I’ve been fortunate to have loved a few boys who adored reading. Whether for entertainment or purely educational purposes, it would be rare to find them without a dog-eared paperback in their car or backpack. And though those relationships have — ahem — ended, the book knowledge they imparted lives on.
Like any devoted bibliophile, they would often try to convince me to pick up their favorite books. Some of them I will admit to actually enjoying! And some I read about twenty pages of and promptly decided they were going to put me in a coma.
But the overall experience of spending time with a book they considered important was in some way valuable — just like the relationships themselves! Sure, there’s a lesson to be learned in everything.
Now, before I go any further — if any of my past boyfriends happen to stumble across this post, I hope they won’t take offense to my thoughts (and occasional gentle ribbing). I don’t harbor hard feelings, and I appreciated their bookish tendencies! This is merely an exploration of the books shoved into my hands over the years. I hope they know I wish them well! Well — most of them, anyway. 🙂
Books Boys Tried To Convince Me To Read
(Some With Success; Some With Utter Failure)
|Korgi by Christian Slade
Oh, the first of the many graphic novels a boyfriend convinced me to read! Korgi is the story of a young girl named Ivy and her — yes, you guessed it! — pet corgi named Sprout. They live in a world called Korgi Hollow and life is great up until the time when all these insects and monster things threaten the pair of them. Sprout is there to save the day, of course!
I have to admit to liking this one. I have a not-so-secret obsession with corgis, which is what Boyfriend knew, so he picked this one up for me.
And I have to admit that as much as I’m loathe to admit it, just typing this has made me feel sad about him! He so shared my love of books — it was ridiculous. If only we’d shared thoughts about many other things. But moving right along . . .
|Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert Pirsig
This classic, originally published in 1974, has garnered some seriously glowing comments. One reviewer on Amazon called it “the most influential book in my life beyond the Bible.” I mean, whoa. A very sweet, awesome guy who would eventually become my boyfriend recommended it on our first real date, and I couldn’t have been more eager to pick it up!
Except . . . it was all downhill from there. No matter how much I wanted to like it, there was a total disconnect for me. I’m wondering if I tried to become engrossed now, at 24, I’d dig it more than I did at 20. I’m thinking the answer could be yes. I might return and see if I can find my own Zen one of these days.
|The Catcher In The Rye by J.D. Salinger
Ah, Holden Caulfield — anti-hero to the masses! As at countless other high schools across our great nation, The Catcher In The Rye was mandatory reading during my formative years — just for the grade-level above me. One of the boys I idolized and would later “date” (I use this term quite innocently) once told me this was his favorite book, and that was all the prompting I needed to grab my own copy when I was around sixteen.
I remember devouring it quickly, somewhat shocked by the content. I wasn’t any literary innocent, but the cynicism and wonder of New York through Holden’s eyes was a little bit strange. I don’t remember much of the plot now; in fact, I recently gave the copy I’d had on my dresser since high school away. I guess it’s just one of those books that faded into oblivion for me.
|Maus I: A Survivor’s Tale: My Father Bleeds History by Art Spiegelman
Spiegelman’s classic graphic novel depicting his parents’ horrific experiences in the Holocaust is a profoundly moving take on World War II. The same comic-loving boyfriend made sure I was exposed to this one, knowing as he did my love of history and reading. I was shocked to find myself in tears by the end of it, and many of the book’s images have stayed with me in the years since I finished it.
|On The Road by Jack Kerouac
Another modern classic handed to me in high school! I tried unsuccessfully to read it at the same recommendation of the high school boyfriend, but couldn’t begin to process Kerouac’s “fictional” look at a group of friends making a cross-country journey toward . . . something. Enlightenment? Freedom? Youth? Happiness?
I gave the unread copy I had away only to purchase another one last spring. A coworker and I were talking about the “modern classics” — those books everyone claims to have read, but probably haven’t. We were both surprised to find On The Road on that list of books we’ve always wanted to read but haven’t — and, I’m sorry to say, I can still count it in that category. My hardcover has been sitting on a bookshelf gathering dust. I’m still interested to read about Sal Paradise and his motley crew of lovers, travelers and dreamers . . . and just might find myself in the mood for it soon.
|Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee: An Indian History of the American West by Dee Brown
Okay, I’m cheating a bit with this one — because the guy who suggested it was never technically my boyfriend (I just desperately wanted him to be). My raging high school crush brought everything he said, did and enjoyed into laser-sharp focus, and it’s impossible for me to forget the image of him hunched over after school with Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee clutched in his hands. While the rest of us were barely getting through our required reading, here he was reading something serious and historical and important. Needless to say, he seemed light-years above all the other knuckle-headed boys I knew!
The image of him with the book, and his tiny smile when I asked him what he was reading, is such a solid, visceral recollection that, years later, I would find myself running my fingers across a copy of the book in our history section at the bookstore where I worked. That dusty copy brought the memory close to me, fragile and personal.
|Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card
I have to admit that I was totally into this one — until I suddenly just wasn’t. I started it around May or June, read about sixty pages and promptly put it aside to grab some chick lit! It’s not my usual fare at all, and sometimes I’m willing to branch out . . . but after the boyfriend who suggested it and I broke up, I considered my casting it aside as an act of rebellion against the entire relationship! And I feel good about that.