11/20/2015

Love and other stories

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I tried to learn about love when I was younger. I spent my afternoons watching movies, looking for the answer, and when I couldn’t find it there, I turned to books to learn about what love is. I guess that’s the reason why I like to give girls I like copies of my favorite books: dog-eared paperbacks with highlights all over them. It’s my way of saying: This is where I learned how to break your heart.

Sometimes I wonder if I fall in love with a girl or if I fall in love with the books she’s read. I recently met a girl who named her cat Huxley. I asked her if that’s how much she loved Brave New World and she told me that the book was her favorite. I made her a deal: I told her I would read Brave New World if she read the entire Hunger Games trilogy. For the record, the Hunger Games isn’t my favorite book series, but I like using it as a barometer of how much a girl likes me. If she can sit through 1,200 pages of bad writing and still appreciate how awesome the ending is then I guess we have a chance.

I’d rather read in bed than do it. There’s nothing like getting under the covers, opening our books and getting lost in them. It’s like traveling through time together and coming back to now to find that she’s still right there beside you (except there are no wormholes involved and you’re both still the same age when you get back). I tell her about the exploits of a young Katniss Everdeen who had to participate in this thing called the Hunger Games while she tells me about John and the utopian world state. She knows that I just spent the last two hours reading junk while she was reading a literary great but she still finds me cute anyway. In his book called Manhood for Amateurs, Michael Chabon wrote: “I have never found anything more reliably sexy in a woman than a passion for 1) reading difficult novels and 2) me.”

The most romantic thing anyone has ever done for me is to read The Fountainhead in 24 hours after finding out that it was my favorite book just so we could talk about it. When that relationship ended and when I found out that she was dating someone else, I got really mad. I wasn’t mad because she was with someone else, I got mad because she chose someone who hadn’t even read Nabokov when we fell in love through the words of Fitzgerald, Kerouac, Waugh and Dickens.

This is what I learned about love when I was younger: romance in the movies is simple but love in books is more complicated. Love in books doesn’t unfold in the first 45 minutes and end 45 minutes later with a happily ever after. Love in books isn’t portrayed through slow-motion sequences with Aerosmith playing in the background; sometimes it’s a simple as two people listening to the rain together. The words “I love you” can be written in many different ways using a number of paragraphs and they don’t always mean what they’re supposed to.

I like to give girls I like copies of my favorite books. It’s my way of saying: “I’m a book you have to read — a bargain bin find that’s a mixture of Twilight with a hint of John Green, but I swear there’s some Hemingway in me, too.”

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