Kathy finished her book over the weekend. She reads fantasy, although she likes to refer to them as "books about magic, elves, and dwarfs" because she doesn't like the sound of "fantasy" as a genre. She also reads the occasional popular fiction (think Bridget Jones' Diary or Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood).
I, on the other hand, prefer books about "sad women," as someone once said to me. But I like to think I have rather broader literary tastes than that. I have also read some of her fantasy novels (my favorites are by Guy Gavreil Kay) as well as a myriad of other books. But it is true that when the choice is up to me, I prefer books about sad women.
Anyway, when Kathy finished her book Sunday afternoon, she observed it aloud. "I don't have a book to read." I did not comment. I wasn't sure what to do with the announcement. Later in the day, she said it again. Finally, she said, "Can I read one of yours?"
"Oh," I replied. "Of course. Let me help you pick." Then we stood in front of the bookshelf in extended silence. "Maybe this one?" I suggested. She read the back. "HEART WRENCHING? I don't think so." "Hm," I said, picking up another book. "Maybe this one?" She read the back of that one, too. "I don't want to read interesting social commentary. And you read this for a CLASS." Crap. I should have peeled the "ENG 379" sticker off the back before giving it to her.
She wandered into the office, while I stared at the shelf trying to find a book that was not sad and did not contain any social commentary. Do such books even exist? Then she wandered out with a book that our nanny had given us that I had never read. "I think I'll read this one," she said. "What?" I asked, "Why?"
"I don't know," she replied. "Because it looks good?" I, very maturely, stomped off into the living room. "Why are you irritated?" she asked innocently.
"Because," I answered, "you never want to read the books I suggest. I don't know why you waste my time standing in front of the stupid bookshelf when you never even try the books I like." I don't really know why this is so important to me, but it is. She still looked like she didn't understand. After about 10 minutes of me wailing, "WHY DON'T YOU READ MY BOOKS?!" and her continued confusion, she had to go run an errand.
Before she left, I said, "You know what? I can't help it if you are going to miss out on a world of literature and a lifetime of interesting conversation with me." And we both cracked up. Because really, we are in a relationship, not a book club. If she wants to waste her time re-reading The Hobbit, who am I to argue?
Photo via here.