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?