As a reader, I'll inevitably get asked for reading recommendations. Especially after people find out I blog about books. This expectation increases exponentially when it comes to the world of romance.
I suppose it's understandable. If someone is a disciple of Ayn Rand, or happen to think of Humbert Humbert as just a poor misunderstood soul, then it's good to get these things out of the way in the first few dates - so I know to block them from Facebook and, for that matter, my life. Of course, I'm sure the reverse applies for guys who don't particularly dig women who read a lot, and who can get a little soap-boxy about it.
A reader's book recommendations can tell you a lot about them as a person. It not only denotes personality and taste, but can also give you a strong glimpse into their belief system when it comes to politics, the economy, relationships, family, the whole lot. Which is why I think reading recommendations can be a powerful tool when it comes to offering insight into someone's dating suitability.
Anyway, as my life is an open book (haha) to a degree, here are the books I'd recommend to a date, complete with reasons.
The Passage, Justin Cronin
There is something very attractive about a man who can appreciate vampires, of the non-sparkly, non-romantic variety. Also, this is post-apocalyptic fiction, a genre I adore. It's a good way to gauge snobbery - as in, if he wrinkles his nose and says "I don't read that sort of book," you can politely excuse yourself, go barf, then suddenly remember you have an urgent appointment to go home and vigorously brush your cat.
The Road, Cormac McCarthy
It would actually be acceptable to me if someone didn't like this book, but they must be able to specify why and not dismiss it out of hand. McCarthy's darkness isn't something everyone can or wants to appreciate, but it's his astuteness about human nature, and the razor sharpness of his language (seriously, if words can make you bleed....), that makes him brilliant as a writer. Qualities that you would hope your date has at least noticed.
Why We Love, Helen Fisher
OK, I'm not normally a proponent of self-help books, but I like Helen Fisher. A lot. Watch some of her TED talks and you'll see what I mean. She's smart, sharp and has that rare ability that only truly great academics have of being able to take a complex idea and years of research, and distil it into knowledge that can be parcelled to and understood by the masses. Plus, romantic love is something we are all interested in. So let's not lie and admit that we all want to find out why we feel the way we do about someone. Biochemically speaking.
Anything by David Mitchell
He's one of my favourite authors and while I wouldn't go so far as to say it's a deal-breaker if someone doesn't appreciate his finesse, it would make me think twice about whether we suit. Like anyone with a respectable writing career behind them, Mitchell has written some incomprehensible (at least to me) messes (Number9Dream), but also brilliant works like Cloud Atlas and Ghostwritten.
Ditto Margaret Atwood
See above. But most important, they must be able to appreciate The Handmaid's Tale. Must.
Shades of Grey, Jasper Fforde
I always like to recommend at least one book that I've read recently, and this was the latest on my reading list that I got through that I truly loved. What a way to tell what someone's political beliefs would be as well. Is he a Red, Yellow, Purple or Grey? The mind boggles.
What books would you recommend to your dates?