Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Literary Love

Last week Rachel Donadio wrote about literary dealbreakers - when someone either misses a literary reference or makes one that is so misguided as to make clear that there is no potential for a relationship with that person. I thought it was a fascinating article, and so I embarked on a bit of introspection to see if it might apply to me and my relationships. It turns out it does, at least partially.

I do think that not reading is a character flaw. But in contrast to many of those Ms. Donadio interviewed in her article, in most cases I don't really care what people read. My only prejudice is that I have some trepidation about developing friendships with people who read stuff like Proust on the beach. In my opinion it means they don't know how to relax.

What do you think of literary dealbreakers?

13 comments:

Aimless Writer said...

I don't care what others read. If we happen to read the same book and get into a nice chat about it--koolio. If not, we'll talk about something else.
What I do find foolish is when a person buys the hardcover so they can carry it around to impress people. When I say I like a paperback because they are easier to carry them around some folks have told me they like hardcover so when they carry it around people will notice.
Excuse me? Drag around something bulky to impress? Why would someone do that?
Don't get me wrong, I will buy a hardback if its an author I love and can't wait to read, but paperbacks travel better.
No deal breakers here. lol

Julia said...

I don't have dealbreakers so much as dealmakers--there are things that I love so much and so dearly that when I find someone else who loves them, too, I feel an instant spirit of kinship.

Wodehouse, certainly. And Brian O'Nolan, in both his Flann O'Brien and Myles na gCopaleen incarnations.

Dharma Kelleher said...

I can't remember the last time my spouse read a novel, any novel. She and I are very different.

But you know what? I'd stack my marriage of 10 blissful years against any relationship, gay or straight.

Don't judge a book by its cover. (Hey, that's catchy!)

Peace out, namaste and write on!
Dharma
www.dharmashanti.com

Bobbie said...

Deal breaker? Shelves filled only for the sake of aesthetics. My family has owned a used and new bookstore for years. Close to 20 years ago, a customer came in who wanted only red and burgundy books, preferably leather, but imitation would do as well. They were to go in his new study and the titles didn't matter because he wasn't planning to read them anyway.

Deal maker? The willingness to try any genre at least once.

Julie Weathers said...

If I wanted to seek a relationship with a man, I would worry about someone who started out trying to carry on a conversation about classics or literary books. My reading tastes are quite varied, but I'm a little concerned about people who feel the need to impress me. Finding a man who reads at all is refreshing enough. The only dealbreaker might be an overly active interest in books like 120 Days of Sodom or dressage horses. Someone trying to impress me by mentioning they've read my magazine articles and then saying they don't really understand furlongs would turn me off. That has happened and it made me kind of sour.

That being said, I'm sure I wouldn't impress a lot of "intelligent" men. I read what I enjoy, not what I should to be considered well-read. I don't need to prove or disprove my intelligence with my reading list.

What would pique my interest to find on a man's bookshelves? History books. Especially U.S. history, ancient or medieval. Mysteries, fantasies, thrillers/suspense, westerns, mythology, woodcraft books, minerals, fossils, dinosaurs, military, geology, the bible, herbs, gardening, archaeology, dictionaries, horses, antiques, leather working, encyclopedias, humor.

As for hardcover books. I buy hardcover as much as I can because I love books and I want them around for a long time. I seldom get rid of books. If I think a friend would like to own something I've read, I buy it for them. If they just want to read it, I don't mind loaning it, but I tend to collect books.

"My only prejudice is that I have some trepidation about developing friendships with people who read stuff like Proust on the beach. In my opinion it means they don't know how to relax."

Agreed.

Precie said...

I'm with Julia. I don't have literary dealbreakers. But when I find out that friends or acquaintances adore some of the same books I do, I feel a stronger connection with them than before.

Claudia said...

That thing about the beach and Proust and not being able to relax is hilarious! Good one.

When I was a kid I used to drag around copies of Kurt Vonnegut books to demonstrate to other kids one of the many ways in which I was so much cooler than they. So, you know: kid stuff.

The thing is that one day I started reading those books I was carrying around, so maybe that wasn't such a bad thing.
Vonnegut was a champion of misguided youth -- felt that no one should be made to feel foolish for the "big ideas" they had when they were young. I sure chose the right guy to drag around -- all that built-in reassurance he provided.

Just_Me said...

Not reading at all is a deal-breaker. What the other person reads is a dealmaker...

When I meet someone new one of my first questions is what they read. When a person tells me they don't read at all for fun the conversations tend to end very quickly. I'm a writer. I spend a good percentage of my day writing, editing, or planning for writing. I read voraciouslly and I like talking about books. If I meet someone who doesn't read there's a good chance we won't have much else in common.

The one exception to that is people who work in my "real life" field if biology and ecology. I can prattle on about science jargon for hours. But even in those situations there is reading, it's just peer-reviewed journal articles rather than literary fiction.

Ryan Field said...

Just as long as they read, is fine with me. Not reading at all would be the dealbreaker.

But now I'm going to laugh the next time I see someone reading Proust on the beach.

Josephine Damian said...

This probably falls under the category of TMI but I lost my virginity to a guy (an English major, of course) who "suggested" I stop reading trashy novels and start reading literary novels. I did. My taste in reading material was a big issue for him.

Over the years, I've developed the tendency to divide people into those who read and those who don't, and then into those who read what I do and those who read other stuff - I'm with Precie having the same reading taste gives me a stronger connection. My ex certainly felt that way!

Brian Jay Jones said...

As a former comic shoppe manager, I was on the receiving end of rolled eyes long enough to be incredibly tolerant of almost anyone's reading preferences -- unless they prefer Marvel to DC, of course.

Seriously, no dealbreakers here. My own tastes are all over the board and erratic enough that I would feel like a hypocritical sh!t for having a dealbreaker. (Now, making FUN of someone else's tastes are quite another matter...)

kelley said...

seriously. it's never a deal-breaker.

reading is my everything. but when I met my husband he didn't read. ever. turns out, when he was in first grade he had problems reading. his mom stepped in and while she made him literate, she squashed any literary love he might have held. being forced to read the Hardy Boys and write reports on it can do that, I guess.

anyway, after we got married and had our son, I sort of forced him to do the nightly bedtime story. he complained, but I said do it, you missed out on some incredible books as a kid. it's never too late. now our son is 9, and they've read more books together than I can count. and hubby has fallen in love with reading. it's always about the why's, not the what's, of the books people read. :)

Anonymous said...

Unless Proust helps them nap.