Noise and smelliness notwithstanding, my most reliable indicator of relationship longevity has been the Boyfriend Book Recommendation. Of the many horrible “oh you’ve GOT to read this” recommendations I’ve gotten from boyfriends, the two that have stuck with me, kind of like insults, were ones that took me by complete surprise.
There was the sporty hydrologist who wanted me to read that Paulo Cohelo series that starts with The Alchemist. And when I said “no thanks” he thought it was because I was put off by it being a series. So he recommended Way of the Peaceful Warrior.
Q. How had I not noticed his bookshelf? A. It was behind layers of sports gear.
Then there was the underwater geochemist who offered to loan me The Celestine Prophecy because -ahem- it would change my life. Sure my life pretty much sucked at that moment- mostly because someone was suggesting I read The Celestine Prophecy.
My favorite ex story has got to be the no meds, bi-polar, barefoot, ESL teacher. He knew a lot about obscure Icelandic poets, which, like, I can’t even name a popular Icelandic poet so, okay, and the books I always saw him with were old, smelly, and had been mouldering the better part of their paperback lives away in the “free” bin at the library. (It sounds like I am dissing free books here but I am not. Just setting the scene.) There wasn’t any one book that he recommended; sometimes he would just show up at my office with a bag full of smelly books and bruised, discount fruit and give it to me saying, “I saw these and thought of you”. There were many, many things wrong with this umm…situation (I don’t even want to call it a relationship).
He liked to read to me, which seemed really romantic the first time, until after 2 minutes I remembered that I’m not actually much of a romantic and it was really kind of boring. I thought it was a one-time thing until he kept doing it. I could never make it more than a few sentences without finding some reason to get up and do….anything else. I finally figured out that what made it really hard to sit and listen to him was that he read in the style of Capt. James T. Kirk of the U.S.S. Enterprise. Only he didn't realize it. He thought [insert your best James T. Kirk voice here] he…was, being…dramatic. On the up side it was hysterically funny.
I have had a couple of good book v. boy experiences. The writer guy who is now a librarian- I had serious bookshelf envy there. The cartoonist guy- he introduced me to Harper’s, which I still read over 10 years later.
I’m lucky enough right now to have the best book-boyfriend combination I could dream of. Our book love is like a Venn diagram with 2 circles that overlap nicely to leave robust crescent moons on the edges. If I have lowered the bar in the past, now I am standing on the top of a ladder, that is on top of tower, that is on top of a really tall building built on a hill. And there are books as far as the eye can see.