Monday, 31 March 2008

Does your partner share your love of books?

It's late so this will be quick, but I just discovered this marvelous post over at Biblioaddict
about partners and books and relationships, and so my question is: does your partner share your love of books? Did your partner have to, for you to be with them? I'm curious if it is important to have a partner who loves books also, because we all love books so much.

Biblioaddict's blog raises some interesting points. I have a confession to make: I horrified all my friends - who all read - when I married a man who rarely reads anything beyond his footie magazine FourFourTwo (which is the best of all soccer magazines, well-written, smart, and fun besides). Well, how could I, book-a-holic, who can't go anywhere without a book, who spends all her money on books, and whose idea of horror is to go into a house where there are no books at all - how could I marry someone who doesn't read? Easy. My first love is my books, and my husband had to accept that I will always read and always buy them! I ended a relationship long ago because my then fiance made a comment about me buying a book I loved for my mother's birthday (well, it was one of many things, but helped tip the scales to leaving.) He didn't understand that books are my life. Toby does. So, when I arrived in England with some clothes and 4 boxes of books mailed over by ship, and he didn't bat an eyelash, I thought, h-m-m, I do have someone worth keeping. And though he jokes about giving some books away, he is quite happy to see me happy reading, and he's delighted for me when I come home dancing over my book finds. He's even bought me some "airport books" (hee) by John Grisham when he went to England a few years ago for a funeral, because he was thinking of me and couldn't remember what books I had (since I like to read just about anything, bookslut that I am....). Last year he did better when he came home with *Nick Hornby*'s A Long Way Down, whom he accepts I love because *Nick* and I both love Arsenal (and Toby loves Chelsea Football Club, and that is another whole story!!)

There are other things than books in love and marriage that are important, for me at least. So I can agree with the publisher in Biblioaddict's blog who said it didn't matter if her spouse read, because she could go to her book group etc. This is what I do, with my friends and family, and now you, dear book bloggers!! Because I do love talking and sharing about books. In the end, so long as I can read to my heart's content, then it wasn't important that my husband read too. My love affair with books is deeply personal, and I knew it was more important for me that my love for books be accepted as part of any relationship I had.


Nymeth said...

I agree with you that more important than being with someone who also reads is being with someone who understands how books can be so important to us.

I'm very grateful that my boyfriend reads (although not as much as I do), but what I really wouldn't be able to stand was if he were scornful or dismissive of my love of books. I don't think I could truly feel close to someone who didn't understand or didn't care to understand this obsession of mine.

Fortunately he does understand, and he doesn't mind that I constantly try to make him read all my favourite books. More often than not, he ends up enjoying them a lot as well :)

Bybee said...

My husband and I don't have the same taste, but at least he likes to read. I couldn't be married to someone who was like the people in my family. My mom liked my reading when I was small because it was a great child management tool -- it kept me quiet and out of her hair and she always knew what I was up to -- but at I got older, she often berated me for being boring and/or wasting time.

Jeane said...

Mine reads books seldom, but consumes vast amounts of other written media- articles from magazines, newspapers and online. He doesn't really understand why I enjoy fiction, but we talk alot about our various readings. He doesn't sympathize with my joy over books, but then I have trouble getting excited about football or politics, so we're even. Our common interests lie elsewhere.

Rhinoa said...

My husband is a big book reader so it's hard to say if it would affect our relationship if he wasn't! He reads about the same amount as I do (except this year I have gone a little reading crazy), but are tastes are a little different. We have some authors and styles that we overlap on and we are happy to read recommendations from each other, but he is more into random and sci-fi novels and I love my fantasy and fairy tales.

Knowing the types of books we both like it makes gifts much easier (I just bought him three books for his birthday yesterday along with some other bits and pieces). I even queued up for a coupe of hours to get him a signed Terry Pratchett book for Christmas last year with Nymeth. I love that we can share an interest and it's comforting to sit on the sofa in the evening both reading different books.

Eva said...

I'm the on over at Biblioaddict who doesn't think reading is a very important aspect of my future spouse, so I agree with everything you say here. :)

Emily Barton said...

My partner definitely shares my love of books, but I don't think that's something that would have been the least bit important, as long he'd been a man who didn't question my love of books or how much money I spend on them. After all, he couldn't care less about blogging (even my blog), but he gives me the time and space to devote to it (while he spends hours watching and reading about sports that don't interest me in the least). I think the key thing is respect for each others' interests, and having a few things you both love to share together. For us, one of those things happens to be reading and discussing books. For another couple, it might be windsurfing or painting or something.

Susan said...

Thank you all for answering!

Nymeth: If my husband read fiction at all, I'd be trying to convince him to read my favourites too! He reads only non-fiction, and even that is only football (soccer) - but I can say that I have gotten him to read more books about soccer than he had before in his life! It helps that there are good books on the subject too, and written by players that he admired. He just reads one book year.
I love how your boyfriend is willing to try your favourites. Then he knows what you like, and you better, too :-)

bybee:my mother used to tell me (as a young teenager) to stop reading and go out and have some adventures! to get a life! ironically, she reads as much as I do, if not more now that she has retired. I'm sorry your mother felt reading made you boring! that is an awful thing to say, especially as we know it's the opposite - reading makes a person interesting (at least it can!) I really find though, that if someone reads, it gives me something more to talk about, whereas if they don't, the relationship is harder. so it's really lovely that you and your husband both read.

jeane - my husband collects newspapers! I joke with him that if I hadn't come along, he would been one of those old men who died in a house filled with newspaper! He loves to read media, and being online, so we will read football (soccer) articles together. I think it's interesting that even if you don't read the same thing, you can still talk to each other about what you are reading.

rhinoa - Yours sounds like a lovely relationship! I like the mental picture of you two sitting on the couch, both reading! And I agree with the books - gift-giving becomes easier (for all the people I know who read!) - and i love your standing in line for Terry Pratchett. I'm sure if *Nick* or *Neil Gaiman* were to come do a signing in Ottawa my husband would secretly stand in line for me too. He always asks for my lists for birthdays etc knowing there will be books on it....just a question of how many!! :-)

Eva - yes, I saw you over on Biblioaddict and i loved your answer!!! Since I'm living proof that a husband doesn't have to read , I think we're right! Except Nymeth makes the every good point (that I think I made also in a roundabout way on the blog) that having a spouse that supports my reading - accepts it - is crucial to any relationship of mine surviving.

Emily - as always, you hit the nail on the head! Respect for each other's interests! and sharing one or two - I think you have to, to have something to talk about! Luckily I like hockey and English soccer, which are his main interests in life :-) so we have something major in common!

Thanks again everyone, as always, you had something interesting to share and insights which I love. May we all be happily reading tonight, with or without our spouses/boyfriends! :-)

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