Zanneke wearing her new Cheetah dress
Portrait of Zanneke

Reading relationships

Chris and I subscribe to the Sunday New York Times, one of the nice perks of moving east. I go out and fetch it from the mailbox while my breakfast toasts in the toaster every Sunday morning.  Chris dives into the sport section while I steadily work thru the paper. Sunday Afternoon, I get deeper and deeper, finally reaching the Sunday Business and my treasured travel section (which I always save for last). Sometimes when a Sunday is particularly busy I don't even get to the the travel section and I have to hide it away and save it for later in the week, or it will be swept away to the recycling box and the curb by Monday evening.

I am always pleased on Monday when stories from the Sunday Times show up in other venues. Today it was the Korean-Vietnamese marriage story that was on top of the portal at the one of the message boards I frequent, and the essay about books and romance that inspired a segment in NPR's Talk of the Nation this afternoon that I happen to catch a portion of while I drove to pick up Arwen after school.

The essay, "It’s Not You, It’s Your Books" By Rachel Donaido brought back memories of our early dating days. I remember picked up my copy of "How Green was My Valley" that had a place of honor in my bookcase and made time to read it, and I remember how happy he was to have enjoyed reading it. Maybe our young relationship would have derailed if he hated my then favorite book, but I somehow think we would have overcome it. But happily he enjoyed it and we weren't tested in that way. In fact we have gone of to share many favorites since then. I have gone on to read " The Stand" and "Whirlwind" and he has often picked up a book I have just finished because I had enjoyed it so much. In fact the most successful book recommendation we have ever given each other  was his recommendation of George R.R. Martin's 'Song of Ice and Fire' series. I at the time feeling very burned out on Science Fiction and Fantasy. I was so sure I wasn't going to read the book, I let Chris spoil great big chucks of the plot as we drove back from our year in California. At the end of the trip I was so intrigued, that I picked up the book and was hooked on Fantasy again. Chris also hooked me on comics by handing me a stack of X-men and Excalibur one reading recess, as I procrastinated preparing for finals. 87 comics and two days later, I was a fangirl.

It might seem from my examples that our literary exchange only goes one way, but I think that a result of the unevenness of our reading tempos. Chris reads steadily and voraciously, I read in binges. Going weeks without reading any more than webpages and news articles, and then losing myself in a book, for days, only surfacing for food and water, with my finger stuck in the book keeping my place. Chris countered this afternoon that he is also a binge reader, only his binge has lasted for 34 years. I have always read this way intensely and sporadically. Back in High School I spent a entire retreat weekend, consumed in 'Jurassic Park', till one of the youth leaders asked me to try putting the book down and interact with everyone else. I still finished the book that weekend though, I just tried to be less obvious about by my consumption of it.

In the essay people reject possible dates and lovers over book or genre choices and I can certainly understand that people make those kind of choices, not the choices I would make, since I think finding a spouse that values reading is way more important than if they love magical realism or hate fantasy. As a reader I fully understand Chris's need to have book time, more than someone who has no need to ever read. 


I may have turned Ana onto more books but she's certainly returned the favor in terms of TV shows, having discovered Amazing Race, Buffy, Angel, Veronica Mars, Trading Spaces and more.

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