I’m sitting on the couch, 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 over the written word I can count on his reply being a blank look. He is a mechanic and has an amazing amount of spatial-visual intelligence. Besides working on anything with a motor (and I mean anything) he welds, fixes anything a handyman could, and works with wood. I have three beautiful bookshelves he’s made over the years. Still doesn’t mean he loves books as much as I do.
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 already 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. When your significant other listed just three or four books that they like, you assumed they must have forgotten to list the hundred or so others that you would have.
After you’ve moved in together you realized; they weren’t joking. They don’t read much, or read for fun at all. 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 realization that your other half will not turn into a bookworm by osmosis.
Describing the books did not work. Rhapsodizing 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 favorite author. When you have some down time together, they have a million other projects on tap. The thought that they might not ever become a bibliophile like you has started to creep in.
It takes an adjustment to understand that someone you love is just not into reading like you are. For you books are 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 savor the other activities you like to do together. Not every single 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.
Delve 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 dive into a book while they watch their favorite show. Or the way they let you take up all the flat surfaces in the house with your books. More shelf space for you, right?
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.
picture courtesy stocksnap.io and Jessica Ruscello