The only serious romantic relationship I’ve ever had was built on a strong foundation of book recommendations. I can trace a through line from the development of our friendship to an innocent flirtation to falling in love with the books that we shared. To this day, I still sometimes think of him when I’m reading something new that reaches deep inside of me and tugs at my sense of familiarity and truth.
We met at work and initially bonded over casual conversations about books and art at lunchtime. The first present he ever gave me was a book, Texts from Jane Eyre. A light, silly book but one that was already tied to an inside joke we had. On one of our first real dates, we went to his favorite local bookstore. I remember reading many love stories during this time. I’d inevitably find a way to relate my budding feelings to those of the characters in the novel. When I was finished, I’d then pass the books along, kind of novel-length love letter.
There was something so special about being able to share these internal worlds with another person. It also didn’t hurt that we had similar but different tastes in books, so that we could keep it interesting. It felt comforting that even when we couldn’t be together, we were connected by the lives of these other characters. And then when we did hang out, we would debate the content of the novels, vigorously sharing our opinions on everything from the writing style to the main characters’ choices to the final conclusion.
While this relationship stands out most clearly as one that was built partially on our mutual love of books, it is certainly not the only one. Many of my formative friendships growing up were with fellow bookworms. We’d spend hours hanging out in the local library or bookstore, trading books back and forth and joining competitive book reading teams. Reading was also something I share with my dad, one of the few things we have in common. While he tends to read biographies and true crime books, and I’ve always been more dedicated to fiction of all kinds, we have always enjoyed telling each other about the books we are currently reading.
There’s a strength to these book-based relationships that I struggle to find with friends who don’t share this passion with me. You can learn so much about someone based on the types of books they read and how they connect to them. It’s why I can never see myself dating someone who doesn’t love to read. Not only because it’s something I love, and that brings me joy and I can’t comprehend why anyone wouldn’t love to read, but because I think that reading is one of my love languages. It allows you to share not just one life with someone, not just one world, but a never-ending series of worlds that spill out before you. They live on the page, but also within you and between you. You can create a totally different kind of intimacy, one that grows and expands with each new addition.
I’ve started cultivating this more in my adult friendships as well. While I have plenty of great friends who don’t share my avaricious passion for reading and recommending books, there’s nothing quite like my book friends.