Why should you be looking for books to read with your partner? Why not just read by yourself?
Well, riddle me this. Has this ever happened to you?
You’re reading a new book.
You’re so excited about it because it’s amazing.
So you try and tell someone about it because you’re a generous, selfless person.
But you get frustrated when your explanation of why the book is so great gets convoluted. Your telling of the story gets muddled.
The power of what you’re reading clearly just isn’t coming across to that person.
You can tell they don’t get it. They just smile, nod, and humor you like they would their aunt Marge when she describes her superior method of handwashing her slips.
There are some books that are best read in solitude.
The ones that are deeply psychological, really inspire self-reflection or personal scrutiny, and time alone to digest your thoughts.
These are not those books.
There are certain types of stories that lend themselves to being read and shared with others. Ones full of humor. Daring adventures chronicling hardships endured that are unbelievable. Epic tales full of suspense and glory.
These are the types of stories whose enjoyment in reading them doubles when shared with someone else. Someone to enjoy the humor with you, share in the disbelief felt at the tenacity and grit, or someone to theorize, predict, and look forward to the next piece of action.
When you read some of these books alone, you feel let down when compelled to share some amazing tidbit and look up from the page for someone to tell, only to find yourself in an empty room.
Reading a book together will spare yourself (and others) the pain of having to try and EXPLAIN why and how what you are reading is amazing. You won’t have to worry about getting muddled in details an outsider just can’t understand and feeling disappointed when you are unable to communicate the impressiveness of it.
Some books, therefore, are just better read WITH someone – so you can share in the joy of the work point by point, digesting the same information every step of the way so there’s no convoluted explanation necessary to share it.
Put simply, certain stories are much better enjoyed when they are shared. And certain stories are hard to share unless someone is along for the ride with you.
Below are my top 5 recommendations of books to read with your partner, and why each one is better read together.
This book is much more interestingly told than any of its movie adaptations let on. It’s a commitment and serious time investment, but worth the time.
I was surprised by the format of the story. Bram Stoker utilizes the journal entries of multiple characters as well as newspaper articles to piece together a full picture of events.
It’s a really fun mystery to immerse yourself in, all the better if you have someone to discuss things with and make predictions about where you think the story is going. We listened to this one on tape – I got mine from the local library, and would recommend listening to it highly.
The film adaptations of Dracula are shallow representations of Stoker’s work, similar to the way that Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein is much richer and complex than the Hollywood versions. If you think you know the deal with Dracula but haven’t read this book, you are sorely mistaken.
Another one we listened to. We found a great version on audible.com and thought the woman who read it was very good. She does an excellent job of bestowing unique voices on each of the characters, which pairs well with Jane Austen’s humor.
I have heard about this book a lot over the years, and my impression of it was that it was a serious book. One that might be sort of dull but was nonetheless important to the canon because it had something profound to say about society. The latter may be true, but this book is not at all dull or serious.
I was shocked to find the book so funny. Austen is a master of dialogue. She has a lot of fun playing with social niceties and expectations. So many of her characters are hilarious caricatures.
This book is highly entertaining. I really think the fun is doubled when you have someone next to you to look at and exchange “Are they serious? These people are ridiculous” expressions with, which is why this is one of my favorite books to read with your partner.
I’ve put this book on other book lists, but it deserves to be mentioned more than once.
This ancient world is so epic and enveloping that you’ll be let down if you enter it alone. There’s so much action, suspense, emotion, and violence that you almost want support going through it.
It’s a BIG story – the story of two armies battling in the Trojan War.
It’s an amazing story, but to be honest, it takes a lot of investment in learning and following the familial lines and histories of loyalty and betrayal. It’s a LOT easier to keep things straight when you have someone to help remind you of things and track things that you forget, which is why it made my list of books to read with your partner.
This one is fun to read alongside your boyfriend or girlfriend purely to share in the shock factor.
This story is about Ernest Shackleton and his expedition to the Antarctic in 1914, which went horribly awry and tested the ability of the 28-men crew to battle the elements and survive the coming couple of years.
It is a gruesome and unbelievable story that will make you realize you’ve never TRULY struggled a day in your life. And NO, you are NOT a real man or a person of significant grit.
What’s better than having your mind blown? Having it blown alongside someone else to share in your disbelief and your shame at how much of a sissy you both are.
‘Tis is a memoir by Irish immigrant and teacher Frank McCourt (the second in a series).
Frank McCourt is a very funny writer, even when dealing with subject matter that is very grim.
His books have an element of theatricality to them, which makes them especially good for reading aloud (like The Iliad). The overall effect of the humor is amplified.
And besides, reading him will give you and your boo a chance to practice and perfect your Irish accent (real talk: it could use a little work).
But never fear. McCourt writes his lines of dialogue in such a way that the work itself bestows the accent upon the reader.
Still not sure why you shouldn’t just read these alone?
According to studies conducted at the Derek Zoolander Center for Kids Who Can’t Read Good and Who Wanna Learn To Do Other Stuff Good Too, reading out loud can help boost your memory, is a low-key way to improve your public speaking/performance skills, and is proven to make you really, really, really ridiculously good-looking.
Really though, the more you read aloud, the more you develop performance skills like enunciation, pacing, tone, and more. And there’s been a legitimate study that touts a link between improved memory and reading aloud.
It’s also just a great activity to do with someone you love. It’s an amazing way to connect with them through shared enjoyment and experience of the story, as well as through sharing your ideas about what you read and doing some intellectual exploring together.
Also, these days we’re all consuming information at a mile a minute and there’s a lot of talk about shortening attention spans.
I’m of the mind that it’s healthy to keep your attention span on one story for an extended amount of time, which happens when you only read out loud when you’re together.
Wondering what you should read on your own? Check out my post The Best 12 Provocative Books You Won’t Want to Put Down.
What would be on your list of books to read with your partner, or just better to read with someone? As always, I’d love to hear from you!
Until next time,