|Image from The New Yorker|
I come from a very small family. At our major holidays, there are just six of us--me, my parents, my grandparents, and my uncle. Within that group, there's really no one to talk to about the books I read. I mean, my grandma reads a lot of chick lit. My dad reads pretty much whatever I tell him and he makes some really good choices on his own, but discussing literature (beyond a kind of basic plot description) is not really his thing. I could talk about books, but it would be a mostly one-sided conversation. That's the way it has always been.
My uncle is getting married. I haven't met the person he's marrying yet or her teenage daughter. In an effort to be happy about this change (I mean, adding two people to a family of six is kind of a big deal), I passed along some questions for my uncle to ask his intended. One asked which side of the major intrastate rivalry she was on. One asked which her favorite baseball team was. These two would tell me a lot about her character and personality. The last one, the most important one, was what are some of her favorite authors. This question would tell me if I would ever have anything to say to her beyond a comment about the weather.
My uncle said he knew that she read. A lot. Sometimes several books at a time. But he really didn't know any specific authors, so he'd get back to me. I was hopeful, but not willing to count my chickens before they hatched. I figured she read a lot of biographies and non-fiction, but that maybe we'd have some common historical interests and could talk about that.
I. Struck. Gold.
When my uncle reported back, I couldn't get over my elation! We read the same kinds of books! She likes literature! Really good literature! Austen, Bronte, Wharton, Parker, and several others that I am familiar with, even if I haven't read anything by them. She also likes some modern classics authors that I've been meaning to get to, like Amy Tan.
I am not sure when I will finally meet her. The wedding is in July, so I know it will be some time before then. Regardless, I want to make sure we have something to talk about, so I quickly came up with three books I want to read beforehand--The Portable Dorothy Parker by Dorothy Parker, Persuasion by Jane Austen, and House of Mirth by Edith Wharton. These are all books I've been wanting to read for a while, so I'm not being a total poser, but knowing that my uncle's future wife likes them helped bump them up higher on my list.
So...my question to you guys is: Have you ever read certain books in order to further your relationship with someone (not necessarily romantic)? How did it work out for you?