He cooks. I do the dishes. He does the food shopping. I supervise homework. He waters the garden. I handle all tech support. He unclogs stuff. I do the online bill paying.
It all works.
Our other sharply defined division of labor?
I pick out his reading material.
Here’s the deal. My husband did not grow up in the US and is not a native English speaker, although his English is actually excellent. He’s always enjoyed reading (and if you want to know the role that reading played in our romance, you can read about it here), but he didn’t start reading books in English until well into his 20s. He also (gasp! horrors!) doesn’t think about books and reading non-stop, the way that I do.
He’s told me, for instance, “I don’t care who wrote the book, so long as it’s good.” And “I don’t keep track of authors.”
I’m not sure that he’s ever gone into a bookstore without me dragging him by the hand.
He certainly does not read book reviews. (He also does not read my blog, so HI HONEY! I can say what I want with impunity.)
He does love to read. Granted, he usually only makes it through 5 – 10 pages at a time. He reads in bed and then falls asleep. Cute, right?
My job is to pick his books. Crazy, I know. But hey, we have a system.
A good book can last him a few months. But once he’s done, he’ll inform me, “I need a book.” It’s my job to go search the bookshelves and come up with a few choices, then hand him a stack and maybe provide a few comments on each.
It’s harder than it sounds. I read everything; he does not. A good half (or maybe even 2/3) of my books are out of the question from the outset. He won’t read science fiction*, fantasy**, horror, paranormal/supernatural, or anything approaching brick-like size.
*He did read science fiction in his teens: Asimov, Clarke, Bradbury… but has no interest now.
**He did, however, read and enjoy The Time Traveler’s Wife. Go figure.
He also refuses books with any but a straight-forward narrative style (Beloved by Toni Morrison was quickly rejected), complains when books have long descriptive passages (“gibberish”, as he puts it) or just don’t grab him for whatever stray reason. He has also read books all the way through and then quit five pages before the end, saying that he “got the point already” and was done. (The Poisonwood Bible comes to mind…)
Recent successes? Biggest hits recently have been The Thorn Birds (which he remembered fondly as a TV mini-series) and Maya’s Notebook by Isabel Allende. Lately, we’ve done well with Allende, Lisa See, and Amy Tan. He seems to enjoy books with a non-US setting, where he gets to explore new cultures and read about beliefs, traditions, and superstitions that he hasn’t encountered before.
So far, he’s steadfastly refused to read Outlander or A Game of Thrones, perhaps because they’re kinda huge, or maybe it’s just because I keep pushing them. Like, constantly.
Because hubby dearest does not keep track of titles or authors, we’ve had the somewhat hilarious experience of having him get halfway through a book before realizing that he’s read it before. In the case of A Thread of Grace by Mary Doria Russell, by the time he got that far, he was hooked again, so this became one of the rare books that he’s read more than once.
He’s decided that I should start tracking his reading… and seeing how much I love a) Excel and b) playing with books, I’ve started a worksheet of his recent reading. I’m NOT setting him up with his own Goodreads account, because he’d use it about as often as he uses his Facebook account (i.e., never) — but if I’m supposed to just remember what he’s read, then we’re both in trouble.
Meanwhile, he tells me that I’m doing great. I feel like my choices fail at least as often as they succeed — but, hey, I haven’t run out of options yet. It really is in my best interest to keep him reading, after all — that way I get more uninterrupted reading time for myself!
It’s fun, actually. Considering how much time I spend reading books, thinking about books, talking about books, and writing about books, it’s nice to be able to share this with him. Granted, he’ll never come to a book signing with me or get all excited about the big annual library book sale… but at least he appreciates the joy of a good book and will even initiate book discussions once in a while!
Meanwhile, don’t even get me started on my “no, I don’t feel like reading!” kid. I swear he’s mine — I remember the delivery quite clearly! — but I can’t for the life of me figure out how I ended up with a kid who just has no interest in reading… much as I push and push and push.
Oy. Well. At least one of the males in my household appreciates my book-pushing and book-picking efforts.