A response to E’s post on Men and Books written by our genius friend Andrew, whose literary prowess is only one of his many charms.
After reading Elizabeth’s post on Men and Books, you’ve been put on notice that your book choices are being judged. Critically. While you may now be tempted to abandon the literary enterprise entirely, I’m here to tell you to stay strong. It IS possible to use books to your advantage in the game of modern courtship (books are, after all, the third building block of a strong relationship**).
In my experience, giving good book recommendations to women is just a matter of knowing who you’re talking to. To illustrate, I’ve written a primer on exactly which type of books to recommend to particular types of women. As you’ll see (ahem, Elizabeth), women aren’t the only ones capable of reading between the lines.
Women and Books: How to Be the Mr. Darcy of Book Giving
For The Girl Who Plays Candy Crush on the Train:
You talked a few times during your commute. You’ve never seen her do anything on her phone other than play Candy Crush. Suggesting a book feels like a big leap of faith.
Sun Tzu’s Art of War. She is a candy samurai. This book will help her unlock battle strategies that she had never considered.
The Da Vinci Code. You thought she would feel like she is “leveling up” when she finishes a chapter three minutes. Instead, she remembers this as the book her grandmother was raving about when she was eleven.
For The Girl Who Has a Patent:
She has a patent? They still give those out? You never would have found out from her (she is, of course, supremely humble), but your mutual friend told you after the party that she invented a medical device in undergrad that is simply called the “Jennifer” in a stretch of rural villages in the Andes.
To Kill a Mockingbird. She read it really fast in the 8th grade while working on her med school apps, and she never had that life-changing moment where she decides to name her first-born Atticus and her second-born Scout.
Being Mortal. She has Atul Gawande as a professor in med school right now, and you don’t want to compete with that.
For The Girl Who Looks Like Zooey Deschanel:
You way too stereotypically remember the first time you saw her in the park. She doesn’t remember.
Your honest-to-god favorite book. Yes, Calvin and Hobbes. Don’t fall into the trap of faking who you are, enough guys have flirted with her that she’ll see right through it.
Love in the Time of Cholera. You only read the first half. She will actually read the whole thing and then ask you how you liked the ending.
For The Girl Who Plays Fiddle in That Folk Band:
You see her after shows and tell her that she sounds great. You think that she probably likes the Avett Brothers and/or whiskey, but you’re afraid to broach either subject.
The Journals of Lewis and Clark. This one’s a shot in the dark, so you might as well go with some quintessential American non-fiction. Who doesn’t love an adventure?
Commonsense Instrument Care: How to Look After Your Violin. That time you played recorder in the 4th grade does not qualify you to recommend music books of any kind. And that one summer you spent playing guitar hero probably disqualifies you from recommending anything for string instruments, ever. What I am saying is that you are not on her level here. Do not try to get on her level.
For The Girl Reading In the Bookstore Café:
She caught you spacing out and staring at her from behind a stack of books. Fear not, she gave you the half-smile. You still have a chance.
Ask her for a recommendation. Come back the next week and talk about it. Actually, though.
For The Girl You’ve Been Seeing for a Month but You Haven’t Talked to About Books Yet:
Wait, you’ve been too busy to talk about books even once? Props.
East of Eden. Disliking this book should be a serious red flag.
East of Eden. Of course she’s going to like it; you won’t learn anything about her. Unless she says she can relate to Kate, in which case you should make a fast exit and go talk to the girl in the bookstore café.
**Step 1: Find out her mom’s age, and guess exactly eight years younger with a straight face.
Step 2: Every time you see her mother, guess one year younger than your original guess.