How To Love Someone Who Hates Reading

It seems impossible. How could you, a devoted, passionate book nerd, fall for someone whose idea of reading is scanning the cable guide for an episode of American Pickers or Naked and Afraid ? What do you do if you find yourself in such a horrible situation? Break up? Call the person insane? Shove a copy of A Little Life in his or her face just as the American Pickers dudes are about to discover yet another rusted 1930s bicycle wheel?


You take a deep breath before doing anything rash, like ending the relationship or assaulting him or her with a subversive novel about identity and psychic scars. I hate to break it to you, but despite your grand dreams of falling madly in love with someone who adores Flannery O’Connor and worships Murakami and who wants to fall asleep each night in your arms as you read Irish poetry to each other, you might just wind up with one of those people who say things like, “I hate reading books.” Atrocious, I know, but remember that people who hate books are people too. Sort of.

Maybe you date a bunch of book-lovers, but they all turn out to be epic failures. You might set your sights on a sweet scientist or “numbers person” or app creator. This person is wonderful — kind, funny, generous, hot. But he or she just really, really hates to read. Believe it or not, that disgusting character flaw doesn’t have to be a deal breaker.

On the other hand, if this person is constantly belittling you for reading books and tossing your novels out the window because you’re paying more attention to books than to him, then fine. That’s a good reason to kick him to the curb (the person, not the book). But if you find yourself with an otherwise wonderful person who hates to read, there are ways to cope and even have a healthy, happy relationship. Here are some tactics you can try:

Try To Change His Mind

You’re not supposed to change people when you’re in a relationship, but if it’s something super-important (like a loud lip-smacking habit or a hatred of books) it’s OK to make an attempt at reform. Find books he might be interested in, even if it’s a short history of welding or a brief biography of Genghis Kahn (don’t scare him away with long books, and remember that pictures in the books should help). Tell them that reading keeps your mind sharp, and books will keep them from going senile in old age. If those tactics don’t work, just know that you gave it your all. If they do work, you are a superhuman master of manipulation, so hooray for you.

Accept Her Flaws

You tried, but she's still watching American Ninja Warrior while you underline passages in The Story of My Teeth . You love her, so it’s time to accept her fatal flaw and maybe even learn to appreciate it. Someone (my husband’s grandfather, to be exact) once said, “You know you’re in love when you find someone’s flaws adorable.” So, remember that the next time she says, “I hate reading.” Accept the fact that she's not quite as evolved as you are. Nobody’s perfect, right?

Practice Patience

You’ve accepted his flaw, but sometimes it still makes you crazy that you can’t discuss a plot twist or a beautiful sentence with him. “Why won’t he at least read Gone Girl so we can talk about a freaking book?!” is something your inner voice might scream from time to time, like a banshee. Take a step back, remember that he's sweet and kind, and go talk your book loving friend Sam about it. As a rule, relationships require a colossal amount of patience, so this is good practice.

Learn to See Your Differences As A Good Thing

Now you’re getting to the good part. You can see that it’s actually a positive thing that she loves running marathons while you love sitting on your ass and powering through a novel for seven hours on a Sunday. Opposites attract and all that. It might even be adorable that you’re so different. Don’t get mushy about it, but just try and see your differences as a positive thing, because it probably is. Who wants to be around a couple that’s totally in sync and agrees about every single thing and quotes the exact same Neruda poem at the exact same time at parties? That’s just gross.

Claim The Bookshelves

Here’s a real perk when it comes to loving someone who hates books — you get to claim every inch of bookshelf space. It’s your divine right as a book-lover. He can have the corner of the coffee table where the remote goes or whatever, but you get the shelves for all your beautiful books.

So remember all of this the next time you’re second guessing your relationship just because your partner hates books so much that he won’t even read a pamphlet. Not everyone can be perfect and appreciate the sheer beauty or the written word, like you.

Image: Olu Eletu/Unsplash