the same audiobook while I read the book in print. That's a new development that seems to work out for us. It is really tough, though, to have different goals and interests as far as reading/blogging goes.

    It's great to see you back on the blog. I approve!

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  9. Welcome back! I always think more on Fridays when you post.

    Okay this is an interesting question, and I agree that it's more about intellectual compatibility than it is about reading the same types of things. Maybe because readers instead of reality tv watchers are more apt to want to have idea based conversations? You definitely want someone who appreciates your love of reading and writing and blogging and supports that in you, or else you aren't going to get very far. I don't think it's a big deal to have individual/separate quiet personal activities, as long as there is something you like to do together.

    My husband prefers non-fiction idea books, but he doesn't have a whole lot of free time these days, and what little he has, he doesn't spend reading books. Thankfully, he doesn't really do TV either. He knows that reading and blogging are important to me and follows my blog, asks me what I'm reading and will sit down for 20 minutes and listen to me hash out in detail my latest book. I don't subject him to this all the time, but if it is something that I need to get out, he will listen (and seems to enjoy it - maybe he's zoning out, but he looks interested). We'll sit quietly on the couch while he's on the ipad or reading the paper, while I'm reading or blogging, so I guess that's sort of what you're talking about. He loves attending bookish events with me, because they're culturally engaging, though he's never read any of the author's books - including Monstrous Beauty.

    We did read one book aloud early in our marriage. It was To Kill a Mockingbird, and while fun, it was slow and not something we've done again. I'd rather read a book more quickly to myself than aloud. I like Asheley's audiobook comment. We've done Harry Potter that way a few times. HP is one series that we do connect on - that one even has movies we can watch together. So maybe if you find one book/series you can discuss with each other, you'll be good for a while :).

    I don't really mind that I have to fight him for space in my book collection, because that just means that I can have more. HA!

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  10. You're not dead! (We were worried)

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    1. I should've tweeted out every day "I'm still alive" or something.

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    2. That would have been helpful.

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  11. None of my past relationships were with readers. It's probably why they are past relationships. There's only so many times you can tell a guy you would rather a quite night in curled up with a book than to be squeezed into a crowded bar before it starts to unravel.

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  12. Welcome Back!!!

    I am bookish and my husband is a non-reader. He read 1 book last year. (I wouldn't let him see The Hunger Games until he read the book.) He has already finished his 1 book for this year, Catching Fire, and is working on Mocking Jay. He may double his total from last year!!! (Shameful)

    I do find it frustrating when he gives me a hard time for talking to all of my bookish friends on twitter. I wouldn't have to tweet about the books if I had someone at home I could discuss them with. I can also relate to your comment about visiting the bookstore with a non-reader.

    We have other interests in common, but he will always watch tv in the evenings while I read.


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  13. For the record, the first thing that interested me about your blog was the title. I have been waiting my entire life for a guy to hit on me in a bookstore (I've pretty much accepted that it probably won't happen). So maybe if you actually follow through with this you will find a bookish girl who gets it ("it" being that big vague super important entity that defines us as individuals and makes the world go 'round).

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