In the past, I’ve had relationships we’re I’ve been the only bookworm, and this has resulted in me neglecting that part of me to the point of just not reading anymore. Luckily I’m now dating a proper book-geek, and we’ve found some pretty cool ways to involve each other in the stuff we’re reading. Also, if you’re not dating a big reader, or you’re single, I reckon some of these would work pretty well with bookish friends and housemates, too!
Let’s start with my favourite:
- Reading to your partner
This is a nice way to create a sense of intimacy. Although content is obviously important. I found books like Welcome to Night Vale by Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor, and Hogfather by Terry Pratchett were a really great choice. However, some nights your partner might just be needing a break from whatever it is they’re reading, so you could pick up where they’ve left off in their book.
Though beware- if your partner is into the Fantasy genre (like mine is- be prepared for some weird-ass character/place names that are a little tricky to say).
Some further tips on reading to your partner from fellow Book Rioter Martin Cahill here.
- Read together.
Silence isn’t always awkward. In fact, the ability to be silent together, and just near one another is actually kind of nice. Chuck on a pot of tea, (chamomile and spearmint is my current favourite), maybe some classical music, and just curl up under a blanket together, maybe drag a beanbag outside, or sit in your favourite park with your books.
- Recommending books.
If you’re anything like me, you’re not set in a particular genre, but you’ve got different tastes to your partner. For example, he recommended to me to read The Kingkiller Chronicle by Patrick Rothfuss, which I loved (just write the third book already, man), and I recommended that he read Frankenstein by Mary Shelley, which he also enjoyed. However, you’re not always going to love the same stuff, and recommendations may not go so well. For example, I was recommended Looking for Alaska by John Green, and I wasn’t a huge fan of it, and I recommended my partner read To Kill a Mockingbird, and it didn’t really have as big an impact for him as it did for me. That’s all fine. The best thing is, regardless of feelings about the books recommended, hopefully some awesome discussions/debates will come about.
- Reading the same book at the same time.
I can’t actually think of a time where we’ve done this, but I’m pretty keen to do it, because I’ve heard some pretty funny stories come about with partners and friends who’ve done this. It’s like you’re going through the journey together, though one of you has the tricky task of not giving anything away if the other person isn’t quite up to that same section of the book, but if you know them pretty well, and have a good idea of how they’ll react, it can be a bit entertaining. I’m currently waiting for the perfect book to do this with my partner, I’d say it should be a book that’s either common ground for both of you, or completely out of your comfort zones. Again, hopefully there will be some amazing discussions that come out of it, and you’ll both get the chance to see the book through another person’s eyes, so to speak.
- Sharing podcasts.
At the moment, I’m following some great recommendations on podcasts to listen to. I like the creepy ones, so be sure to check out some great suggestions here. I loved Limetown (and along with everyone else, eagerly waiting for them to resume!!!),
have just started listening to The Black Tapes, however my partner only seems to like Welcome to Night Vale, if you’re into dulcet tones, and a creepy-yet-comfortable storytelling vibe, definitely get amongst this. There’s something nice about listening to creepy stories in the dark with your loved one.
- Writing and work-shopping ideas together.
Sometimes before I put together articles, fiction, or research-oriented stuff, I’ll bounce ideas off my partner, and he’ll do the same with me. I understand this doesn’t necessarily work for everyone, because not everyone writes, but if even if you’re working on something seemingly menial, bouncing ideas off them can be a really great support, I’ve found. This might be a stating-the-obvious kinda deal for some of you, but for those of you like me, who are a bit shit at asking for help, this is a big step to take.
- Editing each other’s work (Approach with caution)
I want to say, if The Wheel of Time’s Robert Jordan and his wife Harriet Dougall can do it and make millions, and be crazy-famous and amazing, why not, huh. However, After reading The Art of Asking by Amanda Palmer, and the turbulent editing journey she went on with her hubby Neil Gaiman, I’d say approach with caution. Prepare for debates/fights of the more creative nature. Having worked as an editor, and occasionally editing my writer-boyfriend’s work, I have to say that we editor-folk tend to be quite heartless when it comes to butchering other people’s work and putting it back together again. So please remember that your partner is exposing their creative belly to you, and if you don’t practice a little bit of gentle critiquing of their work, you might be, as we Aussies like to say, sleeping in the doghouse that night. Also remember: they will expect you to want them to edit your work sometime, so they’ll get their revenge, remember that!
- Share a work-space.
If possible, have a shared space where you both work (but have headphones as an option in case you don’t have the same music tastes). Just like the reading thing, sometimes it’s nice to just be in each other’s company without necessarily yammering on at one another, you know? Plus, it allows perfect opportunity for writing and work-shopping ideas together. However, if your partner is in a procrastinating mood, you need to be clear that you’ve actually got shit to do.
- Hearty debates about books and authors is a wonderful thing.
I friggen love a good debate about books. Especially books that I’ve known for years and have been a little set in my ways about, because I can be such a stubborn person when it comes to changing views of things. Some night, maybe even in your shared study, get some wine/scotch/chamomile and spearmint tea (no really, it is amazing), and maybe order a pizza and have a break from the Netflix binge, and have a big old brain-food binge. You’ll learn so much about your partner, and stretch your brain a little.
- Texting each other quotes.
I had never done this until the early, “courting” stages of my relationship. Having someone send you quotes from the book they’re reading (especially subtly romantic stuff), is a really lovely surprise when you’re stuck at work/university all day. And plus it can get a little bit low-key competitive about who’s sending the best quotes. In my mind, the winner is the one who entices the other to read their book in the end (I’d like to think I’m winning on that forefront, but I’d never tell him that!)
Call it a bonding exercise, giving your relationship an extra dimension, combining your two main loves, or even literary foreplay, I think it’s important to share literary loves with those you love. We get so lost in TV and our computers, sometimes it’s so enjoyable to get just back to the basic pleasures, and it’s always nice to do that with company. Feel free to share any other suggestions that you think I may have missed out. Otherwise, happy reading!