When Your Partner Doesn’t Love Reading

Do you date non-readers? One of us married one.

I’m married to a wonderful man. He’s clever, he’s funny, he’s pretty much perfect… but he doesn’t love books. I’ve been a bookaholic since I taught myself to read aged 3, and I ended up marrying a man who can’t see the point of fiction.

I’ve lent him dozens of my favorite books; he’s only ever managed to finish one. I read him paragraphs out loud; he remains unmoved. I read the book; he watches the movie. Reading has always been the greatest love of my life, and we just don’t share it.

When you’re crazy for literature, it’s hard to comprehend that some people don’t get lost inside pages, or get teary-eyed when they walk into a bookshop. For a long time, I kept pushing passages down his throat, or telling him in captivating (or so I thought) detail the entire plot of the last novel I read — but eventually, his yawns started to clue me in. We weren’t going to bond over books until I changed the way I talked about them.

Sometimes, I’m sneaky. Just sometimes, I pretend the story I’m telling him about is true. My husband is much more interested in nonfiction, so I can guarantee a good reaction if I tell him some spellbinding tale that really happened! I (usually) admit afterwards…

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marriage and books

Other times, I talk about the histories of the authors themselves. You don’t have to enjoy Ulysses to be fascinated by the way James Joyce recreated Dublin in precise detail from 1,000 miles away in Zurich. Putting authors’ work into context helps me reinterpret the books I’m reading, and it gives my husband and I something to share an interest in.

And when a passage from a book really blows me away, I tell him that. Instead of expecting him to see the beauty in a particular quote, I tell him exactly why I liked it. I talk to him about what reading means to me, and slowly, we’ve learned to share my passion. As long as I don’t bore him with a pot synopsis, he can enjoy my excitement when I read something sensational. If I spell out the way it makes me feel, he just has to care!

How important is it to you to have a partner who is also a reader? 

About Emma Oulton

EMMA OULTON has more books than friends, and is perfectly happy with that arrangement. She lives in London with a dog called Hippo, works in publishing, and live-tweets her life from @emmaoulton.

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