8 Books You Should Give Your Significant Other To Read, Because The Only Thing More Intimate Than Love Is Sharing Books
After my first date with my boyfriend, I lent him a copy of Big Sur by Jack Kerouac to read on a flight out to Mississippi. Big Sur is easily my favorite Kerouac, and probably one of my top 10 books ever, so lending him my personal copy was, to me, a pretty intimate gesture. My copy was also a holdover from my college days, meaning that it was marked up with a bunch of notes I made for a big paper, as well markings to make it easy to find my favorite lines. I really, really liked this book, and was excited to hear what he thought about it. Within a a few hours of his leaving, I received a novel-length text message from him, which boiled down to this: He had lost my book at the airport.
And then I broke up with him.
Just kidding. I accepted his profuse and slightly panicked apologies, he bought me a new copy, and then everything was fine. (And he was rightly panicked, because my books are MY PRECIOUS and I have a Gollum-like devotion to them.) And, believe it or not, I never stopped lending him books.
Sharing my books with someone is like sharing a piece of me. I put a lot of thought into what books I lend out, especially if I'm dating you. Sharing books with a significant other can be deeply personal and can bring you two closer together. It's like revealing yourselves one puzzle piece at a time.
Obviously I can't tell you exactly what books are best shared with your SO since it should vary on a person by person basis (although there are a few titles I think may be a universally good idea to share), but I think certain types of books can be more revealing than others. I would love to share these books with my boyfriend, if only to begin to try to explain what makes up the person that I am. Plus, how absurdly sexy is it to see the person you're most attracted to snuggled up with your favorite story?
Whatever Jane Austen Novel You Most Strong Identify With
I'm not the world's biggest Austen fan, but even I'll acknowledge that she knows what she's doing, romance-wise. She thinks up some pretty swoon-able characters that your SO could learn from. Pick your personal flavor of Austen and pass it along to your guy/girl. Personally, my choice here would be Emma, because I need a guy willing to stand up to me when my control freak tendencies come out, but you do you.
Your Favorite Childhood Novel
Somewhere beneath our hardened, cynical adult exteriors lies the child we once were. Embrace your inner child and lend your SO your favorite book as a kid. I think what your favorite book from childhood was can say a lot about you now. For instance, as a Peter Pan fan, I am an imaginative anglophile who is being dragged kicking and screaming into the adult world. See! It works!
Much Ado About Nothing
A must because (1) It is a universally acknowledged fact that it's extremely hot when you see someone attractive to you read Shakespeare; and (2) because Beautrice and Benedick should be every couple's #relationshipgoal. A little snark, if it's playful, can be a great addition to any relationship, and Benedick and Beautrice's flirty fights and insults are, in my opinion, very hot. Just reassure your partner that you won't insist that they murder anyone to prove their love for you. Not cool.
A Collection by Your Favorite Poet
We all get a little sappy sometimes, and occasionally we have grand, delusional daydreams about our SO taking us into a field of flowers, reciting our favorite poems to us, and throwing us onto a unicorn and riding off into the sunset. The last part may be a stretch, but there's no reason that s/he can't take a bit of a romantic leap and read a few of our favorite poems.
A Book That Makes You Cry
Big Sur is the only book that has brought me to tears every time I read it. There's something very personal about a book that can make you cry. It's like a little peek into your psych. It may seem a little scary to reveal this part of yourself to someone, but it should also mean a lot to your SO that you're willing to show him or her something that makes you feel vulnerable.
The Harry Potter Books. All of Them.
Feel free to replace this with whatever series you fangirl the hardest over, but for a lot of us it's probably good ol' HP. Let's face it, if you aren't familiar with Harry Potter, you probably won't understand half of my jokes and references. And a relationship can't be built on 50 percent, right? So do us both a favor and read the books. AND DON'T TRY TO WATCH THE MOVIES INSTEAD. I'll know, and I won't be able to trust you anymore.
Your Favorite Feminist Text
This one is might be more focused on heterosexual couples, although you may need to give your girlfriend a lesson on feminism, depending on her beliefs or upbringing. I personally talk about my feminist viewpoints with my boyfriend a lot, but I don't always feel like I do the best job of explaining them. Asking your SO to read some feminist texts may make this easier. You don't need to ask them to dive into Cixous, but maybe giving them something like Susan J. Douglas's work may start some discussion.
50 Shades of Grey
HOLD ON THERE, JUDGEY PANTS. I'm not telling you to read 50 Shades because I think it's a good novel, or that Anastasia and Christian are good couple role models, or because it accurately portrays a healthy BDSM relationship (all of these things are a resounding no). Think of it as a teachable moment, a way of easing into a frank and open discussion about sex. Was anything about the novel arousing to you? Do you think you may be interested in trying any of the sex games discussed? If not, what was off-putting about the novel (either in their relationship or in regards to the actual sex)? It's not easy for every couple to be honest about their sexual likes and dislikes, and if nothing else 50 Shades has given us a way of addressing aspects of our sexuality that we may have been shy about, even if the novel itself can be super-problematic.
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