Valentine’s Day is a day to celebrate love: Love for a person, love for a pet, love for that amazing book that you couldn’t put down even to meet the love of your life. This month, we spied a couple Chicagoans whose love of reading helped move a relationship along.
First, my own story. Luckily, I managed to hold my spot in a good book long enough to not miss out on the love of my life, although it was only another book that caused that to happen.
I was reading Neil Gaiman's The Graveyard Book, a story about a boy who is orphaned due to mysterious circumstances. Raised by an unconventional “ghostly” family, he has to navigate adolescence while keeping guard against an evil being coming to finish him. I was completely immersed—until I caught the person next to me on the train pulling out a huge book. It was one of my favorites: Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, which is all about magic in 19th century England. I had recently finished it and was still slightly inhabiting that world where magic is a trade governed by private societies. Plus, Gaiman, who I was reading, actually wrote the foreword to the book. I simply had to say something and leaned over with, “That is a really great book.” We’ve been married for four years now.
Visiting a fictional world together can be romantic and insightful, whether listening to an audiobook on a long road trip or reading aloud to each other. We talked to one woman who only discovered upon co-reading Farmer Boy with her husband that he had experienced farming life early on, and knew how to churn butter and tap maple trees!
That pair also devoured The Martian together—after each picking it up on the same day to share with the other. While it's a solitary story of an astronaut left behind on Mars, it's also full of hope and humor.
Scheduling a reading discussion isn’t a problem if you live together. Many couples start their own two-person book clubs. A couple we talked to recently had a deep and challenging conversation on the The Golden Compass, a book they both had been meaning to get to and decided to read at the same time.
What books have you shared with a loved one?