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I am a girl looking for a boy and I like…

This morning I went to the coffeeshop around the corner from my apartment to, well, get some coffee and do the crossword (coffeeshops always lose points when they don’t offer free newspapers with Arts sections for me to poach) and I noticed that the cut-out snowflakes that had been adorning the windows since December were now replaced with multicolored paper hearts. It took me a minute, but I finally figured out that it was February, and February means Valentine’s Day.

Whether or not you’re a supporter of February 14th or not, there’s no denying its presence during the bleakest month each year. I mentioned briefly in an earlier post the matchmaking board at Word, an independent bookshop in my neighborhood. I love reading all the slips of paper tacked to it every time I stop by. They’re all the same format, with spaces only for “I’m a _____ looking for a ______” and what books/authors you do like and those you don’t. That’s it! No other personality traits or qualifications, these matches are made based on books and writing preference alone.

Which gets me thinking. How much does compatibility in literary tastes matter in compatibility? Does it matter? Similar or, conversely, vastly different tastes are certainly helpful for awkward first date conversation—mention the book you’re reading (or, really, any subjective artistic pursuit) and whether the two of you can gush together or argue amicably, there’s at least ten minutes of waiting for the food to come covered. I would never decisively say that a preference for a certain genre of literature or a writer’s body of work could ever define a person (as evidenced by John’s post earlier this week), but it’s still really fun to find someone else who has read the same obscure novel or loves the same generally ridiculed author as you.

In any case, while I myself am hardly adventurous enough to fill out one of those forms and stick them up for the world to see, I wholeheartedly encourage everyone else to do so—otherwise I don’t get to read them!

12 Responses to I am a girl looking for a boy and I like…

  1. Donn says:

    What’s the quote from High Fidelity…

    “What really matters is what you like, not what you are like. Books, records, films – these things matter.”

    A lot of literary taste comes down to, not just respect or admiration or regard, but appeal, affinity, connection.

    If a certain book really attracts (or even, repulses) you, then I think that says something about who you are, and maybe who you want to be, and certainly about who you would be attracted to (or repulsed by) in turn.

  2. The person I’ve felt most compatible with of everyone I’ve dated was, oddly enough, not a huge reader. However, we were attracted to the same kinds of stories, and when I’d give him a novel, he’d end up liking it, and vice versa. He just didn’t read a huge quantity of them. But! That’s the changeable thing. Anyone can start reading more. It’s harder to change preference (the qualitative element), unless it’s a simple matter of lack of exposure to a certain author or genre, etc.

  3. Amy says:

    I don’t find having a different taste in books as big a hurdle as having differing musical tastes. Reading is a private thing, and I’ll get along with someone as long as they have a love for some sort of literature. (I actually like when people I date have a different sensibility than me, so they can educate me about their passion.) Music, on the other hand, is an “out loud” thing. It starts to grate if you have a big difference in opinion there.

  4. Becky Levine says:

    My husband and I have VERY different tastes (for example, I’ve only read ONE Robert Heinlein book that I liked!), but, for me, the biggest thing was and is that he READS. I think a non-reader would have been a deal-breaker. Oh, and obviously, he totally supports my book habit–whether I’m hauling things home from the library OR the bookstore. :)

  5. EEV says:

    I agree with Amy. Books are private, songs aren’t. Thank God me and my husband have very eclectic tastes – about almost everything.

    That’s funny, it reminded me of a very popular music where I live.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7OZmdPBEj84
    It’s about a guy who met a girl and tried to take her to a show he knew she didn’t like, he sold a ring to buy her the ticket and she never showed up. Translated, it would say in the chorus “You can’t love someone who doesn’t sing the same song as you”.
    Of course it’s just a song – but it’s true that a love for one specific book, or author, or else, can be a nice ground to start something, even if just a talk.

  6. LBell says:

    If literary compatibility determines overall relationship success, then I’m floating down a river without a paddle. My husband is very nearly illiterate in the male sense of the word–unless it’s been assigned by some authoritative figure, he won’t touch it with a ten foot pole. I, however, don’t play Starcraft, so fortunately that didn’t factor in either.

  7. Teri says:

    Ahhhh book compatibility. I’m on my way home from AWP and the last few days have been all about that, connecting through our tastes in writing and writers. There are so many thousands who attend, obsessive readers all, and this is the key that fits. Or not. Are you into Gary Shteyngart or Amy Hempel? What book are you reading there? Can we talk?

  8. Q XU says:

    My husband and I are both writers, both work from home, so are together most of the time, every day. We have been happily together for 16 years and could not be more compatable. Our reading tastes could not be more different.

    I think it’s true that simply being an avid reader is far more important than our literary tastes.

  9. yuliana says:

    hi i love ryan jk he is horrible just likea pig and i actually love george

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