When I think back over past relationships, one of the best gifts I ever got from an ex was a copy of Kitchen Confidential, Anthony Bourdain’s no-holds-barred culinary confessional. My then-boyfriend was reading the book and thought I might enjoy it, too. That purchase led to dinnertime discussions where we compared notes on our favorite scenes. We even made a pilgrimage to the restaurant of one of Bourdain’s mentors in Northern California, and I called him triumphantly when I ended up dining at Bourdain’s fancy French brasserie in NYC. It was the kind of book I’d never think to read on my own, but I loved its descriptions of food and eagerly devoured other books by Bourdain. What Happy Couples Have In Common
To be fair, though, that same ex also lost a bit of my respect by name-dropping a book he hadn’t read. I mean, if you’re gonna use The Five Love Languages (great book, by the way) as justification for why you aren’t more verbally communicative, the least you can do is actually read the book rather than the Wikipedia page! (Our breakup was unrelated to that incident, but still.)
Then there was the guy who unashamedly admitted on an early date that his last read was Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus (also worth a read). “What about novels?” I asked. “Read any good literature lately?” I’m a bit of a nerd, so this was often my go-to question when conversation ground to an awkward silence on dates.
“Actually, Susan,” he told me between sips of beer, “I only read books that can teach me something. I’m trying to get better at dating so I read Men Are From Mars. But I doubt a novel would teach me anything useful.”