Monday, March 31, 2008

Loving Books

Steve Malley pointed me to this thought-provoking New York Times article on the importance of shared reading tastes in relationships.

When books are a big part of your life, it’s nice to have someone who shares your love of reading. I once had a partner whose idea of relaxing in the evening was to collapse in front of the TV, and he liked his TV viewing to be a shared experience. When I disappeared into a book, he took it as a personal rejection. Needless to say, that relationship did not last.

Since Steve and I met in a writers group, a love of reading is obviously something we share, and books are a big part of our lives. Our reading tastes do not exactly dovetail, but they do overlap. We both love James Lee Burke and Martin Cruz Smith and John D. McDonald. But Steve doesn’t have much taste for historical fiction, so he’s never tried many of my favorites, such as Dorothy Dunnett or Ellis Peters. And of course he doesn’t read women’s fiction, whether it’s Alice Hoffman or Ann Rivers Siddons, although he is a good friend, so he reads the books published by his female writer friends. He actually read all seven of my historical romances before he asked me out. What a hero!

Because he listens to books on tape while he drives or works on the house (his current project is screening in our newly rebuilt gallery), he gets through far more fiction than I do. Frequently he’ll listen to books I consider, ahem, commercial garbage. But at least he recognizes it as commercial garbage. Would I still love him if he didn’t? Yes. Would I have as much respect for his literary opinions? Obviously not!

I have friends who read literary books I consider hopelessly pretentious, and I have friends who enjoyed The Da Vinci Code. There are even important people in my life who do not read fiction at all. One of my daughters loves novels, the other hates them. A big reader of nonfiction, she’s always passing me books on everything from stringtheory to STIFFS. We have a lot of things in common, but fiction isn’t one them. And that’s okay too.

Because in the end, books are just one facet of life, and my reading tastes are just one facet of me.

13 comments:

Steve Malley said...

That article struck me as a bit like 'Sex in the City', where the girls reject men for the oddest little reasons: wrong watch, bad haircut, wrong book on the nightstand.

Nice to know so many of us still accomodate each other's differences!

Lana Gramlich said...

Ain't it the truth...

Shauna Roberts said...

That article didn't talk about friends. Friendship is another relationship where it's nice to share a love of reading.

Charles Gramlich said...

The friends I enjoy talking with most are the ones who can talk about books, not necessarily the same ones I've read, but about books and good writing in general.

Steve Malley said...

Y'know, I often get great stuff from people who read different genres to me. I never thought about that before...

cs harris said...

I had the same reaction to some of the people quoted in that article, Steve--so quick to judge. And Shauna and Charles, you're so right about books adding to friendships--and friends adding to one's reading pleasure.

canada mystery author said...

Hi,
I too agree with Shauna and steve thoughts.... :)

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