“It’s Not you, it’s Your Books”
by Rachel Donadio
The New York Times, March 30th, 2008
“We’ve all been there. Or some of us have. Anyone who cares about books has at some point confronted the Pushkin problem: when a missed — or misguided — literary reference makes it chillingly clear that a romance is going nowhere fast. At least since Dante’s Paolo and Francesca fell in love over tales of Lancelot, literary taste has been a good shorthand for gauging compatibility.”
Stuff White People Like examines the issue: Can you date someone who is not well read?
Dating someone who is not as well read as you is a good idea since these type of people are more easily manipulated in terms of both actions and future tastes in books. The ability to entirely craft the literary tastes of your partner is highly desirable as it reinforces your own impeccable taste and allows you to play a literary version of Henry Higgins
In social situations there is a good chance that an poorly read person will admit to not having read Nabokov beyond Lolita or that they are unfamiliar with Umberto Eco’s essays on reading. Of course, there is the off-chance that they might commit intellectual and social suicide by asking your friends if they “loved The Da Vinci Code as much I did?” This is extremely embarrassing and reflects poorly on them. Ultimately, their actions are more of a statement about you and your inability to date someone of adequate literary experience.
It is recommended that you date and then subsequently dump someone who is considered “poorly read,” simply for the story. It will show your commitment to the importance of books and reading. But beyond that singular experience it is unacceptable to seriously date anyone who has not read the right books.
Thanks to Jake Adler for sending the article.