bookish: Books and relationships

A few weeks ago, when I was talking about rereading favourite books, I mentioned that I thought it was very important for The Boy to read and love one of my most beloved books, The Razor’s Edge. I gave it to him a few years ago and, jokingly, said that we couldn’t be together if he didn’t like it. Now, I wasn’t really that serious; by that time we had been together for a couple of years so, clearly, we could make our relationship work but, I felt that if he didn’t at least like it, it would mean something. It would perhaps mean that we are fundamentally different people, which is not a great basis for a relationship. Not that I think you have to agree on everything with someone (that’s rather boring, isn’t it?) but surely, you want to be compatible on some things.

Anyway, he read it and liked it so all was well. However, now I’m thinking that I was somewhat irrational. This was more than the reflex of pushing favourite books on others. Why did I think that The Boy’s taste in books has anything to do with our ability to be happy together? I certainly enjoy reading books from a variety of genres; some books that I like are silly and fun, others are serious or depressing, so what does that say about me? Probably nothing except that I like to read. So I’m not sure why I assumed that a book could be a test of my compatibility with someone. Of course whether it’s a friend or a significant other, it’s nice to discover one more thing that connects us with them and, I know we all enjoy talking about our favourite books. Conversely, a mutual dislike of a book could also be a bonding experience. But other than that, I am not at all convinced that books can be a test of our relationships with others. And yet, irrationally, I still want my friends to love the same books that I do.

So basically, I’d love for you to tell me that I’m not crazy and that you do it too! Do you want the people close to you to have the same feelings towards a book as you? Do you try to get people to read the books you love? What would it mean to you if they didn’t like them?

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10 thoughts on “bookish: Books and relationships

  1. hannahsreading says:

    You are not crazy, if something is special to you (ie your favourite book) you want that to be special to the people you find special…too many specials. Sharing a favourite book is almost like giving someone a part of yourself. Or am I the crazy one now?

  2. Charlie says:

    You know, there’s two ways of thinking about this. One is that you’re right that thinking your boyfriend’s possible dislike of the book isn’t something to worry about. But two is that it’s natural to want to have that shared interest, to want the one you love to enjoy what you do, or at the very least appreciate it. I think the most important thing, though, is simply that each person is open to the idea of giving the other’s interests/hobbies a go. The whole give and take thing. So the very fact your boyfriend read it is really the best part.

    I’ve given my boyfriend a few of my favourite books. He liked some, gave up on others. Of course there’s a part of me that is totally confused as to why he didn’t appreciate (in this case Terry Pratchett) but he gave it a go, and likewise I’ve read his favourite books (though I must admit I’m a bit miffed because I like them a lot and because it’s a series it feels like I’ve done all the “shared” reading!) Now my mum giving up on Pride and Prejudice after giving it only a few pages, that I can’t understand at all.

    • bookworm says:

      Yes, you are so right, it’s all about being open to giving it a go. And when the other’s likes are incomprehensible and seem possibly crazy to us (like how my participating in 24-hour Readathons seems to The Boy for example) we are still able to respect it and not make (too many) jokes about it.

  3. Mabel says:

    For me it isn’t so much wanting them to read mine, as it is wanting to read theirs, if that makes any sense. I feel that I get to share in something they love if I know their favorite works and can read and love them. It’s like we share memories. πŸ™‚

    • Mabel says:

      Oh, I should add that I wouldn’t look at a difference of opinion in books as a deal-breaker at all. Life experience, personality, reading experience, etc — so many facets go into what makes a book work for a reader. Instead, I’d look at a difference of bookish opinion as an opportunity to better understand the person. That’s why I tend to like to read their favorites, as opposed to expecting them to read mine. If their favorite book doesn’t work for me, I get to ask them why they loved it, and that gives me a new perspective on life, and on them. And I can only assume it would help shape me. If they are also curious about my favorite, I of course tell them. But I wouldn’t expect them to love it. I’d be more curious about why they didn’t, if they didn’t, and in sharing why I do love it. πŸ™‚

      • bookworm says:

        Thank you for a wonderfully thought-out comment Mabel! You are right, it’s so interesting to read a loved one’s favourites. It’s a wonderful insight to them and their experiences. Another thing is that, for me, it means I get to read outside my comfort zone, read books in genres that I wouldn’t normally read, which I think is great every once in a while.

  4. Trish says:

    There are very few people in my life who feel the same way about books as I do. Sure I can give a book to my mom or dad per recommendation but they won’t LOVE it like I did. And I take it so personally when they don’t like the book (I’m still not over my dad telling me he didn’t get why I loved Remains of the Day so deeply). Scott isn’t a reader AT ALL so it is difficult for him to understand my passion for books. I think that this is the biggest disconnect–not that we don’t share the passion but that he doesn’t get it. Though I don’t understand why he likes cars so much so I guess we’re even. I do sometimes wish that we had this hobby in common but it isn’t the end of the world. But I do mind the strange looks he gives me when I’ve just finished a book, am sobbing on the couch, hugging the book to my chest. He just shakes his head. πŸ˜‰

    • bookworm says:

      I know what you mean, my impulse is to want to share all our hobbies and interests but I suppose the most important thing is to respect our differences and accept our “weird” loves.
      I’m so with you on the sobbing on the couch thing but, even though The Boy is a reader I don’t think he could relate to that. I blame his Britishness, stiff upper lip and all that. Also, explaining the 24-hour Readathon to him was kind of impossible.

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