Dear Little Brother and Boychildren of mine:
Date a girl who reads. Date a girl who spends her money on books instead of clothes. She has problems with closet space because she has too many books. Date a girl who has a list of books she wants to read, who has had a library card since she was twelve.
Find a girl who reads. You’ll know that she does because she will always have an unread book in her bag.
She’s the one lovingly looking over the shelves in the bookstore, the one who quietly cries out when she finds the book she wants. You see the weird chick sniffing the pages of an old book in a second hand book shop? That’s the reader. They can never resist smelling the pages, especially when they are yellow.
She’s the girl reading while waiting in that coffee shop down the street. If you take a peek at her mug, the non-dairy creamer is floating on top because she’s kind of engrossed already. Lost in a world of the author’s making. Sit down. She might give you a glare, as most girls who read do not like to be interrupted. Ask her if she likes the book.
Buy her another cup of coffee.
Let her know what you really think of Murakami. See if she got through the first chapter of Fellowship. Understand that if she says she understood James Joyce’s Ulysses she’s just saying that to sound intelligent. Ask her if she loves Alice or she would like to be Alice.
It’s easy to date a girl who reads. Give her books for her birthday, for Christmas and for anniversaries. Give her the gift of words, in poetry, in song. Give her Neruda, Pound, Sexton, Cummings. Let her know that you understand that words are love. Understand that she knows the difference between books and reality but by god, she’s going to try to make her life a little like her favorite book. It will never be your fault if she does.
She has to give it a shot somehow.
Lie to her. If she understands syntax, she will understand your need to lie. Behind words are other things: motivation, value, nuance, dialogue. It will not be the end of the world.
Fail her. Because a girl who reads knows that failure always leads up to the climax. Because girls who understand that all things will come to end. That you can always write a sequel. That you can begin again and again and still be the hero. That life is meant to have a villain or two.
Why be frightened of everything that you are not? Girls who read understand that people, like characters, develop. Except in the Twilight series.
If you find a girl who reads, keep her close. When you find her up at 2 AM clutching a book to her chest and weeping, make her a cup of tea and hold her. You may lose her for a couple of hours but she will always come back to you. She’ll talk as if the characters in the book are real, because for a while, they always are.
You will propose on a hot air balloon. Or during a rock concert. Or very casually next time she’s sick. Over Skype.
You will smile so hard you will wonder why your heart hasn’t burst and bled out all over your chest yet. You will write the story of your lives, have kids with strange names and even stranger tastes. She will introduce your children to the Cat in the Hat and Aslan, maybe in the same day. You will walk the winters of your old age together and she will recite Keats under her breath while you shake the snow off your boots.
Date a girl who reads because you deserve it. You deserve a girl who can give you the most colorful life imaginable. If you can only give her monotony, and stale hours and half-baked proposals, then you’re better off alone. If you want the world and the worlds beyond it, date a girl who reads.
Or better yet, date a girl who writes.
While they’re not my words, this is my advice to you. If you take nothing else from me, this reader of a girl in your lives, take this. Date a girl who reads. Date a girl who writes. Date a girl who knows how to make your life colorful and magical. A girl who can find the very most in the very least. A girl who reads believes where others do not. They are steadfast and true and will stick by you through good times and bad. Because they believe in happy endings and the journey it takes to get there.
You want a girl who can attach a quote to every situation you find yourselves in, because the girl who can quote books at you is not easily discouraged. She’s seen this before, in the pages of her novels, she will not run, she will not falter. She will take your hand and square her shoulders and will pull you forward when you’re too tired to go on yourself.
A girl who reads will not demand perfection, because she finds the wonder in the imperfection of your lives. You might be compared to her heroes, those literary boys who have stolen her heart, but she will not hold it against you if you aren’t them. She will believe in your love story as strongly as she believes in those make believe ones she holds so dear.
The girl who reads will not be angry when you go out with your friends. She will not demand you make your every movement about her. She is not afraid to spend the evening alone, because she always has a back up plan. It’s in a pile next to her bed.
You want a girl who will raise your children to be readers themselves. Who will show them worlds beyond this one, who will hide under the blankets with them, flashlight in hand, giggling over Dobby or worrying for Bilbo. Your children will thank you for this mother. You will thank yourself for choosing this woman.
She will leave books all over the house and will cook your dinner with her nose buried in one and you will laugh and tease her when she burns the pasta, but she will be able to save it, because the girl who reads is imaginative.
And when your lives are closer to the end than they are to the beginning, she will reach across the space between your chairs and grasp your spotted hand in hers and she will see the man you were when she met you. The wrinkles and creases in your face will not scare her off. She will read your story in those lines, in the crinkles near the corner of your eyes and she will smile because of all the stories she’s ever read, the one you wrote together is her favorite.
A reader, boys. If you have a choice between the cheerleader or the reader, always pick the reader. One may be prettier, but her head is full of air. Choose the one whose brain is full to bursting with stories and plots and characters and quotes. You deserve that girl. You deserve the life that girl will give you. And never, ever, settle for anything less than her.