Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Books and the Significant Other

I really really want to write a review for Room by Emma Donaghue, but I haven't quite finished yet.  I can't wait to share about it because it is probably the best book I've read so far this year.  And it was just long listed for the Man Booker Prize (see the rest of the list here).  So keep your fingers crossed that I get in lots of reading time tonight.

Since I can't review Room yet, I thought I'd see if I can't prompt some discussion.  A topic that comes up fairly frequently on my book message boards is whether or not your significant other reads.  For a long time I swore up and down that I could not possibly marry a man who didn't love books.  And then God laughed and introduced me to Luke, who I pretty much immediately fell head over heels for.  The thing is...Luke doesn't really like to read.  And on the rare occasion that he does read, he doesn't read anything like what I like to read.

I just remember being so sure in college that I could never be compatible with someone who doesn't love the written word the way I do.  But I think I've come to realize since I met Luke that what's really important is not that he loves books, but that he loves the fact that I love books.  I hear people say that their husbands complain that they read so much, but Luke has always respected and even appreciated my need for reading time.  He knows that before I go to bed I need an hour or two to relax and read and he's never infringed on that or even asked me to turn the light off (it helps that the man could sleep through the Second Coming). 

He has also not only accepted my maniacal collection of books (we're now numbering in the thousands), but encourages it.  He picks up books for me and surprises me with book shopping trips all the time.  And after my book purchasing expeditions he's always sweet about sitting and listening to the details of each book I bought, even if he's not at all interested.  I'm not trying to bash anyone else's significant other, but I've always appreciated the fact that while my love for reading isn't something we share, it's something that he accepts and even celebrates as a part of who I am.  You won't catch me having to hide my new purchases in the closet or sneak them into the house when he's not home - he's happy to just stack them on the floor until he can get me a new bookcase.  I realize that at this point I'm just bragging so I'll stop.

The question I really want to ask is this:

If you're in a long term relationship, how does your significant other feel about your relationship with books?

If you're single, would you date someone who doesn't have the same passion for books that you have?


  1. My husband was not allowed to watch TV until he was about 20, so he read voraciously! Now, I can't con him into reading a book. But still he is so well read that I am the one who often feels like the non-reader. He, too, doesn't mind the many trips to the bookstore, although because we both work at a library - I have plenty available right here!
    Also, I have finished Room but have not gotten to the review yet - I agree with you that it was amazing and I was not surprised that it was on the long list - hope it makes it to the short list!

  2. When I first met my husband, he was not a reader. He would browse the occasional newspaper, but he was overall disinterested in books. Since I too am an avid reader before bed, he decided to try it. Almost 5 years later, now I am the one saying "let's turn out the light!"
    To answer your question, it would not have been a deal breaker, but I'm glad he is Book Hooked too!

  3. Oh my, that's so sweet! You've got a winner, there. I'm single, but I think I'd date someone who wasn't into books (though if you'd asked me that question 2 years ago, I'd have said no way!), just so long as they understood that reading and reviewing is something I'm prone to doing /very/ often. :-)

  4. My fiance knows how much I love to read and he loves it about me. definitely do not let it interfere with our relationship. I have gotten him to read a little bit more. He actually read the Twilight series...

    By the way I LOVE the blog design.

  5. Outside of Harry Potter and the occasional Chick Lit, my significant other barely reads at all. She's been on the same Ted Kennedy biography for about four months now. But it's not a big deal - I don't mind that she doesn't read 'cause I have plenty of friends who do, so they're my "creative outlet" for discussing books. And she's cool with giving me my reading time - she actually likes to brag to her friends about my reading (and my blog). And my collection of books is cool with her too - I told her that when we moved in together, one of my prerequisites was a room for my books, which we now have. We've sort of flirted with the idea of reading Gone With the Wind together later this year, which would be a huge step! ;)

    Great topic for discussion! (And I realize the dude-reader with the female non-reader is a little unusual, um, isn't it?)

  6. Greg - it is an unusual position, so I'm especially glad that you posted.

    Luke will ocassionally attempt a read-along with me, but so far our most successful has been the Maus graphic novels by Spiegelman.

  7. I think my husband wishes I wouldn't read so much. Like you, I enjoy reading before bed because it helps my mind to stop spinning with everything I have to do the next day or whatever else I'm thinking about, but he would prefer if I went to sleep at the same time he did.

    Sometimes things like that or him saying "you don't need that" make me feel guilty about reading. I've always loved reading and I'm glad I started reading for pleasure I won't be stopping anytime soon.

  8. My husband only reads in the bathroom. I'm fine with that. More bookshelf space for me ;)

    He does love that I am nerdy about something and that my hobby is something cheap! He helped me set up my shelves and humors me when I get on book-talking-tangets.

    While part of me wishes he was a reader, I can't really ask for anything more!

  9. My fiancé was a huge reader when I met him. I had pretty well stopped reading through university.
    Since joining the Nest Book Club my reading has exploded and Frenchie has told me he doesn't know me. All this reading is so weird for him to see. At first he accepted it, now we have a joke I can't go to the book store unattended.
    He accepts that I love reading and we now both enjoy reading together.

  10. Well - my boy is not a reader. He loves to read the news online, but that is as far as he goes. I don't think he minds my reading ways - but he definitely loves to make fun!!

    I never thought of it as a deal breaker - we are all into different things.

    I think he is only acting annoyed when I get the book packages during the week. He just likes to know which ones came for free!!

    I have the amazing opportunity to have my mom - a super reader near me, so I take her on all my book adventures.

  11. My husband loves books just as much as I do. Between us we have probably close to 1000 books. He is a computer guy and only reads books about computer stuff. I try to get him to read some books that I like, but mostly he won't. He does encourage my reading. He even surprised me with a book he knew I wanted when I got accepted to grad school.

  12. I laugh at the people who say they couldn't possibly marry/date someone who doesn't read. I also think those people tend to be too picky if that is what they have to worry about!

  13. My husband is not a reader. He will read the occasional auto/racing magazine but that's it. BUT, because of his love of racing, I got him to read "The Art of Racing in the Rain." He actually read it & enjoyed it. :)

  14. My husband and I are both avid readers! The only difference is subject matter! I am BIG fan of children's literature and anything dealing with WW2 or the Salem Witch Trial era. I love historical fiction, fantasy, and poetry. I also read a lot of gardening, art, and education related non-fiction. His reading material consists of non-fictional philosophy, religion, music, and a handful of favorite authors including Yann Martel and Cormic McCarthy. But that doesn't matter! Because we both read our children are readers and that's what really matters!

  15. My boyfriend is a reader, just not really a novel reader. He reads all sorts of news outlets, sports blogs, etc but books are a different story. He's not opposed to picking them up but he's been on the same book for at least 4 months now. Other than complaining about the amount of books we have around the apt (mostly complaints about storing and having to move them) he has no problem with my reading habits. This is just one more of the way he and I are opposites.