A friend brought this New York Times essay to my attention, about whether romantic compatibility goes with shared literary taste. I tend to agree with Ariel Levy that shared tastes are irrelevant: it doesn’t matter to me whether my boyfriend reads or likes the same books as me; in fact, it wouldn’t matter to me if he didn’t read at all. I’d rather share a sense of humour than a taste in music.
Sharing tastes is tremendous fun: one of the nicest things about spending time with my sister is that she’s just about the only person I know who shares all my musical tastes. But for someone to live with, make a life with? After a while it all feels a bit like navel-gazing. It’s nice to get away from each other now and then, and the things that only I like stay special in part because only I like them.
The fatuousness of this man:
James Collins, whose new novel, “Beginner’s Greek,” is about a man who falls for a woman he sees reading “The Magic Mountain” on a plane, recalled that after college, he was “infatuated” with a woman who had a copy of “The Unbearable Lightness of Being” on her bedside table. “I basically knew nothing about Kundera, but I remember thinking, ‘Uh-oh; trendy, bogus metaphysics, sex involving a bowler hat,’ and I never did think about the person the same way (and nothing ever happened),” he wrote in an e-mail message. “I know there were occasions when I just wrote people off completely because of what they were reading long before it ever got near the point of falling in or out of love: Baudrillard (way too pretentious), John Irving (way too middlebrow), Virginia Woolf (way too Virginia Woolf).”
is superb. What exactly would be acceptable reading for him, one wonders? Apart from The Magic Mountain, surely a strange choice for a sexually alluring book.