If you’re lucky enough to be in a relationship with a fellow book nerd, then you probably already read with your partner all the time. If you don’t, you definitely should, and it’s never too late to start. But then, where exactly to start? You could just choose any old book off the shelf and get straight to it. Or, you could start by reading each other’s favorite books together — but, well, favorite books are kind of a big deal, and maybe you’re not quite there yet. Thankfully, there are some books that just happen to be perfect for reading with a partner.
Maybe you’re looking for something that’ll get at your feels and have you both making lovey-dovey eyes at each other. Or maybe you’re looking for a book that will push you and your man or woman to rethink and build upon your relationship. Or maybe you both want to beef up your feminism chops. Then again, maybe it’s just not that serious and you’re just looking to have some fun with a good book and the person you let see you naked on the regular. Whatever you’re looking for, these nine books are a great place to start.
1. The History of Love by Nicole Krauss
Because the couple that cries together… or something. But seriously, it’s a sad romantic story of enduring love, loneliness, and loss, and aren’t such things better faced with someone else?
2. The Solitude of Prime Numbers by Paolo Giordano
It’s love in all its awkward, neurotic, traumatic, messed-up glory. With all the prettied up, picturesque, movie versions of all love out there, the story of these traumatized, broken youths is a reminder of how life can mess us up pretty good but we still deserve and can find love.
3. Straight: The Surprisingly Short History of Heterosexuality by Hanne Blank
All the mainstream movies and bestselling books adore bombarding us with boy-meets-girl love stories, but it turns out boy-meets-boy, girl-meets-girl, everyone-kinda-meets-a-bit-of-everyone was far more common for a large part of human history. It’ll be an interesting read no matter who you like to “meet” with.
4. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
Yes, it’s about adultery, but it’s also about passion and marriage and women and defying social conventions, and about a diversity of romantic couples and how they get through things together. Also, it’s an amazing book and everyone should read it anyway. If you’ve already read it, it’ll be like reading it for the first time again when you read it with your significant other.
5. Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides
Taking on gender identity as its main theme, Middlesex is a book everyone should read. Reading it with your partner will make you both stretch your minds to rethink gender identity, gender roles, and how gender plays into your own relationship. Also, it’s just a good story.
6. Brief Interviews with Hideous Men by David Foster Wallace
You or your partner might find yourself relating to some of the deeply flawed characters in this collection of stories. If you don’t, then you can thank your lucky stars and be reminded of your own (possibly less egregious) flaws and get all mushy with each other talking about how much you love each other flaws and all. Hey, if it isn’t said often enough: Nobody’s perfect.
7. Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay
You’re a modern woman and a modern feminist. Maybe your partner is a modern woman and/or a modern feminist. Either way, you should both enjoy a tour of the trials, troubles, and triumphs of being a feminist in today’s turbulent world with one of today’s brightest critics. With Gay’s chill style, pop culture talk, and tough honesty, it’ll be like taking boo out to meet the bestie.
8. Sister, Outsider by Audre Lorde
Beef up you and your partner’s feminist chops with this brilliant work of intersectional feminism.
9. Blacksad by Juan Diaz Canales and Juanjo Guarnido
Full disclosure: At the subtle "request" of my own SO, I had to put this one the list because we actually read it together and now it's a favorite. It was super fun as a bedtime read and we had a lot of fun putting on our best noir-ish voices for the characters. Because sometimes you just need to read a book about big bad detective cats (yep, this literary comic is all humanoid cats and dogs solving crimes and taking names), put on your best femme fatale voice and have some fun with your partner.