As I was taking a break from writing my prospectus, I came across an interesting post at Stuff White People Like wherein they highlight an article from the New York Times on romantic compatibility and reading. I find this very amusing since I love to read, but (at least to my knowledge) am not a intellectual snob about it.
It’s actually hard for me to be a snob about reading and be in the field of Early American Literature. If you’ve ever taken a class where they made you read any piece of American fiction written before 1850 you know that it is horrible an acquired taste. I once recommended that a girlfriend read Charles Brockden Brown’s Wieland and wondered why she didn’t break up with me after. I love it, but most people would rather read the romantics anything else.
That being said, my wife and I have two identical bookshelves in our home office (though I have more book covered shelves along the ceiling as well). When I moved my stuff in and set these two up, I couldn’t have been more pleasantly surprised at how different they were.
- My wife’s consists of: Dickens, non-fiction, vegan books, and Psychology works
- Mine has: Early American works and critique, pulp and sci-fi, and a few comics.
We couldn’t be more different, yet we both slide up to the shelves and take a gander once in a while.
When we were dating, we actually exchanged books. I didn’t think of it as a test of compatibility at the time, but maybe it was. I read Eric Schlosser’s Fast Food Nation, which helped me move into a healthier lifestyle and she read Neil Gaiman’s American Gods, which she seemed to really enjoy.
We still trade, but school has zapped our reading time. I gave her World War Z a while back and it sets on her shelf looking strangely at home among the non-fiction and she keeps putting baby books on my desk in hopes that I won’t tie our kids up like my dad did me (kidnapper anyone?).
All this to say that, like Ariel Levy from the article, I ended up with someone who doesn’t have the same reading taste or even frame of mind that I have, yet I love her intelligence (she’s a hell of a lot smarter than I am) and I would never kick her out of bed for saying that only Hawthorne she ever read was the high school brain killer, The Scarlet Letter.
So, don’t judge a book by its cover. You might not be compatible with a girl, just because she knows that Conan was an author first, a barbarian second, and only became a talk show host in recent history.