To date or not to date?

March 31st, 2008 • Kate

Via Gawker, I read an interesting article in the Sunday New York Times about those books which can turn you off a prospective partner.

Anyone who cares about books has at some point confronted the Pushkin problem: when a missed — or misguided — literary reference makes it chillingly clear that a romance is going nowhere fast. At least since Dante’s Paolo and Francesca fell in love over tales of Lancelot, literary taste has been a good shorthand for gauging compatibility. These days, thanks to social networking sites like Facebook and MySpace, listing your favorite books and authors is a crucial, if risky, part of self-branding. When it comes to online dating, even casual references can turn into deal breakers. Sussing out a date’s taste in books is “actually a pretty good way — as a sort of first pass — of getting a sense of someone.”

Now, of course the Times has to make it all highbrow and literary, but I think there’s something we can take out of this, even if we don’t already have strong feelings about Ayn Rand, Samuel Beckett, and Nabokov.
Namely, a question — how do your prospective partners feel about all that kidlit you’ve got hanging around? How do you have a serious relationship with the shadows of Harry Potter, Meg Cabot, or Scott Westerfeld lurking about?
I’ve managed, in Rexroth Implausible, to find someone who enjoys children’s books as much as I, and even if he hadn’t read a book I raved about, was cool enough to pick up Tithe when I recommended it and fall in love (with me). Plus, we have little Trixie Implausible to read to, so there’s copies of all the Pigeon books, and Bossy Bear, and many other great children’s books all around the house.
On the flipside, what are YOUR date-book dealbreakers?

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9 Responses to “To date or not to date?”

  1. Joelle Anthony Says:

    When I first met my husband to be, he hadn't read a kids book since he was a kid. I began to carefully select the MG and YA novels that I thought would speak to him the most, and now he will pretty much read anything I put before him, as long as I don't give him too much (he's a musician and while he loves to read, he'd much rather play guitar which I love to hear!). Over the years, he's only turned his nose up at a few that I've sent his way and I have a pretty good handle on what he likes now. His favorites are SILK UMBRELLAS, STARGIRL, LOVE STARGIRL, AL CAPONE DOES MY SHIRTS, LOOKING FOR ALASKA, and anything by John Rowe Townsend. In his to read pile are: B FOR BUSTER and BROKEN MOON, both of which I feel confident he will love. He truly won my heart though when he started at the beginning of the Betsy-Tacy series because they are my favorite books of all time…he only got about two or three books into them, but he tried and that's what counts!

  2. Trish Says:

    My husband has never been a big reader, but I think I'd have had second thoughts about him when we met if he'd have been a Patterson nut.

  3. brimfire Says:

    I'm not sure anything would totally turn me off from dating a guy, but I knew my husband was a keeper when he took me to Half Priced Books on our first date. 🙂 I never really thought of it before, but I think if he didn't read much at all, we'd never have ended up together.

  4. Caryn Says:

    I think my husband was just so pleased to find someone who also liked to read that he wasn't about to be picky about the books I selected. I'm not sure I would have stayed with him had he been derisive about my reading choices. As a result, we have many happy memories of reading together. Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus, which I was required to read for a children's lit class, was a particular favorite.
    As for date deal-breakers, one was when the guy I was seeing was angry that the people in his town had actually passed a levy to expand the library. He thought that if those people wanted to read, then they should just buy the books themselves or be contented with the library already contained. Another guy once informed me that he really didn't think that school was all that important after about ninth grade. It was on our one and only date. And, yes, he knew that I planned to become a high school teacher.

  5. Julia Says:

    Hmmm…this reminds me of Marianne Dashwood's proclamations in Sense & Sensibility – of how she could never love a man who didn't share her same tastes in music & literature.
    Date-book dealbreakers… can't think of any off-hand – although, if someone didn't read at all – well, that would definitely mean no dates – ever!

  6. Kate Says:

    Entertainment Weekly's Popwatch blog has their own take on this article — I like the decidedly more lowbrow examples they come up with!

  7. Jean Says:

    I didn't have a dealbreaker per se, but my husband is the one who got me back into reading after a few years of not reading and not being able to find anything that I was interested in. Now it seems like the stack of to-be-read is always threatening to fall over. (My reading cup overfloweth!) The fact that he got me into reading as well as convincing me to adopt that cranky but loving cat at the Humane Society–even though it meant us moving into a different apartment–are some of the many, many reasons I no longer have to deal with roommates or dating. Thank goodness. 🙂

  8. Joelle Says:

    Do you read the blog, Stuff White People Like? He discussed this very topic today. Not sure if the link will work or not…
    http://stuffwhitepeoplelike.wordpress.com/2008/04

  9. girljordyn Says:

    I don't think I could be with a guy who wasn't okay with my huge reading addiction or who thought that novel-reading was a waste of time and novels basically fluff. It would bug me too much.