The Sunday Times included an essay on how certain books can be major turnoffs while dating, and already 162 people have posted their own "literary dealbreakers" to an nytimes.com blog post. There's also a follow up blog post, a follow-up column and of course blogger reaction (former Gawker Emily Gould has two posts up so far). Consensus turnoffs include anything by Ayn Rand (huge among business executives, in my experience), Da Vinci Code, Bridges of Madison County and the Harry Potter series. Also, no one seems to be making allowances for gifts from parents and friends and, hello, book sales, which might be the only reason some of us have David Guterson, Barack Obama, James Frey and, uh, maybe Imus on our shelves, OK? Not that there's any need to be defensive; listening to other people try and justify their literary chauvinism tends to be more entertaining than threatening, especially if they're strangers. After the jump, some of the best posts, and some of the most insane posts, from the Times' literary turnoffs discussion thread.
Anyone for math books? When I go to a bookstore that's the shelf I'm interested in. Is there any female reading this who is sympathetic to such a person? Unfortunately, I can guess the answer to that question.
- Posted by Mathematician
Once I brought a girl home to see my apartment, and, a couple of steps inside the door, she said, "What are you doing with all these books?" One year later, I was sorry I didn't end things right there.
- Posted by Pale Ramón
the Beats, especially Jack Kerouac. Not only does he have bad taste but he will justify cheating on you philosophically.
- Posted by Abby
I DESPISE Mitch Albom!!
- Posted by stephanie
If you really want to talk about the type of liturature that is an indicator of a persons intellectual curiosity, extending to the concepts of Multiverses and Deep Time, there is SCIENCE FICTION. If you talk about "life changing" all astronauts, cosmonauts, and even taikonauts will cite being familiar with the writings of the late Arthur C. Clarke as will many others in Science and AeroSpace. Alvin Toffler said SCIENCE FICTION is your best insulator aginst "Future Shock" as we plunge headlong into a life-changing FUTURE where the aforementioned books are useless and trivial. To a great degree many of those titles are a tribute to the psychological mastery of the principles of mass marketing to which many oommenters here are obvious victims.
- Posted by Doug C.
During an online dating phase, I discovered that anyone who named "The Alchemist" as his favorite book was basically revealing that he was a sensitive stoner-to be avoided at all costs.[snip]
- Posted by Kim
malcolm gladwell is an immediate dealbreaker, even for friendship. as is thomas friedman–sorry nytimes.
- Posted by snot?
All enthusiasm for middle and low-brow stuff is a dealbreaker, since books that merely entertain, as opposed to expand consciousness, are, well… a waste of time (and yes, I mean you, Stephen King, Harry Potter, and all your legions.) But otherwise, if she's a serious literary reader, as I am, then I think things have a chance, as long as there is some overlap in the things we like and… love (but of course such book compatibility is hardly sufficient for a successful pairing.) There's plenty of good stuff out there (most of it not contemporary), and I'm happy to hear a different perspective on books, as long as it's informed and understanding. My own literary love is for Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, Kafka, Woolf, Faulkner, Cormac McCarthy, and DeLillo (oh, how beautiful "Underworld" is, despite its flaws, how I've loved that book as much as any woman over the past ten years…), but as I always hope to continue to grow in my understanding of literature, I am eager to have a very intelligent woman tell me about her own ideas about books. Usually the exchange is entirely quickening, though not always, well… successful. Unfortunately, we live in an age that is becoming less and less literary, where literary studies themselves are cheapened, if not destroyed, at the college-level by the overemphasis on gender and cultural politics. And come to think of it, a woman who privileges literary theory over the literary would probably be a dealbreaker for me, for such a stance is a dealbreaker for life itself. (I would say, by the way, that if you like literature, and especially if you love literature, you should not go to graduate school, that miasma of theory and pretension.) I wonder how much literary theory might figure in some people's serious reading, and how it might affect the respective relationship potentials…
So, she just has to be a genuinely smart literary reader, and preferably… a writer, one of necessary fiction. But alas… how many such potentials are there out there?
- Posted by "Hulga frère" in rural MD
I'm a huge book snob, but it's a devotion to the overpraised middle ground, the NPR and Oprah-approved canon that would turn me off a person.
Give me a lover of James Patterson and Nora Roberts any day over someone who thinks Lethem and Safran Foer are geniuses. Who likes a striver?
The sight of a woman reading Javier Marias, Robert Musil, Frank O'Hara or just about any of the NYRB titles and I'm immediately smitten.
- Posted by matt king
My dating philosophy is simple when it comes to books. If you don't like ‘To Kill a Mockingbird', I don't like you.
- Posted by JLAdam
People who reject others for reading a particular book have either:
1) read the book themselves to merit their rejection of its content, in which case they are hyppocrites for dumping other readers of the same book
2) demonstrated dishonesty and sterotype by dumping someone based on a book they have never read themselves and of which they cannot, with integrity, state what they object about it.
- Posted by Student