Monday, March 31, 2008

Book Clubs

Essay About Love and Literary Tastes - Rachel Donadio @ NYT

I have a rather diverse reading history, more so than most well-read people because my interests vary so much. So I don't often expect the women I date to have the same tastes as I do, much less having heard of the books I've read. Still, there are some common books that are the 'make or break' type for me. Atlas Shrugged is one of those books and while I have read it (except for the fifty page speech by Galt near the end) I was a devotee for all of five minutes. I could go on a rant about Rand and her silly notions of objectivity or her terrible, long-winded writing style but that misses the point of this post. For the well-read what you have read is important but equally important is how what you have read has influenced you. Seeing a copy of The Unbearable Lightness of Being isn't necessarily a bad thing, but I took away a different interpretation than most others based on my readings of Nietzsche and nationalism. The same goes for Camus' The Rebel, a book few have read but one that I think is critical to understanding some of the modern problems in the world.
For the most part, there are few books that are the 'make or break' type for me. It's how attached that person is to that book that concerns me. Someone who finds Maybe He's Just Not That Into You an inspirational book obviously hasn't read enough while someone who finds Neil Gaiman to fantasy-oriented has read a good deal and holds an aversion to anything that smacks of the fantastic. I wouldn't expect someone to have read Invisible Cities or The Master and Margarita but I would expect some knowledge of authors like Sarte, Camus, and Kafka, even if they hadn't read anything by them. And when it comes to non-fiction, the field widens even more. So literary tastes do matter to a degree, as much as music tastes do. And whether someone has a fetish for Dan Brown or a serious interest in Italo Calvino are not the only factors one should use when determining whether a relationship is viable or not. Still, it is an indicator of who that person is and how they see the world.

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