Books, For Readers

Are you in a Toxic (Reading) Relationship?

I love my husband, I do.


There is something about him I desperately want to change — his reading habits. Not only (in my opinion) does he not read enough, but he’s not reading the “right” books, and he’s definitely not adequately pondering the works when he does. More pondering, please! 

I knew about his crazy reading appreciation deficiency coming into our marriage, but thought my encouragement and Barnes and Noble purchases would be enough to get him to realize his inner-reader. Or, at least, enough to fulfill my daydreams of discussing the symbolism of Miss Havisham’s bridal gown while holding hands at the breakfast table. 

Not so.

I know I’m not alone in this bibliophilic bonding discord. And those of us who suffer can’t remain silent forever.

For fear that such a reading relationship should become toxic, sometimes you have to venture outside of the home for comfort.  Don’t worry — this is much more innocent than it sounds.  For me, I can find solace within my book club discussions, through blogging, and in conversations with my reading friends and relatives.  Literary harmony in the home can then be restored.

However, not every reader has a ready network to which they can turn.  How does a fiction junkie persevere among a sea of non-fiction mothers in her child’s play-group?  How does a romance addict cope with the constant swooning when there is no one around to catch them?  And, how should a biography buff proceed when in contact with a science fiction groupie? 

The answer is, “very carefully.”

If you keep your ears and mind open, there is hope for such dysfunctional relationships.  Befriending those with different reading habits can open you up to new authors, genres, and ideas. 

My husband has been pleasantly surprised by some of my recommendations — others he uses as doorstops on windy days.  We may end up discussing I am America (and so can you!)  instead of Great Expectations, but it’s worth living part of the dream. 

And sometimes we even hold hands.

3 thoughts on “Are you in a Toxic (Reading) Relationship?”

  1. To get my husband to read anything besides techie mags, I’ll mention that I wish I had certain books for myself that I secretly think he’ll like, too, and sometimes they show up as presents for me and we’ll end up sharing them. (He doesn’t read fast enough to have a library check-out work well, even with a renewal, and it seems he needs to almost covet the book rather than just be given it as a gift to really get his interest.) Colbert’s was one of those, and you’re right, it is pretty funny! Another author that works well for both of us is David Sedaris; much more meat to his stuff than Colbert’s book, but great humor, too.


  2. I still try & convince my dear husband of the merits of my beloved Jane Austen, but he’s not having any of it.
    I got him to read my other beloved’s (Stephen King) Dark Tower series, and we did actually have a serious discussion.
    I am just happy that he does now attempt to broaden his literary horizons, not that he has a choice..
    I have to admit to being a complete literary prostitute. I will, and do, read anything I can get my hands on. That’s not to say I always enjoy it, sometimes I dismiss a books as pulp, at other times it can fill me with such rage I have to get it out of the house as soon as possible after finishing it. (Wuthering Heights comes in this category – utter tripe. Charlotte I can stand, though she could go on a bit. Anne I positively love. Emily, well, mad as a box of frogs, as we say in these parts.)
    My house is overflowing with books I, very reluctantly, at times consent to taking a box to the charity shop – but usually come back with more. Over the years he has had to get used to them, and has been know to pick them up. I even got my father in law (known for only ever reading 1 book – Catch 22, again & again) to read more. It’s impossible to ignore the lure of the pages.


  3. Shaz, I love your phrase, “I have to admit to being a complete literary prostitute.” It reminds me of when I was grade-school age and would read, and re-read, the backs of the shampoo and conditioner bottles while in the shower just so I could be reading *something*. (I had tried reading in the shower by holding a book outside the shower curtain; that didn’t work so well.) Those were the days…showers that lasted longer than the hurried few minutes I get now. 😉 Luckily, I did eventually figure out that a faster shower would leave me with more reading time for things a bit more interesting than the benefits of using Short -n- Sassy shampoo!



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