On Sunday the New York Times posted a hilarious (to book lovers anyway) essay on literary breakups–no not those that occur in books, but one’s that occur because of books. In Rachel Donadio’s essay “It’s Not You, It’s Your Books” (ha!), she explores literary reasons that are given for parting from a loved one (even when still in love) and suggests this tendency to say, reconsider dating someone who confessed to loving Hemingway (this happened to me, I confess) can be broken down on gender lines.
But while more women appear sensitive to this issue, Donadio explains that men are not completely immune:
“Still, to some reading men, literary taste does matter. “I’ve broken up with girls saying, ‘She doesn’t read, we had nothing to talk about,’” said Christian Lorentzen, an editor at Harper’s. Lorentzen recalls giving one girlfriend Nabokov’s “Ada” — since it’s “funny and long and very heterosexual, even though I guess incest is at its core.” The relationship didn’t last, but now, he added, “I think it’s on her Friendster profile as her favorite book.”
This hints at our current social models for interaction, for with so many gravitating to Facebook and MySpace, Donadio is quick to point out that “listing your favorite books and authors is a crucial, if risky, part of self-branding.”
As the essay also asserts, these differing preferences for books are more mirrors for other deeper elements of discord that may simply be the way we crystallize a decision that’s long been brewing. My boyfriend may not read fiction, but he reads mine, and also exposes me to ideas of nonfiction that might have taken a long time to discover, and that’s all that counts.
And you? Any book-breakups you would like to share? Anonymously, of course.