In the early stages of our relationship, my wife and I were fighting to find ways to spend time “together.” You see, we met over the internet, and for the first four months of our relationship all we had were each others’ words, through email and over the telephone wires. So we came up with all kinds of creative ways to “date.” We would schedule cooking times where we would make the same dishes (and I’m sure hers always came out better than mine), work on the same puzzle together, and yes, read the same books and discuss.
I knew she was a librarian, and she knew I was in school for teaching English at the time, so it was a no-brainer, that and the fact that we had both been lifelong readers. The only problem was finding the first book for us to read. She figured that one out pretty quickly, though. In fact, there was a book she was about to read, and she put it on hold in order for me to order it from my local library. It was called A Marriage Made in Heaven, by Vatsala and Ehud Sperling. And the adventure began.
Then the reading began, and the discussion as well. It was interesting reading the same book at the same time, and while sometimes I was ahead of her, and other times behind, it didn’t really matter. It was our “thing,” and it felt so good to pick up that book and read the words on the page. The book was non-fiction, about a woman who is a mail order bride, but she develops a true relationship through letters with the man who “ordered” her, and they fall in love with those letters. It was amazing to see their story progress, and their relationship bloom.
And to talk about it all while we were reading was even better. We were both enjoying the story, also both amazed at the fact that it was true. One thing I love about email is that you can craft your words just like in a letter, and it gave me an idea. Because we had enjoyed an internet/phone only relationship for four months, we must have sent a sheer acre of emails to each other in that time period. So I printed them out, and maybe one day we’ll produce a book similar to the one we read together. It makes me smile.
Then we got another book — H.P. Lovecraft’s collected works — on the suggestion of a friend, and it was so funny that we both, about 50 pages in, pretty much said at the same time that it wasn’t the book for us. Now, we don’t always share the same taste in reading material, so it was funny that neither of us liked the style. So we stopped reading it, preferring instead to choose another book. So, since she found the first one, I came up with book #2.
It was a book on war reenactment in the South, but this time the genre was fiction, and it wasn’t really a book either one of us would have ordinarily read, but we read it and had an enjoyable discussion about it. That was followed by a book about children who were taken and replaced by fairies, and a book about the end of the world, written after 9/11. The books took on new meanings and understandings by sharing them with her, and they kept us connected in more that one way. I am so glad we decided to read together.
And I can’t wait for our next book.