I’m sitting on the couch, laughing. Snort laughing, because this part of the Terry Pratchett book is hilarious. In some place like a library or coffee shop, I would get strange looks, maybe a smile. From my partner . . . not even a glance.
He’s so used to it he’s learned to tune it out. We’ve been together for ten years and in that time I have learned that when I want to talk books, recommend authors, or geek out because the latest Neil Gaiman is on shelves I can count on his reply being a blank look. His interests just aren’t bookish.
I wish I could tell you that a long relationship is more about two people in perfect sync than it is about pushing the trash down all sneaky-like so you don’t have to be the one to take it out. In truth, there is more. It’s companionship, support, inside jokes and someone who loves you even when you’re sick and looking gross. Still, doesn’t mean your partner will fall in love with books as much as you love them
It took several years, broken down into three steps, for me to reach the point of acceptance for this basic difference between our personalities. If I can help someone else get to that point, this article will have done a good thing.
Step 1: Try every method you can think of to get your soulmate reading.
You’ve asked them what books they like to read because yes, you definitely build your perception of another person based on what genres and authors they love. So when your significant other lists just three or four books that they like, you assume they must have forgotten to list the hundred or so others that you would have.
After you’ve moved in together you realise; they weren’t joking. They don’t read much or read for fun at all. This is OK, this is fine, you can fix that by introducing them to the wonderful worlds that are in books!
Recommending a book you think they will like? Check. Pretty much ruining the whole plot by describing it too much in an effort to interest them? Yep. The oh-so-casual leaving the book out in a conspicuous place? Done. The check-up nudge to read the book you recommended, followed by a switch to another book they might like more? Check and check.
Because your partner is a wonderful person who wants to make you happy, they try the book. And DNR it. Followed by the next one. DNR. Got one chapter in. Finished the first half, and stopped.
Step 2: The dawning realisation that your other half will not turn into a bookworm by osmosis.
Describing the books did not work. Rhapsodising about amazing authors caused no change. The books they started for you and never finished did not make them a believer. They did not find a favourite author. When you have some downtime together, they would rather do anything else but crack open a book.
The thought that they might not ever become a bibliophile like you has started to creep in. It takes an adjustment of your worldview to understand that someone you love is just not into reading like you are. For you books are a comfort, the characters are friends, they open your world and expand it, lift you up when you’re sad, make you feel, make you learn. For your partner . . . they’re a chore.
They may discover one or two books that they enjoy and read the whole thing for you, but books will never be their go-to activity. So what do you do now?
Step 3: Accept that you are the reader and your partner is not.
At this point, it may be time to stop trying to share your love of books and savour the other activities you like to do together. Not every interest can be a shared one between you, and that’s part of a relationship. It’s possible that while your love might not want to read the novels they would enjoy hearing what you like about them.
- Tell them what’s so cool about the book you’re currently into, and why.
- Dive into the ideas behind the story that fascinate you, without making them read. They might not be into the turning pages part but they do enjoy talking to you.
- Appreciate the fact that they don’t mind letting you disappear into a book while they watch their favourite show.
- Recommend books for them to buy for your birthday, and say thank you. You two might never be that super cute scene from Disney/Pixar’s Up where Carl and Ellie are reading together in their separate chairs, but they let you fly your bibliophile flag with pride and that’s pretty cool.
Besides, they will end up knowing the plots of books you care about anyway because there are always movie adaptations to go see together.