An online survey found while most people like a well-read date, women are more attracted to bookish men than vice versa. Have you ever fallen in love or rejected someone based on their reading list? Share it in the comments below
I once went on a date with a man who, instead of writing a full online dating profile, listed his four favourite books. When asked, he said it seemed simpler than writing a lengthy bio.
It was and it wasnt: the titles hed included offered a tantalising glimpse into his personality. While I didnt end up discovering whether he was as intriguing as the selection, it was a good place to start the conversation.
Im not the only one scrutinising the books included in a dating profile. Reading itself is an attractive pastime, according to research released by online dating site eHarmony. However, while well-read men received almost 20% more messages than their peers, women who listed reading as a hobby received 7% less. So much for all those men who are into sapiosexuals.
Whether it be online or in conversation, the books we choose to identify ourselves with say plenty about us. Its shorthand for what we want to signal about our interests, intelligence and levels of engagement with the world.
What then does it say that, according to eHarmony, some of the most attractive books a man can read are Walter Isaacsons biography of Steve Jobs, and George Orwells 1984; but the unattractive titles are the Harry Potter series and second world war novels?
Conversely the Harry Potter books are precisely those men find most attractive on a female reading list, along with The Hunger Games series, Jane Austens Pride and Prejudice and Stieg Larssons The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Despite the fact they were global bestsellers about luurve in all its lurid forms, the Twilight series and Fifty Shades of Grey is a no-go for most men.
While theres a consensus that listing cookbooks or The Bible is a turn-off, theres an astonishing amount of bonding going on over Anthony Kiedis autobiography Scar Tissue and the Game of Thrones series.
Unsurprisingly, book lists are a good indicator of compatibility for Guardian staffers, whether it be forewarned by way of The Fountainhead or clicking over Harry Potter. And so we ask you to share your thoughts below what books do you find attractive in a potential partner? And why?
If I saw The Fountainhead, I ran a mile
Call me negative but when I was online dating I mainly used the books list as a warning rather than an attraction. I love a well-read man, and there are infinite wonderful books in the world that could attract me to someone if listed on a dating site (Id have fallen over backwards for a man who listed Elena Ferrantes Neapolitan series, for instance).
But there was one common well-loved book among men that if I saw, I ran a mile: The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand. I have since discovered it is one of Donald Trumps favourite books, one of the few works of fiction hes ever read. Its nice to be right.
I steer clear of men who revere books in which women are only ever bit-parts
I am deeply suspicious of men who profess a profound love for Bret Easton Ellis, Christopher Hitchens, Hunter S Thompson, any Beat poet but especially Kerouac, and to a lesser extent Hemingway.
Speaking as someone who finishes about four books a year, its not a requirement that my partners are well-read. It is that they are properly, profoundly feminist not card-carrying ones whove learned that claiming affiliation is a prerequisite to gaining access.
Its a delicate balance to strike. In my experience of online dating, men who semaphore-signal their feminist credentials with an extensive reading list as soon as theres the opportunity are to be avoided as much as those who freely wear their misogyny.
My strategy is to steer clear of men who revere books in which women are only ever bit-parts or accessories and always lesser. Reading books by women is a point in their favour; youd be surprised by how many men dont.
I avoid women who hang out in the self-help section
Books have played a trifling role in my search for love, certainly beside bonding moments over music and karaoke specifically.
My true love told me just this week she has no time to read books, and who am I to argue? But as the son of a bookseller, I was raised to avoid women who hang out in the self-help section. And yes, that includes Paulo Coelho.
I bought all his favourite books and read them
Years ago I had a Titanic-sized crush on a man I worked with and looked up his MySpace. I had not read any of the favourite books he listed so I bought them all and read them. One of them, Everything Is Illuminated by Jonathan Safran Foer, remains a favourite of mine today. When I eventually got my crush into my bedroom he noticed two of the books on my shelf, commenting how much he liked them. Me too! I responded, perhaps a little too enthusiastically.
Reader, I successfully tricked him into loving me and now we are married.
Harry Potter is an excellent litmus test
Im a Ravenclaw because the Pottermore quiz is fairly easy to manipulate, although tricking an online quiz into sorting me into the smart house probably makes me more Slytherin. I think Id like to date a Slytherin but usually end up with Hufflepuffs, which ends badly for all involved.
Following? Good. If youre not, we probably shouldnt date. My personality is 90% pop culture references and about 35% of that is Harry Potter. As Rob Fleming says in High Fidelity (10%, both book and film), what really matters is what you like, not what you are like. As a general rule I dont judge people who havent seen or read my core texts, but it does make me harder to understand.
The exception to the no-judgement rule is Harry Potter. Not because its so central to my identity (though it is), but because its an excellent litmus test. The Venn diagram of people who are proud they havent read Harry Potter, not just couldnt be bothered with it but actively think that shunning a book written for children makes them intellectually superior, and people who are insufferable wankers is a circle.
She had a book on Russian political assassinations on her shelf
Finding something surprising has always piqued my interest. With my partner I found a book she had on Russian political assassinations and fake terror campaigns. When I eventually borrowed it, Blowing Up Russia: The Secret Plot to Bring Back KGB Terror was an interesting read.
I was struck by his engagement with little-known Australian poet Lesbia Harford
My partner piqued my interest with his literary proclivities months before Id even met him but with his writing, not his reading. When we eventually started seeing each other, we naturally talked a lot about books, and I remember being struck by his deep engagement with the work of little-known and under-appreciated 20th century Australian poet, Lesbia Harford.
But what sealed the deal was when, on a weekend away early in our relationship, I watched him peruse a bookshelf ladened with various macho literary heavyweights, and eagerly pick up the Georgette Heyer novel instead.
He was teaching himself English via Chaucers The Canterbury Tales
Years ago while backpacking I met an Israeli whose English was rudimentary. But he was determined to improve, and was teaching himself English via a book hed picked up at a hostel Chaucers The Canterbury Tales. Consequently, his speech was speckled with bawdy 14th century turns of phrase, which made him sound like a Middle Eastern-accented Middle English poet. It certainly won me over.
I was brutally rejected for failing to read War and Peace
I was once brutally rejected on a Tinder date for failing to read War and Peace. Ill never forget the look of disdain and disappointment when I confessed that Tolstoy was just not really my thing. My date bristled and, a short time later, excused herself. She needed to meet a friend for dinner. Funnily enough we had just eaten. There was no second date.
So I try not to be too judgmental about what others read.
But I do love science fiction and fantasy. And if Im on a date, and Neil Gaiman or Ray Bradbury come up, then Im sure well have enough to talk about for a few more drinks.
But its best not to be too snobby about it. Its a strange thing that we place so much romantic stock in the shared love of a pastime that is really such a solitary activity. And I really dont want to read War and Peace.