Dating by the Book – looking for love through literature

When it comes to romance, I think we are using books the wrong way. There are countless books about dating. They range from positive to negative to the extremely off-putting, including titles such as Dating Fitness, which combines dating with gym imagery (have YOU flexed your dating muscles recently?), and thus makes the whole thing sound a million times worse than it is. There are books on how to date and who to date and where to find dates, but why not just bring books along when we go dating?

Probably not one to impress the Pope with, either.A speed-read-dating function – where all the participants bring a few favoured books to show the others – sounds a lot more appealing to me than a three-minute meet and greet. By having special Book Daters events, we could just solve that hideous moment when you have spent two minutes rhapsodising about what you are currently reading and they say, “I don’t like books, actually.” You could get straight into the real question of the date – do you both like similar books?

It would solve non-compatibility issues right off the bat. If they are flashing a well-thumbed copy of the The God Delusion and you are clutching your battered and much loved copy of the Bible, well, that’s probably not a match made in heaven – whether you believe heaven exists or not. Likewise, Mills & Boons romance readers of the Barbara Cartland school (kissing is fine, but no further) might want to give people toting a copy of I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell a wide berth.

The great thing about books is that they can be a little window into the reader’s brain. I have heard various horror stories from speed-dating, and a lot of those tale involve lies of the most basic nature – the guy who claimed to work at an animal shelter and turned out to work in the stock exchange (which I reckon would have probably been a deal-breaker either way round you decided to lie), another one who said he was just “a normal regular Joe” who brought his mother with him on the date, a girl who claimed to be a “sucessfull[sic] business woman” on a dating site and then tried to borrow cash for transport to the date in question.

A quick peak at their top three books would solve that one neatly. People read about the life that they would like to lead. If they’re holding travelogues and your idea of annual leave bliss is two weeks at home, this may not work out. If he’s toting Tolkien and an armload of fantasy books, you can’t complain when he turns out to be esoteric and fascinating but occasionally a touch odd. Likewise, if their favoured reading is sports books and sports bios and sports jokes, you can’t scream that you had no warning about this sport fixation when you have to spend the third Sunday in a row watching the games with them or worse, actually running around a pitch.

This man knows romance is a shirt half off.If your idea of true love is bringing home petrol station forecourt flowers on Valentine’s Day and they’re into urban and paranormal romance, you can bet that you’ll need to up your game in the romance stakes. A lot. And possibly wear sparkly body lotion in the sack.

Book can be a direct look at the relationships they idolise and what they will expect from you – Bella and Edward, Mr Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet, Sam and Frodo. Need to know what they want from you? Check out their bookshelf. Or better yet, get them to come to the date with their best books.

I mean, nine times out of ten if it all goes well you’ll just end up wittering on about books anyway so why not just make it official?

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Sadhbh Warren

Sadhbh Warren is a freelance writer and proud booklover. Her name is pronounced Sive - like five – an Irish name, easier to say than spell! She lives in Sydney, writing travel and humour articles, and is always on the lookout for a great new book.