It’s exciting and nerve-wracking. Your heart races in the beginning as you anticipate what will come next. You giggle with glee and tell your friends about your new love. You’re up for having fun, but you would welcome it if you found one that changes your life forever.
I’m talking about dating and reading books. Believe it or not, they are more alike than you think.
1. Love At First Sight
As much as we’d like to think we aren’t superficial, we are sometimes immediately attracted to certain people . . . and to certain books. A beautifully or cleverly designed book cover can capture readers’ attention and practically beg to be read. Obviously, the content of the book or person has to be substantial enough for a relationship to develop and continue, but you can’t deny that attraction in both cases is real.
2. Break The Ice
In every first date as well as every introduction to a book, you have to break the ice or become acquainted with the character you will be spending time with. Some introductions are more awkward than others, and some captivate you from the first words. Some characters take awhile to get to know, because they require describing the alternate world they live in or they have a complex back story. Either way, the point of an introduction is to familiarize yourself with a new person or book, perhaps one who will become very dear to you.
Sometimes after the first date, you realize that you aren’t compatible, and you part ways. With books, sometimes you either stop reading or finish the book but don’t feel like revisiting it again. And that’s okay.
3. Blind Dates And Speed Dating
You don’t see them before the date starts. You dive right in with relatively minimal information and a recommendation from a friend, who may become a former friend if things go horribly wrong. Such is the situation with blind dates, and the same can happen with books.
Some local libraries have tried “blind dates” with books, covering books and providing minimal information about plot and genre to pique readers’ interest. But more importantly, book blind dates may help people avoid literally judging a book by its cover and encourage them to take a chance that their blind date could work out really well.
Other school libraries are trying book speed dating, where students can weed out which books have “bad breath” or “weird habits.” As in dating, you have to kiss a few book frogs to find your book prince.
When you realize that you like being around someone, you want to keep seeing them. When you find a book you like, you want to revisit it over and over again. You see the characters as real people, people you know intimately. You form relationships with these fictional characters, even if it is one sided.
Real people can disappoint and hurt you. Surprisingly, book characters can hurt you as well, or rather their authors can. Who didn’t feel absolutely devastated when Dumbledore died in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince? (Sorry if you didn’t know, but you’ve had plenty of time to read it and the entire world was talking about the series!) We feel agony over bad decisions our beloved characters make. We scream as bad things happen to them or they don’t succeed. We feel their pain deeply and wish we could help them.
In meaningful relationships with people you love, you forgive mistakes and keep on progressing together. In relationships with books, sometimes you can move on, forgive the author for being so cruel to you and the characters, and continue reading. Most of the time, enduring the pain is so worth the effort to get to the sweet and happy.
Heartbreak is hard, no matter the source.
At some point, you come across a book and its characters for which your admiration and relationship runs so deep that you can’t imagine life without them. Welcome to love. It’s real, people. We’re called book lovers for reason! It doesn’t matter how many times you read the books you love, you still squeal with excitement or notice something new. I can’t tell you how many times I played MASH using fictional characters, daydreamed of friendships or relationships with characters, and prayed that I’d find versions of book characters in real life.
Books you truly love stay with you for a lifetime. Nothing can taint that love, not even a poorly made movie version.
Just like with real love, you can’t explain book love to someone who hasn’t felt it. And you tend to pity those who haven’t felt it. They are legitimately missing out on something special.
Did I forget any similarities between dating and reading books?
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Featured image via Pucker Mob