8th December, 2020

Bookish Stuff: When your partner becomes your reading buddy

I met my husband at uni when we were both working towards a PhD and part of the attraction between us was obviously also a mutual love for literature. We are both teaching English lit, and we both have a vast interest in all things literary. Our personal reading tastes, however, are somewhat different. He loves to read biographies, historical non-fiction and poetry. I prefer literary fiction, a bit of fantasy and the occasional romcom. Occasionally, however, our tastes overlap and we'll find a book we are both interested in. In years past this was Ian McEwan's Atonement and Audrey Niffenegger's The Time Traveler's Wife - both of which we eventually even spun into academic articles. Why not combine work and fun, right?

Right before the pandemic started, I tried to get him to read The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern - a novel that I had enjoyed tremendously. He wanted to, but then Covid happened and life got in the way: teaching had to be switched to remote in a matter of weeks, admin took forever to adjust to people working from home and made lots of normally easy processes a living hell, etc. To cut a long story short, work became a bit overbearing. 

Recently then we started talking about the new Dune movie that is coming out next year, and my husband was mortified to learn that I had a) neither read any of the books nor b) seen the old film or the mini series. To put it into a cheesy outdated metaphor: I was a total Dune virgin. He then said that one of his best friends was planning on rereading the book before the film comes out, and - caution: another lame metaphor coming up - an idea war born. I suggested reading the book together. So I ordered two copies at our local indie because the two of us decided we don't want to fight over one single copy when we both want to read at the same time but are in different sections of the story. Bookworm problems 101, I know. And thus, we turned this month into #Dunecember.

So what are my thoughts on the book? After a few difficulties of getting into the story because of a gazillion names and complicated political dynamics in the plot, I'm finding myself enjoying the book more and more. It's kind of Game-of-Thronesy and I love the intrigues and mix of action and rhetorical perfection. I am not sure I am going to read the sequels as I've heard they are not as good as part one, but I am now really looking forward to the release date of the movie while being glad that I let the story develop in my imagination first before overloading my brain with film images. As for reading a book together and talking about it - I think this can bring so much additional joy to the normally lonely process of reading. I wouldn't want to do it with every single book but from time to time I do enjoy a read along or buddy read. The ones I've participated in online were wonderful, but sitting together on the couch in the evening and chatting about the chapters you just read is even more amazing. Like your own mini book club, in a way. I'm wondering which book we are going to tackle together next and when that will be. It's lovely to have another reader so close to you, and I'm already fantasising about the times we can have a family read along together with our son. :-)

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