When I tell you that I love books, I am making a massive understatement. Good books are my indulgence. Words are the most powerful tool we humans will ever wield. When I read something that entertains me or resonates with me in some way I am submerged within its pages—forget responsibilities, a social life, or even a legitimate conversation until I’m done. Then, after I finish reading, I have this undying urge to think about the book, to talk about it, to watch the movie adaptation if it exists, and to incorporate aspects of it into my everyday life. You could say I’m obsessed, and I guess to an outsider, that is how it might appear. However, I am a reader, and that is just my lifestyle.
If you want to date a reader, you should understand up front that “obsessing” over books is just the reader’s way. Figuring them out is not going to be easy, but with a little grit and a lot of tolerance, it will be one of the most rewarding relationships you ever have. A reader will teach you to look beneath the surface, to think outside the box. They will help you to feel everything more deeply, and with purpose. They will open your eyes to new ideas, share with you new experiences. Most importantly, they will make you appreciate the work that goes into turning a good idea into a 75,000-word, meaningful novel. You deserve all these things, I know you do, but you’ll need to prove it to them. If you’re not sure how, here’s a little cheat sheet:
1. Humor them. They will call you after reading a particularly inspiring or tragic scene and want to tell you about it. They will go on for what will probably seem like eons talking in circles about a universe you do not understand. They will cry to you as they mourn the loss of their favorite character, try to decode the significance of a certain motif, or chattily admire the book’s syntax. You will be confused, annoyed, exasperated, or combination of the three, but you will listen. You will listen, and listen respectfully. Try to turn the one-sided retelling into a conversation by being attentive and asking questions. That way, they’ll see that you take an interest in their thoughts. They will feel like you get them, and it will make them happy.
2. Support them. Escort them to the bookstore, the book signing, and the release party. Buy two tickets to the midnight premiere of their favorite book’s movie adaptation. Tolerate their obsessing in public and in private. Appreciate their replica time turner and Mockingjay pin—they cherish them. Accept that they love Mr. Darcy or Elizabeth, but that love exists separately from the love they feel for you. Don’t be embarrassed when you see their doodling lines from “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” on their notebook. Embrace their large book collection, and make it even larger by adding to it yourself. They will get excited if they find an early edition in a random secondhand bookshop; buy it for them. Read their fan fiction, if they write any. Read anything they write at all.
3. Don’t back down. There are times when they will neglect you and give their book the utmost attention. You will get frustrated, and you will feel second best. Wait it out. I promise they’ll come back to you. Let them lay their head on your lap as they read and you watch television.
4. Surprise them. Readers love surprises, because they’ve been exposed to them hundreds of different ways in their books. Be it a grand gesture or a little act of love, carry it out. Open all doors, propose between ten thousand pink peonies, or bring them coffee in bed. They want to feel like their life, their love, could make for an enticing novel. They’ll expect some surprises of the negative kind, too, perhaps even secretly hope for them, because they know that conflict is hidden in every great love story. But don’t worry — if you make a mistake (an honest, I-Never-Meant-For-It-To-Happen mistake), they will forgive you, because they know that even the greatest characters are flawed. They want the two of you to live happily ever after. The stories they read are not boring, so they don’t want theirs to be, either.
5. Inspire them. Yours should be the greatest story they’ve ever heard; let it inspire their writing. They’ll think up happy poems, post quotes about love to social media, or maybe even pen the next great American novel — all because they feel like they can, because you gave them the courage. Let it inspire their life. If you love them right, it will be reflected in everything they do. One day, they might even put the book down in favor of you: That is the reader’s greatest expression of love.