Wednesday, March 11, 2009

ditch that man and read a book instead

works for me...

Back in the dark ages when I was dating, I had a friend tell me I had no standards when it came to men – that I'd date anyone. Now, that certainly wasn't true. I wouldn't, for example, date someone with poor hygiene or who professed to be an axe-murderer. I did have to admit, though, that my friend had a point, that I would date, well, pretty much anyone who'd ask me out. On further analysis I decided that this was not, as implied by this so-called "friend," an indication of loose morality, but was in fact an indication of strong character. It meant I didn't judge people too quickly; I got to know them a bit before deciding whether or not a relationship had any chance of working out. A valuable gem might lie just beneath a rough exterior. I was willing to take the chance of finding out.

I'm no longer free to date (I have a feeling my husband would disapprove), so I've had to find something else to feed this need I have to try new things. That "something else" is, of course, the world of books. (Who knows? Perhaps it was my love of constantly exploring different kinds of books that led to my willingness to sample different kinds of men.)

Think about it – there are a lot of similarities between picking a mate and picking a book. Your eye may land on a handsome volume at random, or you may hear about a promising one through a friend whose taste you respect. You pick it up and take it home with you to evaluate further. The relationship might be fast and furious, or it may end up being something you savor, or - even better - a love that you return to again and again over the years. Or it may end up being a complete waste of time. You just never know until you investigate what's between the covers.

Relationships with books actually have some pretty compelling advantages over relationships with men. With books, it's always your choice if the liaison ends prematurely. You don't have to worry about the awkwardness of trying to avoid your discarded book should you bump into it in the grocery store. You can tell it, "It's not you, it's me" or even "You know, it actually IS you" without hurting its feelings. It will also never insist on an exclusive relationship, and no one will think ill of you if you love more than one. You can take one to bed with you the very first night you bring it home without your mother blinking an eye.

I seem to have a misplaced sense of loyalty toward the books I start. I know a number of readers who will stick with a book for fifty or a hundred pages, and if they're not impressed by that time, will unceremoniously discard it, never giving it another thought. I, however, end up feeling that even if I have my reservations, I need to give it a chance; it may improve on further acquaintance. I feel guilty if I don't struggle through to the end. Like most of the men I've dated, though, my initial impressions were correct, and the additional time spent struggling to enjoy the experience was time lost. Perhaps now that I'm older I should start developing higher standards... at least where books are concerned.

BookBrowse reviewer Kim Kovacs is an avid reader in the Pacific Northwest. All those rainy days give her the opportunity to enjoy a wide variety of books that span many genres.

(and i'll try to keep it in mind the next time i find myself hungering after some man...)

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