Has a book lover caught your eye? We’ve got some tips for writing the two of you a happy ending.
It is love, poets say, that makes the world go around. It was true in Shakespeare’s era and it’s still true today. Ask Google or Bing to serve up a platter of “man seeking woman,” “woman seeking man,” or whatever combination may suit you and you’ll find yourself inundated with personal ads, relationship advice, and websites for online dating.
Love is big business – and no wonder. Everyone seeks love and romance – even book lovers. Perhaps especially book lovers. Beating within the breast of every strict librarian is the wild heart of a libertine aching to be set free.
But if Sarah Ockler’s #Scandal has taught us anything, it’s that dating is a dangerous game. There are so many ways it can go wrong…but also so many ways it can go right.#Scandal is available now a full read (through March 27th) so definitely check it out for a laugh and some pretty serious dating don’ts. On the other hand, if you or someone you know is looking for some good dating advice, keep on reading!
1. DO ASK WHAT THEY’RE READING
On any given day, every book lover is reading at least one book. “What are you reading lately?” may seem like an innocuous conversation starter, but it’s a much more intimate question than “How do you like this weather?” or “What do you do for a living?” Committed readers have complex, intimate relations with books. When you enquire after a book lover’s current reading you are inviting them to share a bit of their soul.
Telling you the title—or worse, silently showing you the cover—is, technically, an answer to the question. But it’s not a reply to the question you were really asking. Let them know that you’re really interested with a follow-up question: “How are you liking it?” “How does it stack up to her other work?” “I couldn’t get past page 50 – did I miss the good part?”
2. DON’T SAY YOU SAW THE MOVIE
For book lovers, the book is always better than the movie. When you say, “I never read the book, but hey, I saw the movie, so that’s almost the same thing,” all a reader can hear is fingernails on a blackboard. You might as well confess that you torture puppies for fun.
Later, after you get to know each other, you can carefully start a discussion about the very rare movies that actually are better than the books they’re based on. “The Wizard of Oz” is a possibility. “The Godfather.” Once your book-loving partner accepts you as a bona fide reader, you can have such a conversation.
3. DO ASK ABOUT THEIR FAVORITES
Every reader has favorite books, stories, poems, and authors. Asking a book lover to discuss their favorites isn’t putting them on the spot; it’s giving them a chance to share their enthusiasm. Don’t press if your date is shy about disclosing their favorites. Everyone has guilty pleasures. Tell them about your own favorites, including books that don’t qualify as big-L literature. Your goal isn’t really to learn about the books, but to learn about them.
Once they see you are really interested, don’t be surprised if the word-flood starts.
4. DON’T PRETEND
It’s tempting to appear more widely read than you are, or to pretend that you are familiar with authors you haven’t read. Don’t do it—a real book lover will see through you in a minute. You may know that Salman Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children has won a series of important awards. But if you haven’t read it—and if you can’t compare it to other works of postcolonial magical realism, including the works of Gabriel García Márquez—then your claim to know the book may ring hollow. (Yeah, your book-loving babe may be a bit of a snob and that’s ok.)
There’s something touching about a swain who attempts to impress their date by quoting Shakespeare, but it’s impressive only if the quote is apt. You won’t impress your date when you tell them you dream of being like Romeo and Juliet—they both die at the end of the play.
5. DO ASK FOR RECOMMENDATIONS
Every book lover is thrilled to share special favorites with receptive readers. If you accept a recommendation, then you must read the book or confess that you tried and found that it wasn’t to your taste. Do not under any circumstances try to get away with reading the Cliff’s Notes. You will be caught and your duplicity will be judged as serious a betrayal as sexual infidelity. Book lovers take reading very seriously.
6. DON’T MAKE IT ALL ABOUT BOOKS
Remember, readers are people too. You can talk about current events or family or any other subject. Your book-loving date may enjoy in-line skating or bicycling. Maybe they’ve backpacked through Asia or worked the night shift at a diner. They’ve got stories to tell that don’t come from books.
It may take a bit of coaxing, but with patience you should be able to get the book lover in your life to go bowling with you, or whip up a dessert for a pot-luck with friends, or have a traditional dinner-and-a-movie date. Book lovers sometimes need a little encouragement to live life spontaneously instead of vicariously. Your ability to live in the moment will become part of what they like about you. Share it!
7. DO EMBRACE THE PORTABLE LIBRARY
You can’t make water run uphill, you can’t kiss your own elbow, and you can’t prevent your book-loving date from bringing a novel with them wherever the two of you go. You’ll find books in your car. You’ll eventually clear a shelf so they can keep books at your place.
They love the way a book can transform waiting at the dentist’s office from a pointless chore to a visit to Macondo or lunch at Hogwarts or a visit with Mr. Darcy. Every spare minute is an opportunity to dive into a world of the imagination.
8. REMEMBER TO BE THANKFUL
People who read are imaginative, passionate, emotional, smart, articulate, and funny. When you find yourself dating a reader, be grateful. You’ve found a partner who can draw upon all of human history for inspiration and instruction in being a good partner. They may just make a reader of you too.