Columns > Published on February 8th, 2016

The 5 Stages Of Realizing Your Lover Is Not A Book Lover

Photo Credit: Vicky Mount (flickr)

The beginning stages of dating are wonderful. I love learning things about my new partner little by little and question by question. Some of my go-to questions are: Do you have siblings, and how close are you to them? Are you adventurous or practical? If you were to get a tattoo right now, what would you get, and where?

More importantly, though, is the question of all questions:

Do you read?

There have been a couple of nightmare situations that have involved the answer to this question being “no,” but for the most part, a respectable gentleman will say “yes.”

Even though he doesn’t appreciate books as much as I do, as long as he appreciates me I’ll keep him around.

Once I hear this glorious YES, I immediately assume the man sitting across from me reads like I read, in that all the time, constantly, always, obsessively, I have too many books and I am drowning in them but drowning never felt so good way. I go through a very specific process from this point forward. 

Here are the five stages of realizing (and accepting) that your lover does not read as much as you do.

1. Lend him 12 books at once

It’s one of my first moves. I ask him what his favorite books are, and then curate a list of books I own for him to borrow and read immediately. The guy is usually a good sport and will pick up one of the books right away and start it, but a few days later when I ask if he’s finished the book, he tells me he hasn’t had a chance to get into it. A week goes by. Another week. The book he started remains in his backpack, its cover folded and pages bent, and the stack of the eleven other books I lent him sags in a heap next to his dirty laundry, and every time I come over I look at the books and wonder if he will ever read them. It's a real blow to my heart, but I soldier on. Maybe there is a better way to unleash his inner book beast.

2. Take him to bookstores and hope the magic wins him over

Bookstores are the best places in the world. Depending on the size and selection, I can and will spend hours in them. When I go on trips to new cities, I plan everything around the parts of town that have great bookstores, and I’m not satisfied until I’ve visited them all (and purchased a book or two from each one). Whenever I enter a new bookstore with my date, I look over at him and await a look of glee, enchantment…or even mild excitement. Anything! What I inevitably get is a confused glance and “So, how long do you need in here? I’m going to go check out the records in the corner over there.” How disheartening! I'm not ready to give up yet, though.

3. Try to get him to read a book with me/join my book club

This is when I get serious. I decide the best way to get my fella to read is by picking out a book and suggesting we read it together. This goes well for a few chapters, but then he starts to slow down and I just want to get to the end! I don’t understand how he could put the book down after Chapter 6, it ended with such an incredible cliffhanger! To take away some of the expectation and pressure, I tell him he should come to my book club sometime, when there is a book that interests him. No pressure. Of course, none of the books interest him, or they’re too long, or he’d really like to finish the one we started together before moving on to the next one…excuses, excuses, excuses. This is when I hit my breaking point.

4. Mentioning books passive aggressively

Nothing I'm trying is working. Could it be possible that he just doesn't enjoy reading the same way I do? He doesn't also sit at work fantasizing about the book on his nightstand at home? When he asks what I want to do tonight, I respond with, “Oh, I’ll probably just read.” Whenever I finish a book, I tell him about how great it was and say it’s a shame he hasn’t also read it so we could talk about it. When he tells me he wants to see a movie, I say, “Oh, the one that’s based on a novel?” I know it’s not healthy, but I can’t help it. I'm being passive aggressive because my literary heart is bleeding.

5. Accepting, but still pushing

Okay, I finally get it. He is not as into books as I am. Not everyone is a literary addict. Okay, okay. It’s still not going to stop me from gifting him books for all special occasions and recommending books I think he’ll really like whenever I think of them. That’s just the kind of lover I am! And even though he doesn’t appreciate books as much as I do, as long as he appreciates me I’ll keep him around. That was what really mattered all along.


It’s hard to realize that your special someone is not also a diehard book lover at first, but once you go through the process of realization and acceptance you’ll find that it’s not everything. Besides, if you were both reading constantly, you wouldn’t have time for each other! Celebrate all of your other similarities, and your differences, too.

Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone!

About the author

Christine J. Schmidt is a writer originally from New Jersey. After receiving her BFA in Dramatic Writing from SUNY Purchase, she worked at Seattle Repertory Theatre as their artistic literary intern. She recently left Brooklyn, where she was a bookseller and events host at WORD, to reside in Los Angeles. She has previously written for New York Theatre Review, and her plays have been read and produced at theaters in New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Georgia, and Washington. Coffee is her favorite thing.

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