The 4 Kinds of Relationships Readers Have with Books
People think I’m ridiculous when I tell them I have certain relationships with books, and that those relationships dictate how I read those books.
Why don’t you just finish one book before you pick up another?
That book was terrible, how could you finish that one and not this one? And how could you LIKE it?
And so on. I can’t finish a book until I’m in a relationship with it. If I’m not feeling a connection to the book, one of the characters/the setting/something about the plot, I’m going to put it into rotation (and eventually back on the shelf if it doesn’t step up). However, if I find one thing, one thing, about a book that bonds me to it – I won’t let it go. But this happens so rarely that it seems to those around me that I am constantly not committing to one book… and this would be the truth.
So, I’m left to wonder. Are our relationships with books similar to relationships with people? I look around and can’t help but think there might be something to this…
Surfacey Relationship People
These are the people who know a LOT of other people and are “great” friends with them all. Ask them something deep or quite personal about one of those dear friends and they will often not have the answer. These people don’t tend to have a lot of time for reading, they are too busy socializing (and by socializing I mean hanging out with Honey Boo Boo and Kim Kardashian too). Ask them who David Foster Wallace is and they probably won’t have the answer either… Sophie Kinsella and Dan Brown? Probably…. they’re reading one of their books over the summer. The entire summer.
These are the people who jump from long-term romantic relationship to long-term romantic relationship. They also jump from one long book to the next. The book they are reading is usually a project, usually on their nightstands for some time, and usually something “important.” They don’t give up (they wouldn’t dream of it), and when they know it’s coming close to the ending, they’ve already researched and planned which book will be next on the nightstand. No empty nightstands (or beds) for these people.
These are the people who are in committed long-term relationships and probably have a few kids. They’ve settled down, they’ve got their groove. They know which books they like and they stick with them, why change? And if something new is introduced to their palate, they’ll eventually (when they have time) try to juggle it in and then feel ecstatic that they have something new and fresh in their lives. Did you know about this?! They’ll exclaim to their friends who have more time on their hands than they do. Yes, those friends will answer, it came out eight months ago and the entire Internet/Night Show Circuit/Bestseller Lists was blowing up about it. (Rinse and repeat eight months later.)
Commitment Phobic People
These are the people who don’t tend to like everyone they meet. They date sporadically because most people don’t entice them, but they have a series of crushes to get them through day-to-day life. Then, randomly they’ll meet someone and be hooked. Same goes for books, these are the people who start books and stop them like other people use chewing gum. Sometimes they come back to try them again – see if they’re a better fit, and then move on again. Then one day they find something that hooks them and doesn’t let them go and they can’t-stop-reading. Once that book is done they look wildly around for another to make them feel as wonderful as the last, but we all know they’ll get back into the cycle of reading a few pages of one, then a few pages of another…
Because these statements are statistically tested, there is no reason to argue with them. They are black and white and as solid of assessments as can be in the book reading world. Of course, there are no other types of readers (or relationships) and every single person fits precisely into one of the above categories. However, if we were to imagine that these previous statements weren’t true, and/or that this piece is entirely sarcastic, what types of readers and relationships have I missed exploring? Write your own Type of Relationship and synopsis below…
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