Would you date this person?

Man reading

At a recent One Story gathering (i.e. a bar), the conversation, as it so often does, turned to dating and books. One of us had recently broken things off with a guy who had mentioned his favorite book of all time was Tuesdays with Morrie (not the primary reason, of course). It sounds shallow out of context. But it’s an interesting question. In New York, there’s certainly no shortage of people who enjoy reading but just how important is it what your potential partner reads? We got to talking and realized that there are plenty of “dealbreaker” books but not so many “dealmakers.” For dealmakers, Italo Calvino was named and Jerzy Kosinski’s Being There and ladies like Joan Didion and Lorrie Moore. We could all agree that familiarity with short stories was a turn-on.

There is one Brooklyn bookstore hoping to bring literate lovebirds together by matching their literary tastes. Visitors to Word on Franklin Street in Greenpoint can now leave notes on a community bulletin board listing their favorite books and authors, along with contact info for interested parties to get in touch. Though no matches have been made yet, we at One Story think it’s a great idea. In that same spirit, chime in readers, men and women alike. What and who would you put on your own likes/dislikes list? And what would you absolutely not want to hear a first date say they love? And let’s keep things civil. Remember, this is all in good fun.

6 thoughts on “Would you date this person?

  1. Luckily I’m dating a very special lady who thinks that every book I’ve ever given her is terribly depressing and yet still thanks me for every new book with a smile and is genuinely happy that I’m sharing my own joys in life with her (deal maker). So I guess I’m answering this in terms of whether I’d want to be friends with someone or not.

    Twilight is a deal breaker for me. But I REALLY don’t like it when people claim they’ve read every title that comes up in conversation and then haven’t. I always feel a little left out when I’m talking to someone and they bring up a book or author I’ve never heard of so I can understand the impulse to just lie and say you’ve read them, but I guess this is more a matter of being truthful rather than people’s tastes… Trust more important than whether someone can talk about one of the books that JD Salinger wrote that isn’t called Catcher in the Rye. Plus if you fess to your ignorance, you get lots of cool new titles to go and look for! However, if someone tells me that they’re read Seymour: An Introduction and Raise High the Roofbeam Carpenters, then I know we’re going to have something in common.

  2. I don’t know if that is such a good idea. I consider myself a “literary type” of sorts. However, I know so many people who DON’T read at all; frankly, it’s alarming. Especially at my 9-5…I can’t talk to anyone about Sherman Alexie, or Katherine Anne Porter. It’s not going to happen. There’s enough anxiety in New York City’s dating scene. This is an uber-competitive metropolis: you need the right pedigree, schools, job, neighborhood, hair, clothing, etc. Do we REALLY want to judge people on their reading lists, as well? Are we really taking it there? Heesh. Tough crowd.
    Personally, I don’t seek out genre fiction, but I am not against it. I’m into literary fiction/nonfiction, indie/foreign films, and theatre. Nevertheless, I am realistic — I’m probably not going to find someone who likes EXACTLY the same things I do. I won’t look down on someone who doesn’t have the same reading list (as long it it doesn’t include “The Adventures of Frog and Toad”, that’s a red flag). Hopefully, people interested in the lit-dating board will open their minds to find common ground with other singles. So I say…if they have at least ONE book or author on their list you respect — give them a chance. You never know. 😉

  3. I understand your points Deanne. Dating in any city, big or small, is tough these days. But I actually think the lit-dating board is a great way of getting away from all the things you mentioned. The people don’t put up personal info like their jobs or income nor do they post photos of themselves. I personally like the creativity of it. In a lot of ways, it’s almost old-fashioned – it reminds a little of the old Jimmy Stewart movie ‘The Shop Around the Corner’ (and it’s modern update ‘You’ve Got Mail’), where the characters connected solely on an intellectual level and for most of the movie don’t even know who the other one is. You’re completely right when you say “you never know.” Whether any matches made with this board leads to lasting love or friendship, they will be made through a shared love of reading and that’s pretty cool.

  4. Ok, I’m out of play (married) but must mention that my husband and I bonded recently on Neal Stephenson’s Anathem, which I may not have read on my own… So my vote for big turnon would be whatever surprises and delights me! If a guy got me to read something I never would have read, and used that to clinch the second date, I think I’d be kind of turned on whether I liked what I read or not. Turned on, not necessarily in love.

    That said, I think I’m with Chris on the Twilight thing. Sorry Steph Meyer. Also Jodi Picoult’s book about the girl who was conceived to donate body parts to her sick sister.

  5. That is not to ignore your point of course, Deanne. I consider this all to be strictly tongue in cheek!

  6. Oona, you make a great point. Never underestimate the power of surprise! It’s always a turn on when you can help your partner discover things you love and they do the same for you. I never thought The Adventures of Kavalier & Clay would be my kind of book but I gave it a shot after an old b.f. told me he loved it. I ended up loving it too and even though things didn’t work out with the guy, good memories are still tied to that book and I’ll always cherish that.

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