There’s nothing quite like the bond of reading and rehashing a book — even a terrible one. Unfortunately, my husband and I aren’t usually on the same page in our personal reading lives. He likes dense books and technical nonfiction, classics and sweeping five-hundred page narratives. He’s been begging me to read a fantasy trilogy for years that I just can’t work up the interest in. I love character-driven modern novels about relationships, different cultures and lifestyles, and self-discovery. I don’t even bother suggesting my favorite books anymore — though I did buy him Trevor Noah’s Born a Crime for Christmas and got him to love it.
The one book I did read on his recommendation was one of his childhood favorites — River Boy, by Tim Bowler. It was not my cup of tea (even though it should have been, being a moody narrative about loss and growing up), but what kept me reading was trying to figure out why this was my husband’s cup of tea. What did middle-school-aged husband see in this story that kept him coming back again?
It’s a unique sort of intimacy, reading your spouse’s childhood favorites, getting a peek at who they were as a kid, and what that might say about them now.
So we started reading our favorites — together. Fortunately, I love reading aloud, and my husband loves being read to. Children’s literature is generally shorter and faster-paced than our adult favorites, making them perfect for those few grown up hours after the toddler goes to bed.
We just finished one of my favorites that I read a million times growing up — Shadow Spinner, by Susan Fletcher, an adventure tale about a girl helping Shahrazad find stories to fill a thousand and one nights. I must have read it during a homeschool history unit on Persia, and the book is filled with lush, sensual descriptions of the bazaar and harem life. I knew my husband would be just as fascinated as I was by this peek into a different time period, culture, and religion.
Now we’re reading Ella Enchanted, by Gail Carson Levine, another book I’ve read to pieces (literally — I need to dig out some spine-reinforcing packing tape!). It’s already made my husband laugh. There’s something amazing about sharing a book I’ve loved for half my life and seeing my spouse experience it for the first time. (Not as amazing: trying to pronounce all the made-up languages I skipped over when reading to myself….)
Lately, our evenings look like my husband working on his Minecraft world while I read a few chapters aloud…until the baby wakes up. That’s our introverted idea of a great date night!