|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?
Beautiful post. And congratulations to your uncle and family. Books seem to be the center of a relationship booster between me (the mom) and my kids. I read aloud to them every day from the time they were little through middle school and into high school. Reading aloud a book with a teenager is a bonding experience. You get mad at the same things and happy at the same things. :) It totally enriches the entire relationship.ReplyDelete
I wish. Unfortunately, I have almost no one in real life who likes to talk about books. I have a ton of readers: Gma reads mystery thrillers, Mom reads lots of the same books I do, Gpa reads non-fiction I give him, but not a one of them wants to have conversations longer than like 5 minutes. I'm a professor so most of my colleagues are avid readers; unfortunately we rarely have more than 5 minutes to chat about books. I'm excited for you though!ReplyDelete
I read House of Mirth in college and absolutely loved it!ReplyDelete
I'm so happy you have somebody to personally connect with regarding books. I don't have anybody like that really. My fiance reads comics, we have zero similar reading tastes, and I have a friend who reads a little but has a tough time keeping up with me.
Andrea @ Bookish
I'm so glad you're getting someone in your family who loves reading! I swap books with my sister and mom. My mom actually got both me and my sister in to reading at a very young age so it has always been a part of our lives to share books. I didn't really realize this wasn't the case in every family until I went to college D= Luckily, now you will have someone to discuss with!ReplyDelete
It'll be great to have a love of reading in common with your new aunt. There'll definitely be tons to talk about with her, and it's an easy conversation starter for each time you see her, too. An old massage therapist of mine also loved reading, and although we liked different authors, our conversations were always awesome because we'd discuss writing, stories, characters, opinions. I miss those conversations now that she's moved away!ReplyDelete
I got into The X-Files in 6th grade and read some of the spin off novels because I had a crush on a guy. I also discovered I was reading the LOTR trilogy at the same guy at work I had a crush on at the time was, so that was my motivation to get through them when I started getting bored with The Two Towers (it was the year the first film came out so it's our mutual timing wasn't exactly a huge surprise). Those are the only ones I can think of right now - my mom recommends books occasionally, but I feel like for the most part, it's me recommending or giving books to people, especially boyfriends, rather than the reverse (or when boyfriends do give me books, it's ones I told them I wanted rather than ones they think I should read because they loved them).ReplyDelete
Persuasion is my favorite Austen novel! I hope you enjoy it.
Congratulations on the upcoming wedding in your family! I'm so happy for you that your soon-to-be aunt likes books, you really did strike gold there! When my husband and I moved to Indiana soon after we were married, I joined a local book club in order to meet fellow book-minded people. The books we read in that group were rarely books I would have read on my own, but it pushed me out of my comfort zone, introduced me to authors I had never read before, and did help me make new friends! So yes, I have totally read books before with the sole objective of furthering a relationship! (Well, more creating relationships in this case, but you know what I mean.) I hope this is the start of a happy friendship between you and your aunt.ReplyDelete
PS- If you fall in love with Edith Wharton after reading House of Mirth (a likely scenario considering how awesome Wharton is) then I definitely recommend adding Age of Innocence to your TBR list. That's my favorite Wharton book, plus it won the Pulitzer, making Wharton the first ever woman to win that prestigious award. Definitely worth the read.
Interesting post. My daughter and I discuss books, although we don't read the same ones. We'll tell each other plots, things that annoy us, etc. My husband's not a read, but my mom reads a lot, just not usually the same ones I do.ReplyDelete
Yay so awesome! I have two sisters that do not read, or rather will only read rarely. My mother is the reader in my family, besides me and we talk about children's books a lot, but she doesn't read YA. So, I hit gold when I met my husband and he has TWO sisters... who read! He reads as well, but adult fantasy and nonfiction. He bugs me to read his favorite series and I will get to them ... one day.ReplyDelete
So, I pass on a lot of my favorite YA to my two sis-in-laws at every occasion, birthdays, Christmas and sometimes just because. I love to chat with them and if one reads a book before me they'll be like "HA! I read it before you!". :) I love it.
I'm also lucky because my aunt is a Middle School Librarian and so we chat about books whenever we see each other as well. She says she stalks my goodreads when purchasing books. I definitely use my love of reading when I can. I've even given my older sister some books to read when she has the time for it.
I envy you. Although my family is not so small like yours, I seem to be the only avid reader in the whole lot. I want that reader buddy with whom I can analyze and fawn over books! I haven't found that relative yet.ReplyDelete
To answer your question, "Crucial Conversations" http://www.amazon.com/Crucial-Conversations-Talking-Stakes-Edition/dp/0071771328 has been a life changer. It is not your typical book pick up off a shelf but it really is a great read.
Awesome post! I think that's great that you are getting another lover of books into your family!ReplyDelete
I have read books/graphic novels etc. to further my relationships with people. I like it because usually I'm reading something I don't normally read, and once I am done reading it, it may open up a new genre or introduce me to a new author AND I get to talk to my future friend about the book and have more discussions on it.
It also allows me to pass on books to new friends if I think they may like it and hopefully I can recommend a book to them in return!
No I am the only one in my family who likes books its saddening xReplyDelete
I love when I meet someone that reads and is so over the top like me!ReplyDelete
Missie @ A Flurry of Ponderings
That's great! It's so fun to find other people who read. I don't think it's fake to read something especially if it's something you wanted to read in the first place. I've read books my kids were into so I can talk about them with them. Sometimes I enjoyed them (the Sisters Grimm series by Michael Buckley) sometimes not (Twilight) but it was always a positive thing for the relationship.ReplyDelete
I love that you asked him about her reading habits and authors she loves. This was a lovely postReplyDelete
I blush to say I have. I like a guy and I found out two of his favorite books were Ender's Game and Ender's Shadow and since I had already been planning on reading them I did read them. I actually really enjoyed them so it was a win-win. :)ReplyDelete
You'll be able to start a book club with just the two of you as members - it sounds a great way to form a friendship. Few of my friends are really into books either or at least the ones I like so I rely on the book club for discussions. I did read End of Your Life Book Club recommended by someone I wanted to get to know better - problem was I really didn't like the book.So it was a lesson to me that you can fall out with someone over a book as well as fall in with them. Pick your moments well!ReplyDelete
I used to have a friend that was into a lot of the same stuff as me but she and I aren't friends any more. my mum reads some sarah addison allen and a few adult contemporary novels so we sometimes talk about books and swap them for a read. My dad doesn't read much, but he likes some of the movie versions so we watch those together.ReplyDelete
Both of my daughters-in-law are readers and we like mostly the same type of books. It wasn't planned, but just worked out that way.ReplyDelete
After starting to date my future-wife, I finally got around to reading the Harry Potter books that I had been reluctant to read up until then. My wife was a huge fan, so I wanted to be able to share them with her. Great decision, both because the Harry Potter books are awesome, and because it cemented our relationship at the time. We're celebrating our 10 year anniversary next year! :)ReplyDelete
That's amazing. I don't have anyone in my family either, but I have a lot of close friends. :) I'm sure your soon-to-be aunt will be happy to discuss it with you!ReplyDelete
My boyfriend is a big reader just like I am but we read completely different things. So from time to time we like to read each others books in order to further our understanding and reading relationship with each other.ReplyDelete
My little brother and I sometimes read the same books and we end up having really great conversations about the books that really end up strengthening our relationship (in my opinion). We are 11 years apart, so it's really neat how books can bridge that gap!ReplyDelete
The beauty of the book blogosphere is that it gives you a way to talk about books ALL the time with people who understand, which is awesome -- especially when you don't have those kind of people in your real, everyday life.ReplyDelete
For many years Harry Potter was the only thing I had in common with my little brother. Thirteen years separate us. We are both adults now but we still bond over books! Congrats on your new addition! ~MeganReplyDelete