For those of you who are like me – woefully single – the search is frantically on for a date for New Year’s Eve. With just about three weeks before the midnight countdown, there’s not a whole lot of time. Factor in the weekend of Christmas, which is bound to be family-only time, and it’s more like two weeks. Closer than you thought, right?
You might get lucky and meet someone at one of the multitude of holiday parties happening this month, someone whom you’ll be able to hang out with and get tipsy on champagne with and maybe kiss at midnight, but you might want to hedge your bets. How? Well, forget the online dating sites. Everyone is looking for a date for NYE, but the desperation factor is so high that you’ll likely both be expecting a lot from each other and you’re only setting yourself up to be disappointed. You could celebrate NYE with a friend, but that might make the kiss-at-midnight part slightly awkward and could lead to drama that you probably don’t want any part of.
What does any of this have to do with books, you ask? Am I leading up to a list of books you can curl up with on December 31st instead of a cute date? Nope, even I’m not that sad and bitter yet. One of the consequences of increased ereader use is that no longer can we secretly scope out what book that guy or girl across Starbucks is so engrossed in. We can’t glimpse a cover on the subway and use it as an excuse to make small talk. No more outright judging someone based on the pages they’re flipping, and deciding they’re either hotter or uglier. (Don’t deny…taste in books totally affects hotness level.)
I’ve had many a conversation about how I can’t imagine dating someone seriously that isn’t a reader – still can’t – but this is not a post about finding someone to date seriously. We’re talking about finding a New Year’s date, which is a whole different ballgame. Presumably, you’d like to spend a few hours with someone you have something in common with. So I’m going to help you out a little bit.
If you’re looking for a fellow skinny-jean, thick-frame-glasses wearing hipster, you should read in public:
Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace. The ultimate in I-was-reading-DFW-before-anyone-else, Infinite Jest plays to all those hipster stereotypes: pretension about inexplicably cool stuff, chief among them. Even if you’ve read Infinite Jest, you probably don’t have any idea what all the subplots and symbolism mean, giving your little hipster heart something to swell over. Plus it keeps you from having to actually read Ulysses to sound smarter than you are.
Also try: Any of the Best American Nonrequired Reading collections, edited by Dave Eggers
There is No Year by Blake Butler
If you’re a hopeless romantic, looking for the Darcy to your Elizabeth (besides the obvious Pride and Prejudice), you should read in public:
The Princess Bride by William Goldman. No matter who you are or what kind of date you’re looking for, Goldman’s classic fairytale romance will appeal to men and women alike who are always hoping for a happy ending. Plus, you’ll be able to compare book vs. movie and quote lines to each other all night. A well-placed “My name is Indigo Montoya” can save nearly any bad date.
Also try: Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
If you feel lost without your iPhone/iPad/MacBook and you’re looking for a fellow member of the Apple cult to geek out with until midnight, you should read in public:
Steve Jobs by Walter Issacson. This is kind of a gimme, but I know lots of people that can have hours-long conversations about their Mac products (I may or may not be one of them), so you know you’ll have so much to talk about, comparing versions of iPhones and rhapsodizing about Jobs’ contribution to the world, that you might forget to check your New Year’s Blowout Horn! countdown app.
Also try: In the Plex: How Google Thinks, Works, and Shapes Our Lives by Steven Levy
Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
If you’d rather be bouldering a gnarly V8 wall or battling a class 4 rapid and you’re looking for someone with matching year-round Teva tan lines to compare snowboarding runs, you should read in public:
Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer. Though more well-known for his tale of a kid who disappears from his life and wanders the country on his way to Alaska, Krakauer’s narrative of his own experience in the middle of a murderous storm on the face of Everest combines all the elements of a good adventure book. Perfect to attract your fellow adrenaline junkie.
Also try: The Last Season by Eric Blehm
The Terror by Dan Simmons
If you spent your Christmas/Hanukkah rolling your eyes while your mother wrung her hands because you’re a lapsed Catholic/Jew and you’re looking for a similarly apathetic soul to commiserate with over the midnight Mass or Temple service you were forced to attend, you should read:
Lamb by Christopher Moore. Hilarious re-telling of the life of Jesus, told from the point of view of his best friend Biff, Moore’s novel is less than reverent, but if you prefer Santa and his reindeer over the nativity for your holiday kitsch, this is the perfect antidote to an overly spiritual holiday season.
Also try: The Last Testament: A Memoir by God by God (duh)
The Year of Living Biblically: One Man’s Humble Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possible by A.J. Jacobs