“I love the idea of us reading together, have you any books in mind?”
November 2, 2017 4:34 PM   Subscribe

What books read together made a difference for you and your partner?

My partner and I are looking for books to read together and discuss. We’re both in our mid/late 40s, enjoy reading, hold typically progressive/liberal values, and are pretty well read.

We both enjoy, or are interested in literature/classics; poetry; non-fiction (especially when socially relevant); and some religious/spiritual works (we’re both Buddhist leaning agnostic, for what it’s worth); and also find interest in books that can help us improve and maintain our relationship.

So what books did you enjoy or get a lot from by reading together?
posted by brokeaspoke to Human Relations (11 answers total) 23 users marked this as a favorite
My wife and I did this with Whistlestop, by John Dickerson (host of Face the Nation, on the Slate Political Gabfest, etc.). It's a mix of stories from presidential campaigns (both recent and not), of the sort that get passed around by the press pool on the campaign bus.

It's fun, informative, and has some jokes thrown in. Each chapter being mostly self-contained makes it so that alternating book possession for each chapter works well (and makes it easy to discuss the whole relevant set of facts without forgetting). I'd highly recommend it.
posted by The Notorious B.F.G. at 5:13 PM on November 2, 2017 [2 favorites]

What Love Is by Carrie Jenkins. A philosopher delves into the metaphysics of love and tries to start unpacking its biological and cultural nuances. Not very long and quite thoughtful.
posted by congen at 7:00 PM on November 2, 2017 [1 favorite]

The Complete Tightwad Gazette (I'm not kidding). We already knew we were each cheap, and then we found out that we were actually thrifty at heart.

We tried to read Dubliners together. It didn't go well.
posted by ivan ivanych samovar at 8:02 PM on November 2, 2017 [2 favorites]

The Fifth Sacred Thing and the His Dark Materials trilogy. We were in our early twenties though, so apologies if they're a little too earnest.
posted by metasarah at 8:29 PM on November 2, 2017 [1 favorite]

I thought you meant read *to*. Which is what I did after I watched the movie La Lectrice. I read the Japanese classic Woman in the Dunes to my husband. It is about a couple so if you are looking for a book to read in tandem or to each other - this is a good one.
posted by cda at 10:36 PM on November 2, 2017

This is not really what you listed, but we've been reading each other favourite books from childhood that the other doesn't know. We're apart atm so make audio recordings. My partner is particularly fond of the Ramona books by Beverly Cleary which I have found absolutely delightful. They're touching, perceptive, and have a surprising depth to them.

So my suggestion would be to talk about books you read when much younger. It's a lovely way to learn more about your partner.
posted by giraffeneckbattle at 2:45 AM on November 3, 2017 [6 favorites]

We read The Power Broker! Brilliant book, lots to talk about, plus I would not have motivated myself to read it without my boyfriend to hold me accountable (I loved every page, but it is long, which is not really my forte).
posted by ferret branca at 5:47 AM on November 3, 2017 [1 favorite]

We did Lamb by Christopher Moore and a book called the Sex Starved Marriage (which is a terrible title for a book but sparked a lot of great discussion)
posted by dpx.mfx at 10:31 AM on November 3, 2017

I've found that reading plays together is the most fun because the dialogue keeps both of us engaged. Shakespeare is fun, though the number of characters can be daunting. Try "Merry Wives". More contemporary, "Crimes of the Heart" by Beth Henley.
posted by falsedmitri at 10:47 AM on November 3, 2017

We've done both read-alouds (a lot of fun; try it sometime!) and reading the same book then discussing (which sometimes is hard because she reads much faster than I do), either during reading or after we finish.

Read alouds:
The Wind in the Willows (reading the picnic scene during a picnic was just inspired!) and William Horwood's sequels
Winnie The Pooh
The Little Prince
A Very Long Engagement by Sébastien Japrisot

Shared reads:
Being Mortal by Atul Gawande (difficult, but very good discussion--was part of a community read & discussion around the topic)
First Bite by Bee Wilson
Enchanted April by Elizabeth von Arnim
Ancillary Justice and sequels by Ann Leckie (we both love sci fi and this series has some great discussion points)
The Chalion series by Lois McMaster Bujold (interesting fantasy exploration of religion, especially the 3rd book)
The October Daye series by Seanen McGuire (way fluffier, but fun to complain and speculate about)
The Gentleman Bastard series by Scott Lynch (also good for complaint and speculation)
posted by carrioncomfort at 12:48 PM on November 3, 2017 [2 favorites]

What a great question! Mr. K and I have read a lot of books together because we've been together a lot of years. Many, many books we've loved, but books that have made a difference... ah, a tougher question.

The two most recent books were both small, but very powerful: "Being Mortal" by Atal Gawande and "Tribe" by Sebastian Junger.

An unexpected hit was "The Great Monkey Trial" by L. Sprague de Camp. We watched "Inherent the Wind" on dvd, and were mildly interested in the outcome of the Scopes trial. I was intrigued that de Camp, a favorite sci-fi writer, had written a book about the trial. Got the book on inter-library loan and found it slow going, but I kept reading bits of it out loud. So we committed to reading it to each other -- much easier, and wow! 1925, but the same issues are unresolved today, including whether to teach evolution in schools. And so many interesting issues to talk about. We continue to reference it when we read the news.
posted by kestralwing at 6:44 PM on November 3, 2017 [1 favorite]

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