Melissa’s Marriage of Readers: “To Have and To Hold…The Same Book?”

Please welcome my friend Melissa to The 3 R’s today! Melissa blogs at The Betty and Boo Chronicles, where she hosts the Memorable Memoirs Reading Challenge and blogs about books, autism, food, her 9 year old twins (Betty and Boo), current events, and The Husband (who you’ll meet in this guest post). I was fortunate to have Melissa as my roommate last year at BlogHer’10 in New York City, and am glad to have her visiting here today.

Arriving home with a stack of books from the library, I handed The Husband a book. 

“I might want to read this after you’re done with it,” I said.  

He looked at me.  I looked at him.  We both looked at the book.

Could this – would this (First Family: Abigail and John Adams, by Joseph Ellis) – be the one

You see, in the 20 years that The Husband and I have been together (married for 17 of them), we have yet to do something. 

We have yet to read the same book. 

I don’t mean at the same time.  I mean, as in never.   If you take all the books I’ve read over the past two decades (probably longer) and all the books he’s read over the past two decades, you won’t find any overlap. I’ve checked this on Shelfari, on our respective bookshelves, and by quizzing him (somewhat annoyingly so, I admit). 

And there’s none.  Nary a single book. Not a single sentence. Probably not a single author who we have in common. 

It’s not that we’re not readers.  Oh, we most definitely are.  Quite frankly, it’s one of the qualities about The Husband that was appealing back in the hey-day of the early ‘90s when he was just The Political Satire Columnist for Our College Newspaper and The Kinda Cute Guy in My Religion in America Class.  And the same is true of him, too.  He once remarked to a friend that he never imagined finding someone who likes to do nothing as much as he does. I took that as the highest compliment.  (I still do.) We’re very sedentary, very “cerebral in our interests,” as a therapist once espoused.  We’re probably the only couple who spent the majority of their honeymoon accompanied by Winston Churchill.  

(That’s a sign of true love, right?  That I remember what my beloved was reading on our honeymoon – the 1,088 page Churchill: A Life by Martin Gilbert?  Never mind that I have no idea what I was reading.) 

The funny thing about having never read the same book is that I’m the one who picks out The Husband’s books for him.  After 20 years together, I have a pretty good idea of what he likes, literary-speaking, and I’m rarely wrong.  He’s partial to biographies, particularly those about presidents (especially Franklin D. Roosevelt) and world leaders (Churchill), although George Steinbrenner and Larry Hagman have also made appearances in the family room recliner.  The presidential biography should, ideally, be one published long after the subject has left the Oval Office or, more preferably, this earth.  World events are good, too, although we don’t go back much past the American Revolution, the Civil War is generally not of interest, and recent events like 9/11, the 2008 presidential campaign and the ongoing economic crisis  Great Depression Part II are just too damn depressing to read about while living in the aftershocks of them. 

As for me?  I’m pretty much a literary fiction kind of gal, with a penchant for short stories. The last fiction book that The Husband read was probably a now-tattered Pet Semetary by Stephen King.  I read nonfiction, although it generally strays into biographies on writers, business tactics and marketing issues (“why would I want to read about work when I have to go there every day?”) or autism, which our son has (“after 7 years of this, I need to write a book on autism.”)  

However, hope does spring eternal. I think the day is getting closer when The Husband and I might possibly find ourselves having read the same book.  When he recently brought several boxes of books home from his office to keep in our den, I was sorting through them and remarked how much I want to read Katharine Graham’s Personal History.  (I’ve been saying this since 1997, which is when he bought the Washington Post publisher’s memoir.) , And this past April, when I brought home Edgar Allan Poe’s The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket and The Raven and Other Writings as my souvenirs from a conference in Baltimore, The Husband looked at them and said he might want to read them too.
“I’ve always liked Poe,” he said.  
“Really?” I said, learning something new about the man I’ve been sharing my life (but not my books) with for 20 years.  “How about that? Me too.”
Maybe there’s still hope for us to become a literary match made in heaven after all. 
Do you and your significant other have common reading interests? Tall Paul and I share a few books in common, and would have more if we could get around to reading all the ones we leave out on each other’s nightstands.

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