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These Are the Books That Make You Totally Undateable
June 20, 2012 4:24 PM   Subscribe

Flavorwire "asked both men and women of various sexual orientations to share the books that they think render their devotees totally undateable".

Also of note is "Dear Paris Review, What Books Impress a Girl?", linked to in the Flavorwire introduction.
posted by cybertaur1 (307 comments total) 33 users marked this as a favorite

 
Those Penguin Classic hardbacks had beautiful covers. I would love to see the inside design.
posted by benito.strauss at 4:28 PM on June 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


"Several women we spoke to noted The Game, 'which is really just a guide for how to be a douchebag.' For us, the fact that you can buy a copy in 'imitation leather' is proof enough of that."

Come on now, I think that's really cutting that book some short shrift.

...it's also gilded-edged.
posted by griphus at 4:28 PM on June 20, 2012 [11 favorites]


Expected Ayn Rand. Was not disappointed.
posted by brundlefly at 4:28 PM on June 20, 2012 [41 favorites]


Okay, fine, I get that this is supposed to be snark, but having an e-reader is bad? Regardless of the book being read? Really?
posted by jcreigh at 4:29 PM on June 20, 2012 [36 favorites]


Anyone who thinks you need to lighten up because you own/have read Crime and Punishment is not worth dating.
posted by clockzero at 4:31 PM on June 20, 2012 [76 favorites]


because: linkbait
posted by b1tr0t at 4:31 PM on June 20, 2012 [12 favorites]


And this is why I'm a voracious reader who never goes to book clubs. Either those that read these books or those where people gossip about these books.
posted by Nomyte at 4:31 PM on June 20, 2012 [3 favorites]


“Anything — I don’t care if it’s Infinite Jest or Lolita or Moby-Dick — if it’s on an e-reader. Sorry.”

Apparently they asked Jonathan Franzen.
posted by grapesaresour at 4:33 PM on June 20, 2012 [40 favorites]


I would love to go to a book gossip club.

"Hey, did you see that piece of meat Portnoy's been hanging around?"
posted by griphus at 4:33 PM on June 20, 2012 [10 favorites]


Hemingway and Bukowski? What I don't even
posted by Lutoslawski at 4:34 PM on June 20, 2012 [16 favorites]


The people who make these kind of lists are never in a position to act on their cute little dictums, so don't let it bother you, folks.
posted by jonmc at 4:35 PM on June 20, 2012 [53 favorites]


“Anything — I don’t care if it’s Infinite Jest or Lolita or Moby-Dick — if it’s on an e-reader. Sorry.”

Yeah, sorry, I move frequently and don't put a lot of value into the physical objects that are books. I love their contents. I'm not moving with hundreds of pounds of books just to "show off". My e-reader has been the greatest investment I've made in a long, long while.
posted by King Bee at 4:35 PM on June 20, 2012 [66 favorites]


"The Game" is actually a pretty good book. Not a douchey how-to guide to pickup at all. It's a good journalist telling a story about his sojourn into the world of pickup artists and what he found there, and includes quite a lot on the dysfunctional characters attracted to that scene.
posted by zipadee at 4:35 PM on June 20, 2012 [13 favorites]


What is wrong with T.C. Boyle? I mean, it's not GRAET LITTERCHOOR or anything, but some of his stuff is fun.

Also if Crime and Punishment is a problem, my collection of antique textbooks would give that young person anaphylactic shock.
posted by winna at 4:36 PM on June 20, 2012 [5 favorites]


I'd probably include stuff like Protocols of the Elders of Zion and maybe the Rush Limbaugh books but I can second that list I guess. Liking Hemingway would make someone undatable I guess.
posted by Ad hominem at 4:36 PM on June 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


Or maybe I'm just attracted to drunks.
posted by Lutoslawski at 4:36 PM on June 20, 2012 [4 favorites]


Okay, fine, I get that this is supposed to be snark, but having an e-reader is bad? Regardless of the book being read? Really?

Yeeeeeah. I read books, dammit, not printed codices. Did Nabokov work in front of a printing-press? Am I reading handwritten first drafts? Then how the hell is my e-ink version any more or less legitimate than the mass-produced codex that happens to contain exactly the same words in the same order?
posted by Tomorrowful at 4:36 PM on June 20, 2012 [22 favorites]


I must be way out of it, because I don't know who Tao Lin is or why he put a guy doing goatse with a conch shell on his book cover [book cover, not goatse]. But that would appear to be all I have to know.
posted by The Bellman at 4:37 PM on June 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


Several women we spoke to noted The Game, 'which is really just a guide for how to be a douchebag.' For us, the fact that you can buy a copy in 'imitation leather' is proof enough of that.

I have many leather-bound books, and my apartment smells of rich mahogany!
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 4:37 PM on June 20, 2012 [14 favorites]


This reads more like a list of reasons why most people are awful snobs.
posted by Bookhouse at 4:37 PM on June 20, 2012 [19 favorites]


Anything by Buzz Aldrin, of course. Not that I'm dating, what with the being married for 10 years thing. But still...!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:39 PM on June 20, 2012


I just can’t help but think of my teenage heroine Kat Stratford groaning, ‘Hemingway? He was an abusive, alcoholic misogynist who squandered half of his life hanging around Picasso trying to nail his leftovers.’ Oh snap.”

Okay, if your reaction to Earnest Hemmingway is to quote a snarky line you wrote for "10 Things I Hate About You", 13 years ago... well it says someone is undateable, I'm just not sure it's the person who owns the Hemingway book.
posted by Grimgrin at 4:39 PM on June 20, 2012 [32 favorites]


In my lonely twenties, I spent a lot of my internet time on the SomethingAwful forums, which is perhaps as good a guide to the behavior of men who think that no women are watching them as you can get without actual farts being involved.

As a result of their book discussion group, I retain a wariness about fans of Chuck Palahniuk and of House of Leaves. Not for the actual works themselves, necessarily -- just the fans. (Sadly, this is also true of Lovecraft fans, and that's why it took me years to realize how completely addictive his stuff was.)
posted by Countess Elena at 4:40 PM on June 20, 2012 [3 favorites]


Congratulations, MeFi, you took the Linkbait. Flavorwire is eating you for dinner.
posted by oneswellfoop at 4:40 PM on June 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


Whew. Glad they didn't mention my multi-shelf collection of Beanie Baby price guides.
posted by Kafkaesque at 4:40 PM on June 20, 2012 [31 favorites]


The people who make these kind of lists are never in a position to act on their cute little dictums, so don't let it bother you, folks.

I insist on being bothered by this!
posted by clockzero at 4:40 PM on June 20, 2012 [5 favorites]


I don't understand why T.C. Boyle got mixed up with this either.

Boyle books compel me to read them in a single sitting, and actually give me something to think about for a week or two. That's rare.
posted by broadway bill at 4:40 PM on June 20, 2012


I will defend Hemingway with my dying breath, and appreciate Bukowki and men who like him lots more than me, but if a woman felt a tiny red flag when a guy brought them up, I wouldn't think she was entirely off base.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 4:41 PM on June 20, 2012 [11 favorites]


I love seeing Bukowski and HST on these sort of negative lists, though. I loathe both writers, and so I really love those rare moments when they and their followers are smacked down.
posted by broadway bill at 4:41 PM on June 20, 2012 [3 favorites]


As a voracious reader of fiction -- and, well, basically everything -- you may be surprised to know that my "list" is all of zero books long. Seriously. I think of the worst books I've ever read, and if i found someone who truly loved them, I would just be really, really curious as to why they loved them. Now, if they got all defensive about it and couldn't stand to have their precious book criticized, THAT would make them undateable.

Then again, I'm the kind of person who, right after I finish a book, I go straight to Amazon to read the negative reviews, even if I really loved the book. Very rarely will negative reviews change my mind, but I just generally like reading criticism, and think that if you truly love something, you should love it for its faults.

Also, there's nothing wrong with reading The Game, or even any of the other pickup artist material, but if you're dumb enough to put it on your bookshelf, that's your dumb fault. Hell, that's worse than putting your Java reference manuals on your bookshelf. A bookshelf is a showcase. Everything else lives on the Kindle.
posted by Afroblanco at 4:41 PM on June 20, 2012 [21 favorites]


I must be way out of it, because I don't know who Tao Lin is

I'm guessing Tao Lin payed, or bribed someone with adderall, to be on that list for the press. He is right now eagerly watching this conversation planning his next publicity coup.

He is also MeFi's own in a sort of perverted way.
posted by Ad hominem at 4:42 PM on June 20, 2012 [6 favorites]


On page one I immediately knew what page fifteen was going to be and dreaded finding myself proven right. It's because people who use the libraries are big losers.
posted by Winnemac at 4:42 PM on June 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


As a voracious reader of fiction -- and, well, basically everything -- you may be surprised to know that my "list" is all of zero books long. Seriously. I think of the worst books I've ever read, and if i found someone who truly loved them, I would just be really, really curious as to why they loved them. Now, if they got all defensive about it and couldn't stand to have their precious book criticized, THAT would make them undateable.

Honestly, I think this is the most sensible position. But we're not here to arrive at sensible determinations, are we?
posted by clockzero at 4:43 PM on June 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


I can sort of understand this list if you assume they mean "books people leave out conspicuously in order to impress" not "books people have read and/or liked."
posted by restless_nomad at 4:43 PM on June 20, 2012 [6 favorites]


More categorical than authorial, but I am highly suspicious of men who have no fiction on their shelves, or no fiction that is not considered "great literature".

I find that people who don't at least occasionally have the urge to read about swashbuckling or dragons or Great Adventures are, at best, incompatible with me and, at worst, deadly boring.
posted by WidgetAlley at 4:44 PM on June 20, 2012 [10 favorites]


I feel like I should mention that my copy of Infinite Jest has proven to be an invaluable tool in my life. I've used it as a stepping stool, to straighten out a broken couch, hold open a door while moving, kill a scorpion, throw at what in my half-awake delirium I thought to be a burglar, hold down a circuit board for soldering, and so much more!

At one point, I even finished the first chapter before realizing how badly it was hurting my wrists.
posted by Shadax at 4:44 PM on June 20, 2012 [40 favorites]


I think Ayn Rand is the only one that really makes my list—primarily because, if you reeeeeeally like Ayn Rand, you probably like yourself a lot more than you're ever going to like me. That's kind of terrible.
posted by sonic meat machine at 4:45 PM on June 20, 2012 [6 favorites]


Can someone explain why TC Boyle was thrown in there?
posted by lemur at 4:47 PM on June 20, 2012 [3 favorites]


The people who make these kind of lists are never in a position to act on their cute little dictums,

Srsly. I think "Having X on your shelf is a deal-breaker" (whether X is Atlas Shrugged or Twilight) has joined "I like candlelit dinners and long walks on the beach" as a dating cliche.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 4:47 PM on June 20, 2012 [5 favorites]


I have to admit with Shadax that the advent of the e-reader has made bookstop tomes much easier to read. One can leave the actual physical book propping open a door, or making the tv high enough to slide the DVD player under one side, but still read it.

There are a lot of authors that, were I to spot them on the shelves, would make me suspicious in a 'too good to be true' kind of way.
posted by winna at 4:47 PM on June 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


If someone has an e-reader it makes it much harder to harshly judge them on books they may have read.
posted by SpaceWarp13 at 4:48 PM on June 20, 2012 [7 favorites]


He is right now eagerly watching this conversation planning his next publicity coup.

I feel like he has a google alert hooked up to some kind of Rube Goldberg-esque wanking machine that pleasures him tenderly every time someone talks shit about him on the internets.
posted by elizardbits at 4:50 PM on June 20, 2012 [12 favorites]


FICTION FROM THESE IN HARDCOVER = RUN, RUN LIKE THE WIIIIIIIND
Piers Anthony
Glenn Beck
Dan Brown
James Patterson & Ghostwriter of the Week
any Christian dating book with True Love Waits(tm) as a subtitle

PERSONAL "NOPE NOPE NOPE"S
the only reference book is a dusty 1990s dictionary in pristine, unopened condition
a well-thumbed copy of Theodore Dreiser's Sister Carrie
any version of The Education of Little Tree
Mein Kampf if not shelved in your sizable, obvious World War II history / Holocaust analysis / Judaica studies section
posted by nicebookrack at 4:50 PM on June 20, 2012 [3 favorites]


*Incorrect/heretical edition of your favorite RPG*
posted by Winnemac at 4:52 PM on June 20, 2012 [21 favorites]


Though I wasn't romantically interested in her, a woman I once visited appeared to have only four books in her entire apartment - two on import and export, another on something like ceramics and the last was a guide book to a Far Eastern country. I jokingly suggested that she was moving into importing pottery from Thailand and she replied that yes, that was exactly what she was doing, how did I know?

That would have been a bit of a flashing red light were it not for my own repellent form and nature rendering the whole question moot.
posted by Grangousier at 4:52 PM on June 20, 2012 [15 favorites]


...Rube Goldberg-esque wanking machine that pleasures him tenderly every time someone talks shit about him on the internets.

I'm pretty sure that a looping GIF of that machine in action that says "haters gonna hate" is what brings the internet to consciousness.
posted by griphus at 4:54 PM on June 20, 2012 [8 favorites]


Here is the book I am afraid to even google for:

Chemistry of High Explosives.

Anything else is chopped liver.
posted by bukvich at 4:54 PM on June 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


Srsly. I think "Having X on your shelf is a deal-breaker" (whether X is Atlas Shrugged or Twilight) has joined "I like candlelit dinners and long walks on the beach" as a dating cliche.

But what if X is:

- a severed head
- feces
- a camera that tracks your movements
- a Thomas Kinkade painting
- Going Rogue
posted by brain_drain at 4:54 PM on June 20, 2012 [21 favorites]


Well, I was going to say that I had no deal-killers. But it turns out, I probably wouldn't screw a person who had a deep collection of books by FOX News pundits. Political conservatism I can deal with but not latter-day dittoheads. And a person with a large collection of bodice-ripping Fabio-styled romance paperbacks would remind me too much of a couple of family members.

Hopefully I'd see something that I have in my collection, and something I'd want to borrow and talk about for next week's foreplay.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 4:54 PM on June 20, 2012


Do not get the inclusion of TC Boyle. What do the haters have on this guy? Is it the hair?
posted by xmutex at 4:56 PM on June 20, 2012


Anything by Chuck Palahniuk.
The Hunger Games.
Anything on an e-reader.


Opinions that make you undateable.
posted by trunk muffins at 4:56 PM on June 20, 2012 [12 favorites]



Can someone explain why TC Boyle was thrown in there?
posted by lemur at 4:47 PM on June 20 [+] [!]


Ignorance?
posted by dontoine at 4:57 PM on June 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


FICTION FROM THESE IN HARDCOVER = RUN, RUN LIKE THE WIIIIIIIND
Piers Anthony


I just reread the Apprentice Adept books - they've been on my shelves one way or another since I was about nine. I adored the first three for quite a few years.

Oh.

My.

God.

I got rid of them. If I saw them on my shelves, *I* wouldn't date me.
posted by restless_nomad at 5:00 PM on June 20, 2012 [38 favorites]


I once dated a guy with an immediate red flag of having no books except an entire shelf of Star Trek novelizations - which, yes, was indeed a clue that we were not compatible. But I was more interested in the sex, and on that front he did not disappoint.

So I guess what I'm saying is, you know, you can be judgemental as long as it doesn't get in the way of your priorities.
posted by flex at 5:01 PM on June 20, 2012 [6 favorites]


Yeah, I am kind of personally freaked out by how long it took preteen me to figure out that Piers Anthony was a creepy fucking pedo.
posted by elizardbits at 5:02 PM on June 20, 2012 [24 favorites]


So what the pattern that emerges from their precious insights? None. That's right folks. It all boils down to a list of what this one person (x15) doesn't like. Besides, if you're a dude trying to impress the opposite sex with books, you're doing it all wrong.
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 5:03 PM on June 20, 2012 [4 favorites]


I have to agree with no books being the worst possible option. That being said, I have a hard time finding people my age who read nearly as much as I do.
posted by graxe at 5:03 PM on June 20, 2012


Restless Nomad
As a precocious preteen, I was also really into Piers Anthony. It had broad social satire, puns, and all the mild ribaldry a midly horny and incredibly confused 10 year old could ever want. Then I revisited then once I figured out how junks work both by themselves and in the company of others and holy god why is that man not in prison.
posted by Shadax at 5:04 PM on June 20, 2012 [10 favorites]


I can't believe Chicken Soup for the Whateverthefuck didn't make the list. That list is dumb.
posted by scratch at 5:05 PM on June 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


If someone has an e-reader it makes it much harder to harshly judge them on books they may have read.

No one has to know that I have "License to Pawn"* on my e-reader.

* Surprisingly good.
posted by drezdn at 5:05 PM on June 20, 2012


New personal entry: 50 Shades of Gray.

No, not because it's kinky, not because it's a totally unrealistic portrayal of BDSM but mainly because the writing is about as sexy and erotic as an outdated phone book. Less, actually.
posted by loquacious at 5:06 PM on June 20, 2012 [4 favorites]


PERSONAL "NOPE NOPE NOPE"S..
Mein Kampf if not shelved in your sizable, obvious World War II history / Holocaust analysis / Judaica studies section


Is it ok if I have it in my Japanese Literature collection?
posted by charlie don't surf at 5:11 PM on June 20, 2012


Outdated phone books. Because fuck those people.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 5:12 PM on June 20, 2012 [9 favorites]


50 Shades of Grey joins the Twilight books on my list of books that I am content not to read because, while they may be entertaining in their badness, the crushingly terrible prose isn't worth it. Besides, there are enough spoofs, takedowns, and hilarious live readings that I don't feel like I'm missing out. (For example: the cast of Snow White and the Huntsman read a snippet.)
posted by restless_nomad at 5:12 PM on June 20, 2012 [3 favorites]


It's a wonder I ever got married.
posted by Zed at 5:13 PM on June 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


It should go without saying that peoples' relationship with books is too complicated to boil down to "on the shelf = dealbreaker".

I have a dog-eared copy of The DaVinci Code sitting at right about eye level on a bookshelf filled with contemporary and classic literature, history, sociology, and mathematics. I bought it from a hospital gift shop on the night my grandmother - a person who helped raise me just about as much as my parents did - developed diverticulitis and nearly died. I read the book in four or five hours while she was in surgery. I'm pretty sure I had just turned the last page when the doctor came and told us she was safely in the recovery room.

Is it schlock? Sure. I was 18 and even I knew that. But it was mindless schlock, literary nonsense that helped get me through one of the most trying times in my life. It's been almost 10 years, my grandmother is thankfully alive and well, and that book has survived three cities, eight apartments, and two bookshelves. And you know what? Fuck anyone who'd be as much of a snob as to look down on me, or anyone else for that matter, for keeping it around.
posted by downing street memo at 5:13 PM on June 20, 2012 [43 favorites]


I was tired of my lady
We'd been together too long
Like a worn-out recording
Of a favorite song
So while she lay there sleeping
I read a letter in bed
And in the LRB columns
There was this letter I read

"If you like Das Glasperlenspiel
And Masuji Ibuse's Black Rain
If you're not into Dan Brown
If you have Ingenious Pain
If you'd like reading Proust at midnight
In the dunes on the Cape
Then I'm the love that you've looked for
Write to me and escape."

I didn't think about my lady
I know that sounds kind of mean
But me and my old lady
Have fallen into the same old dull routine
So I wrote to the paper
Took out a personal ad
And though I'm no Alex Pope
I thought it wasn't half bad

"Yes I like Das Glasperlenspiel
And Huysmans' Against the Grain
I'm not much for Tom Clancy
I like Richard J. Lane
I've got to meet you by tomorrow noon
And cut through all this red-tape
At a bar called O'Malley's
Where we'll plan our escape."

So I waited with high hopes
And she walked in the place
I knew her smile in an instant
I knew the curve of her face
It was my own lovely lady
And she said, "Oh it's you."
Then we laughed for a moment
And I said, "I never knew."

That you like The Human Stain
Getting caught in the rain
And the feel of the ocean
And the taste of champagne
If you've enjoyed The Hours
In the dunes of the Cape
You're the lady I've looked for
Come with me and escape

posted by winna at 5:13 PM on June 20, 2012 [28 favorites]


I was about to say that was ridiculous.

Then I remembered Ayn Rand.

(Okay "undatable" is a bit strong. Contemptible? Sure. Would it be a sign that a long term relationship might not work? Probably. But its not something that would cause me not to want to hang out with someone at all or not be attracted to them if they were otherwise beautiful.)
posted by delmoi at 5:13 PM on June 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


Anybody with copies of The Bread Bible, Essential Calculus, Algorithms, Applied Combinatorics, Principia Discordia, The Book of Leviathan, and Buying a Car for Dummies is probably the one for me.
posted by 200burritos at 5:13 PM on June 20, 2012 [7 favorites]


Undateable? Probably not. Picking out curtains? No. God, no.
posted by Celsius1414 at 5:14 PM on June 20, 2012


IRFH: phonebooks in general. Because the only thing they're good for these days is keeping your 1940's princess phone from leaving rubber footprints on the end table. Although if you have a 1940's phone still hooked up and working then I guess it's okay.
posted by mcrandello at 5:16 PM on June 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


I love seeing Bukowski and HST on these sort of negative lists, though. I loathe both writers, and so I really love those rare moments when they and their followers are smacked down.

Yes, I certainly feel smacked down by this vapid list containing at least four things I own/have enjoyed (including numerous works by HST, horror!) that would make me undateable to some possibly sizable group of wankers, oh noes. I will undoubtedly cry myself to sleep tonight in the hair of my wonderful, loving girlfriend who thankfully isn't one of the aforementioned judgmental losers, probably right after we have sex. Fuck my life!
posted by adamdschneider at 5:16 PM on June 20, 2012 [10 favorites]


I don't think any book is a deal breaker simply by virtue of its mere presence in someone's home. Even Ayn Rand can be read out of curiosity and kept around for reference when one needs to bolster an argument about her crappiness.

On the other hand, if the name "Ayn Rand" pops up in your conversation, frequently, with an admiring tone... that's an altogether different thing.

(And re: Hemingway. I just read "The Sun Also Rises." Misogynist my ass. Lady Brett is quite the liberated woman for the period, sleeping with whomever she likes with the full knowledge of both the man she expects to marry, and the man she claims to actually love. And people who dislike Hemingway for the macho stuff, I think, fail to notice how most of the time his male leads are flawed and struggling with the difficulties of machismo "codes.")
posted by dnash at 5:18 PM on June 20, 2012 [10 favorites]


200burritos: my shelves are full of both bread baking books and combinatorics books. I am, of course, taken as Mrs. Madness had the same strange standards as yourself.
posted by monkeymadness at 5:19 PM on June 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


Personally, I long ago gave up the idea of checking for certain tastes in books. In my youth, when I first went looking for nerd boys, I gravitated towards other Terry Pratchett and Douglas Adams fans -- and then gravitated right the hell away again. Some of the finest people I know have terrible taste in media; some of them have excellent taste. It doesn't make nearly as much difference as I once thought it did.
posted by Countess Elena at 5:20 PM on June 20, 2012 [6 favorites]


A very attractive Italian girl started a conversation with me at a bar in SF once on the basis of the book I was reading.

What book was that, you ask? Of course it was Andrea Kern's Quellen des Wissens: Zum Begriff vernünftiger Erkenntnisfähigkeiten.

Later I read a very nice paperback edition of a Henry James novella (The Lesson of the Master) in a nearby bar. No one cared a whit.

So there you have it. German epistemology > Henry James.
posted by kenko at 5:21 PM on June 20, 2012 [5 favorites]


I'd never dare to read the Protocols of the Elders of Zion in public, during my daily commute. I am not so much worried that it would make me look repellent, but the kind of people that would be compelled to like me, and maybe even approach me and try to strike a conversation with me, because of seeing me with the book.

Also, while I don't want to be identified by the book and I'm not seeking it out, if I came across a copy I might pick it up and read it out of historical curiosity.

So, two comments:
- It's not the books you read, it's the books you can be identified by. Because they are the gross of your library, because they are the only books you own, because they don't know you and their first impression of you is seeing you holding that book on a train.

- The books that make you undateable to some make you more dateable to others. My dealbreaker is horoscopes and pseudo-kaballah and The Secret and those things. They just kill my libido. To others, they may be a turn-on, or represent a challenge. Horses for courses.

Other people have other dealbreakers: once a likely prospect for sex lectured me for owning a thumbed copy of The Bell Curve. I had to point out that I also had an equally well-read copy of Not In Our Genes, which was in the other end of the flat. My joke was that I didn't dare have them in the same room, in case they went critical. No, I didn't get laid that day. But I got a Metafilter anecdote out of it.
posted by kandinski at 5:21 PM on June 20, 2012 [13 favorites]


Yeah, the whole "dealbreaker if on the shelf" thing is a bit weird. Of course, if these are the person's only books, or close to it, or they leave them out or talk about them incessantly, that's a bit different.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 5:21 PM on June 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


50 Shades of Grey joins the Twilight books on my list of books that I am content not to read because, while they may be entertaining in their badness, the crushingly terrible prose isn't worth it.

You do know that 50 Shades started out life as Twilight fan fiction, right? I haven't looked but I'm told you can find the original online still. The author changed the character names, is all.
posted by dnash at 5:21 PM on June 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


Some of the Flavorwire respondents take the question in an odd way. For instance, yeah, "any man over a certain age who still idolizes" The Catcher in the Rye is probably not a great catch. But you can still appreciate, even own, the book without idolizing it.
posted by kenko at 5:22 PM on June 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


Yeah this list is pretty absurd. If you're so touchy that you can't date anyone who owns Twilight, or a Kindle, or Dostoevsky, you're probably a pretty ridiculous person who most people wouldn't want to date anyway.
posted by delmoi at 5:23 PM on June 20, 2012 [3 favorites]


jcreigh: "Okay, fine, I get that this is supposed to be snark, but having an e-reader is bad? Regardless of the book being read? Really?"

The wife got me a Nook Tablet for father's day. Now I want to know why!
posted by Splunge at 5:24 PM on June 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


On the plus side, I now know which books to hollow out in order to hide my high-tech spy tools, golden gun, and primo BC hydroponics in.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 5:26 PM on June 20, 2012 [7 favorites]


Oh, and my bookcases contain Proust AND Harry Potter AND Tolkien AND Hemingway AND Joyce AND Forster AND Durrell AND Coupland. Among many others. So, y'know, g'head. Pigeonhole me on the basis of one author.
posted by dnash at 5:27 PM on June 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


I'm somewhat puzzled by lists like these. The idea of writing someone off simply because they own a book that I don't like, or that I'm ideologically opposed to, is just bizarre. Heck, I own books that I don't like but somehow survived the latest pre-moving purge, and books that I do like despite being ideologically opposed to them, and books that I'm a little embarrassed to like because they're unforgivably trashy (I genuinely enjoyed The Da Vinci Code, despite not actually being able to point to a single redeeming feature when challenged). Exposing yourself to a rich mixture of diverse ideas, ideologies, and styles is the whole point.

Sure I'd look askance at someone who had a shelf full of ghostwritten celebrity autobiographies and nothing else, but I'd at least have a conversation and try to learn what they found in the books that was so valuable. If celebrity gossip really is their only interest in life then, yes, we have a problem. But it's conversation, not the books, that reveals that.

nicebookrack - Mein Kampf if not shelved in your sizable, obvious World War II history / Holocaust analysis / Judaica studies section"
Really? Weirdly, I was re-reading the "I Knew It Was Over When" thread yesterday evening (file under "unforgivably trashy", but it's not like I printed a copy for my bookshelf) and saw owning a copy of Mein Kampf mentioned as a dealbreaker there, too. It's an historic document, a window into the mind of one of modern history's most famously evil and influential people, and a glimpse of what motivations led most of a country to follow him. I really can't empathise with the idea that someone must have some creepy motivation to want to learn about the worldviews of someone they dislike. People I dislike are generally the most interesting and informative ones to read about, as forcing me to consider alternative perspectives and to model other people's experiences of the world is, in my opinion, most of the purpose of art, never mind just literature.
Fantastic username, by the way.

winna - I have to admit with Shadax that the advent of the e-reader has made bookstop tomes much easier to read. One can leave the actual physical book propping open a door, or making the tv high enough to slide the DVD player under one side, but still read it.

I always used to joke about this, but then I was given a hardbound copy of Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell, the version that had all of it in one volume. Took me ages to read, simply because the damn thing was too heavy to hold up in bed for more than 15 minutes at a time.

Also, I love that poem, thanks.
posted by metaBugs at 5:27 PM on June 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


I reread Catcher about a year ago. I thought it held up pretty well, actually. Caulfield seemed inexplicably likable, given that he mainly struck me as a complete idiot with a comically unjustified sense of superiority to everything around him. Maybe that's how I actually biew my own teenage self.
posted by thelonius at 5:29 PM on June 20, 2012


Ha, view.
posted by thelonius at 5:30 PM on June 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


I'm suddenly fascinated by these awful, mindlessly worshipped books that follow this The Fucking Answer To Everything naming convention: The Rules, The Game, The Secret. What are some others?

Tao Lin's Richard Yates is strange and worth the read. Many people who read it are guaranteed to viscerally HATE HATE HATE it, but they tend to have trouble articulating why in my opinion.
posted by naju at 5:31 PM on June 20, 2012


But what if X is:
- a severed head


I have a squirrel skull skull on my bookshelf.

This means I'm not gettin' a kiss tonight, doesn't it?
posted by lekvar at 5:32 PM on June 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


The problem with Hunter S Thompson is the same as the problem with Ad Reinhardt or Pablo Picasso. All these assholes read Thompson and think they can skip over the learning the craft part of the process; they figure they, too, can just dump the rules, and they will also be brilliant in their writing. But they're not. Because they have no idea how to get to the right end with the rules, they have no hope of getting to the right end without the rules. They have no fucking clue how to what is supposed to be there, what writing is supposed to accomplish.

Anyway.
posted by crush-onastick at 5:33 PM on June 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


So...:

Zizek: (a) makes you a poseur, but (b) still a worthy read.

Well...they're half right...
posted by Fists O'Fury at 5:36 PM on June 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm surprised Stephen King isn't at the top of that list.
posted by freakazoid at 5:38 PM on June 20, 2012


I dunno, if a guy I was dating had Twilight on their bookshelf I would be pretty turned off. Because...just no.
posted by littlesq at 5:39 PM on June 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


What, no John Norman?
posted by gimonca at 5:41 PM on June 20, 2012


The idea of writing someone off simply because they own a book that I don't like, or that I'm ideologically opposed to, is just bizarre.

It's an online-dating mentality.

"OOOH, MINOR FLAW! BEGONE! DEALLLL -- BREAKER!!!!"
posted by jason's_planet at 5:41 PM on June 20, 2012 [8 favorites]


I just glanced at my library and realized that there's no way I would date me.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 5:42 PM on June 20, 2012 [12 favorites]


More categorical than authorial, but I am highly suspicious of men who have no fiction on their shelves, or no fiction that is not considered "great literature".

I see a lot of men on Goodreads who have nothing but pop-business and Christian books. They are almost always married to women women who have nothing but child rearing and Christian child rearing books.
posted by bongo_x at 5:45 PM on June 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


“Richard Yates by Tao Lin.”

I borrowed it from a pretty cool dude and I'd like to think I'm a reasonably cool dude so this one is lies. Also, I don't hate it, it's a decent character study but the plot is not really there. Maybe there will be plot in the last 50 pages? IDK. I adore Tao Lin, though, as a person and as an internet person.
posted by the young rope-rider at 5:46 PM on June 20, 2012


Oh come on. Crime and Punishment makes you undateable? on a Kindle? That's stupid.
posted by scunning at 5:47 PM on June 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


I think a more important metric is how diverse a person's bookshelves are.

But now I have a growing list of books to look for at thrift stores to help me weed out people who find curious readers undateable. I already have The Game, Mein Kampf, and Twilight but clearly I'm slacking.

I was raised to believe it's incredibly important to expose yourself to offensive viewpoints and really understand what others believe by going straight to the source, and that no book - no matter how offensive - should be banned, legally or socially. My aunt collected a whole shelf of anti-Semitic literature a when she converted to Judaism, which is how I learned about holocaust denialism.

I think it's weird some people only read books they agree with.

You guys should see my Netflix queue.
posted by subject_verb_remainder at 5:48 PM on June 20, 2012 [7 favorites]


Hey, someone who reads ANYTHING is a better option than someone who doesn't.

And hating on e-readers is so five minutes ago. I wouldn't date anyone who hates e-readers.*

*NB: I am married, so not dating* anyway

*unless you're Robert Downey Jr....call me

posted by biscotti at 5:48 PM on June 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


Psh. Not only would I make my own best date, I married myself based entirely on the contents of my library.
posted by Nomyte at 5:48 PM on June 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


As for the bodice rippers... I was dating a young lady for a while and she was a wonderful, intelligent and humorous person. The first time I was invited to her apartment I noticed one of those ghastly things on a window sill in the bathroom. When I asked her about it she actually blushed. It was here dreadful secret. She was addicted to the things. Otherwise completely normal. Or at least as normal as anyone who would date me. If I had seen the book first and judged her by it I would have missed some of the best times of my life.

So fuck this kind of linkbait.
posted by Splunge at 5:50 PM on June 20, 2012 [7 favorites]


I expected all Ayn Rand's books with Atlas Shrugged repeated, but I'd forgotten about L. Ron Hubbard, apologies to the Ayn Rand fans.

Is she criticizing books or authors? Rand gets only The Fountain Head mentioned specifically, but Thompson and Hemingway get mentioned as only men shouldn't be too into them. I felt her criticism of The Catcher in the Rye sounded sexist too.

I'm pleased she dissed Twilight, but honestly Harry Potter deserved mention, given it's (a) so childish and (b) connotes such ignorance. I'm surprised she never mentioned D&D or comic books though.
posted by jeffburdges at 5:50 PM on June 20, 2012


I don't object to e-readers per se, but... if you have read Infinite Jest, you know it can't be done on an e-reader. Infinite Jest requires a physical copy of the book and two bookmarks, one for the main story and one for the footnotes. I imagine it could be e-formatted in such a way that one might be able to reference the appropriate material immediately but what I imagine is overcomplicated and awful.


Now if you say you have read Infinite Jest on an e-reader, that might render you undateable. Not because of the device, but because of the lying.
posted by louche mustachio at 5:52 PM on June 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


Anybody who assumes owning = subscribing to the philosophies of doesn't deserve to have someone of reasonable intelligence as a SO.

I don't have all of them at present because of general attempts to shrink my book collection, but I have one point or another owned: The first five or six Left Behind books. Mary Pride's The Way Home. Hal Lindsey's The Late Great Planet Earth. At least a couple Ayn Rand books. Several Goodkind novels. Every Pern book ever written by the original author. Quite a lot of Piers Anthony novels. A couple books on the Christian take on Intelligent Design in schools and homeschooling. Several large books on sewing and housekeeping, which are of genuine use but tend to look bad with the aforementioned Mary Pride and Left Behind.

I happen to have a love of used bookstores, an occasional desire to read dumb fiction, and a more ongoing interest in reading major books cited by people I strongly disagree with so that I know where they're coming from. Sadly, because people are people, I have at times also purchased books *entirely* so that they could sit out on the shelf with the above books and prevent people from getting The Wrong Idea. Sigh.
posted by gracedissolved at 5:54 PM on June 20, 2012 [4 favorites]


Outside of Twilight, The Hunger Games, 50 shades of Gray, and The Game I’m sure we have all of those books on the shelf, even though I hate on a lot of them. We have a lot of books. And I sometimes like Chuck Plalkskjdhfofhgnaphone.

(Although my open mindedness would come to a screeching halt if someone had Ann Coulter, Glenn Beck, etc. without a really good explanation, like they were making paper mache. I’m not talking about dating, I mean talking to.)
posted by bongo_x at 5:54 PM on June 20, 2012 [3 favorites]


“Anything — I don’t care if it’s Infinite Jest or Lolita or Moby-Dick — if it’s on an e-reader. Sorry.”
Why not also write-off people who buy cheap paperbacks instead of hardcovers?

This is just arbitrary and superficial snobbery that indicates a preference for appearance over substance, and pretty much invalidates anything else these people have to say about literature.

Also, why someone chooses to read a given book and what they take away from it is likely far more revealing than the title of the book itself.

As an extreme example: Mein Kampf - assigned reading in college or something they picked up at a Klan rally?

Here's a genius idea: ask them.
posted by Davenhill at 5:55 PM on June 20, 2012 [3 favorites]


Hunter S. Fucking Thompson is on this list? The man was a great writer and a wonderful, humane, funny person.
posted by KokuRyu at 5:57 PM on June 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


Ad hominem He is also MeFi's own in a sort of perverted way.

hee-hee, Tao Lin was banned from Metafilter.
posted by mlis at 5:57 PM on June 20, 2012 [3 favorites]


Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead were, until I hit the point where I could no longer read them without gagging, among my favorite things to carry around when I was reading them, because people had opinions about them. And those opinions didn't just end with, "You're reading XXXXXXX? Nice." They led to conversations, which were usually much more interesting than even the small talk that comes up when I lug about an Infinite Jest or a Ulysses. (The looks of muted horror when I'm reading Finnegans Wake are amusing, though.)

Say what you will about your average Randroid, odds are they haven't studied much philosophy or politics or art or whatever other fields the Rand novels touch, but at least they're usually willing to talk about why they like Rand, and the ones I've talked to are able to handle a fair amount of criticism/inquiry without immediately turning defensive. Mention that you used to like Rand, but recently have been turned off her, and odds are you can start talking to them about what makes them interested in Objectivism, what got them into Rand, and that leads to talk about each other's lives that I find much more interesting than your usual public-transit conversation.

Plus there was something funny/intriguing about girls who'd talk to me when they saw I was reading The Fountainhead. I seem to recall one conversation freshman year where a girl sat down next to me and started talking about how too many people she knew were too scared to know what they wanted and take it when they saw it, and I was wondering if the innuendo was there or if I was just imagining it. Or maybe 18-year-old Rory imagined the whole thing and we'd really been talking about something much more innocuous. I was pretty distracted w/r/t girls that year.
posted by Rory Marinich at 5:58 PM on June 20, 2012 [7 favorites]


Exactly twice in my life (some years apart), I've been chatted up on the subway because of the book I was reading at the time. Both times I was reading David Malouf. The second conversation was very short; I have to admit I was mostly distracted by the concordance.
posted by .kobayashi. at 5:58 PM on June 20, 2012


I'm pleased she dissed Twilight, but honestly Harry Potter deserved mention, given it's (a) so childish and (b) connotes such ignorance. I'm surprised she never mentioned D&D or comic books though.

Ugh of course Harry Potter is childish. They were written with ten year olds in mind. That doesn't mean they're not good, though. At this point, the series is the fucking hallmark of the generation immediately beneath me in age (so, up to about 25 or so), so that's a huge contingent of people you'd be kicking out of bed for eating crackers.

Me, I'd much be with someone who reads everything and anything because thoughts are good and words are good and books are good and who care what they connote about you. Nuanced and informed opinions are much better than wild mass guessing.

But maybe I just still have something up my butt from this weekend when a friend of mine aggressively asked me if I hate stephenie meyer because she's "terrible" even though he's never read her and then asked me when I was going to write grown-up books because "isn't writing for kids simplistic." And then my head exploded.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 5:59 PM on June 20, 2012 [11 favorites]


I also read a physical copy of Infinite Jest, the first time I read it I read the footnotes in tandem with the text. The second time I read them all afterwards, like standalone snippets. Footnotes are handled pretty well in eReaders. In World War Z, there are links to and from the footnote, it is really pretty cool.
posted by Ad hominem at 6:00 PM on June 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


You, yes, you like some shitty book, and you know is a shitty book. You love it anyway.

Other people are just the same. Give them a break.
posted by bswinburn at 6:01 PM on June 20, 2012 [4 favorites]


Now if you say you have read Infinite Jest on an e-reader, that might render you undateable. Not because of the device, but because of the lying.

My Mom did it. You take that back!
posted by thelonius at 6:01 PM on June 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


having an e-reader is bad? Regardless of the book being read? Really?

No, not really. The people I see using e-readers the most when I travel, besides techie nerdy types like myself are military folks. I like books and it seems weird to diss people for reading them, unless you're judgey like that. Which I guess Flavorwire is?
posted by jessamyn at 6:02 PM on June 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


When I met the first lady that I dated after my wife passed away, I knew that we were going to get along FABULOUSLY when I found that she had floor-to-ceiling bookshelves on one wall of her bedroom full of sci-fi and fantasy paperbacks. We did, it was awesome, and three years later she's still one of my very best friends.

I'll take someone reading Twilight (but not regarding it as gospel) or Fifty Shades of Grey over someone who puts "I'm not much of a reader" on their OKCupid profile, any day.
posted by mrbill at 6:02 PM on June 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


Also, I love that poem, thanks.

It was a giant pain to switch out all the pina coladas from that song, let me tell you. And now I have it stuck in my head!
posted by winna at 6:04 PM on June 20, 2012


Books that have caused me in my reading to be interrupted by attractive, conversation-seeking strangers:
Donald Norman's The Design of Everyday Things
W.G. Sebald's After Nature

...that's all I know.
posted by oulipian at 6:06 PM on June 20, 2012


Not judging potential dates by a single book they love... hmm lets expand that notion into not judging anyone for a single item of media that they love. You never know what vapid book or movie may push them towards becoming a voracious reader or a film connoisseur and get into stuff that you do hold in high esteem.

The only book that ever inspired someone to chat me up was The Great Gatsby. I loved it but it is not very representative of my reading.
posted by soelo at 6:09 PM on June 20, 2012


Another big factor is the proportion of books read the less-desirable ones are. Like, if I meet someone who reads maybe three books a year and this year they were all the volumes of 50 Shades... I'm going to have a wildly different reaction than to someone who read those as one week's worth of a regular three-books-a-week diet.
posted by restless_nomad at 6:10 PM on June 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


I think I'm more concerned about the state of the books on the shelf than the content, honestly. Slightly worn? A few cracks in the spine that indicate rereading? Promising suggestion of many peaceful afternoons whiled away reading together!

I would probably become wary upon seeing would be multiple pseudoscientific books about diet. I will take bad taste in fiction over listening to someone explain why we evolved to never eat cheese any day.
posted by rhythm and booze at 6:10 PM on June 20, 2012 [4 favorites]


I'll let women copy my 10gig ebook collection on the first date, but it runs over half mathematics.
posted by jeffburdges at 6:11 PM on June 20, 2012


Ahem. David Brooks is on their recommended shelf.
posted by lathrop at 6:11 PM on June 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


Please, I beg of the universe: do not judge someone just by the books they have on their shelves. At least ask first.

For example, I have a surprisingly comprehensive collection of Sarah Palin books. It includes books that were (ostensibly) written by her, as well as those which were written by other people about her.

I was going to count them for you, but I can't without getting up from my computer, because I know there are more stashed here and there throughout my home. However, I have three Sarah Palin books within arm's reach as I type this.

It would be quite easy to judge and insta-dump me, were you to give my shelves a quick scan.

But!

I own all of these books because I write Sarah Palin-based political satire on a professional basis. And if one is being paid to essentially write Palin fanfic, one wishes to have a breadth of knowledge about one's topic, yes?

So keep that in mind, book-judgers. Maybe someone owns all the "50 Shades" or "Gross Ways To Manipulate And Insult Women" books because of the exact opposite reason that you assume.
posted by ErikaB at 6:12 PM on June 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


Shut the fuck up about Crime & Punishment.
posted by waitangi at 6:15 PM on June 20, 2012 [3 favorites]


I write Sarah Palin-based political satire on a professional basis

OMFG DREAM JOB
posted by BitterOldPunk at 6:15 PM on June 20, 2012 [9 favorites]


Sorry, that was meant for the writer of this list...
posted by waitangi at 6:16 PM on June 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


I wonder...

*searches page for "Twilight." Gets twelve hits.*

Carry on.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 6:19 PM on June 20, 2012


I used to worry about what librarians thought about me. Now we have self check-out, and I sort of miss feeling like someone might care about my intellectual hygiene. Good to know that there are people willing to step up, I guess.
posted by gingerest at 6:19 PM on June 20, 2012 [6 favorites]


I'm suddenly fascinated by these awful, mindlessly worshipped books that follow this The Fucking Answer To Everything naming convention: The Rules, The Game, The Secret.

While its naming convention may be like that, The Game does not purport to be a Fucking Answer to Everything, FYI.

Yes, I have a copy on my shelf. I will sell it to you if you like, or maybe even give it to you, if you are cool. At this point I only want books on shelves that I think I may read again (or once, if I haven't already).
posted by adamdschneider at 6:21 PM on June 20, 2012


I judge people solely by the quality of printing and binding on their shelves.
posted by charlie don't surf at 6:25 PM on June 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


Hmm. I've several of Ayn Rand's books on my shelf, and the notorious Camp of the Saints by Jean Raspail. Sometimes the best way to understand your enemy is to read their holy books.
posted by workerant at 6:26 PM on June 20, 2012 [3 favorites]


I own quite a books that have at one time or another been banned by school districts or governments, including Mein Kampf, Lolita, the Satanic Verses, Diary of Anne Frank, Kerouac and others. I own many works by controversial authors like Ayn Rand, Mark Levin, Richard Dawkins, Alan Dershowitz, Ann Coulter, Al Franken, Noam Chomsky, J.K. Rowling and others. I own copies of the Koran, parts of the Jewish Talmud, the New Testament, Bullfinches Mythology and the I Ching. I own books by a number of controversial gurus, including Andrew Wiel, Guru Purnima and Sai Baba. And I own books that no one should ever, ever read, like Fifty Shades of Gray,

People who would judge me or anyone else as "undateable" solely by the contents of my library are fucking morons. One can own and/or read a book without ascribing to its beliefs.

I own a copy of Battlefield Earth. That doesn't automatically make me a Scientologist. Anyone who thinks it does really should be labeled "undateable."
posted by zarq at 6:26 PM on June 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


I have a personal policy of not making fun of a book at length until I've actually read it.
posted by mrbill at 6:27 PM on June 20, 2012 [4 favorites]


I own a copy of Battlefield Earth

Was Mission Earth the huge series that had the scenes involving a cheese grater?
posted by mrbill at 6:29 PM on June 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


This is just arbitrary and superficial snobbery that indicates a preference for appearance over substance,

But..but...don't you get it? These people have standards! They aren't desperate - they'd rather be alone than date someone who reads Hemingway! I tell you, not desperate! Women and/or men are asking them out left and right, but they can afford to be picky! And not about superficial stuff, either, because judging someone on their appearance is just douchey, but judging them on the contents of their bookshelves is adorably quirky!

"Deal-breaker books" might have been adorably quirky once, but now it's just another cliche, and one that sends "I'm trying too hard" vibes at that. It makes me want to slap a copy of "Atlas Shrugged" on the coffee table alongside the entire Twilight collection and say "Ha! HA! I read Twilight AND Ayn Rand! How do you like THOSE apples?"
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 6:29 PM on June 20, 2012 [8 favorites]


I once dated a guy with an immediate red flag of having no books except an entire shelf of Star Trek novelizations

Reading Star Trek novelizations is not a red flag for me, but cornering me in the back of the local bar to describe the plot of your favorite is an absolute dealbreaker.
posted by immlass at 6:29 PM on June 20, 2012


I judge people solely by the quality of printing and binding on their shelves.


And you ignore the workmanship of the shelves themselves? I must be a snob, If a woman has shelves that are not constucted with proper half blind dovetail joints it is a huge red flag.Mortise and tennon joints may only last 200 years for god's sake!
posted by Ad hominem at 6:33 PM on June 20, 2012 [8 favorites]


Maybe the 'on your bookshelf' framing of this should be quibbled with. But the books you openly profess to love say an awful lot about who you are. Absolutely. Are people disputing this?
posted by naju at 6:37 PM on June 20, 2012


Was Mission Earth the huge series that had the scenes involving a cheese grater?

I've never read it. So I googled. The answer is yes.

You owe me some mind bleach.
posted by zarq at 6:38 PM on June 20, 2012 [3 favorites]


Were they the JOHN M. FORD Star Trek novelizations? Because those are pure class, all the way.
posted by nicebookrack at 6:40 PM on June 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


Were they the JOHN M. FORD Star Trek novelizations?

Deal breaker. Blish or go home.

If a woman has shelves that are not constucted with proper half blind dovetail joints it is a huge red flag.

Luddite. If they're not welded, how much can they expect to hold?
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 6:43 PM on June 20, 2012


Good, don't want to date anyone with a low opinion of e-readers anyway. They can keep their heavy dead trees.
posted by ElliotH at 6:45 PM on June 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


Deal breaker. Blish or go home.

No love for Peter David? :D
posted by zarq at 6:46 PM on June 20, 2012 [3 favorites]


You owe me some mind bleach.

Just be glad Hubbard's gone, or he'd re-title that volume "Fifty Shades of Gouda" and try to ride the popularity wave.
posted by mrbill at 6:46 PM on June 20, 2012 [4 favorites]


(Sadly, this is also true of Lovecraft fans, and that's why it took me years to realize how completely addictive his stuff was.)

Cultes des Goules, De Vermis Mysteriis, The Eltdown Shards, The Necronomicon (arabic), The Necronomicon (greek), The Necronomicon (latin), The People of the Monolith, The Pnakotic Manuscripts, Seven Cryptical Books of Hsan,Unaussprechlichen Kulten, Livre d’Eibon
posted by Artw at 6:47 PM on June 20, 2012 [3 favorites]


Just be glad Hubbard's gone, or he'd re-title that volume "Fifty Shades of Gouda" and try to ride the popularity wave.

HA! :D

Shhhh.... Larry Niven might hear you.
posted by zarq at 6:48 PM on June 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


"Fifty Shades of Gruyere".
posted by gingerest at 6:49 PM on June 20, 2012 [15 favorites]


Luddite. If they're not welded, how much can they expect to hold?

Welded is acceptable if they are constructed of 440 stainless but they must also be fully annealed. If they are made from aluminum they should be milled from a 6061-T6 billet. Anything less might corrode and ruin your copy of Chicken Soup for the Soul.
posted by Ad hominem at 6:53 PM on June 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


Nobody mentioned any religious book as a dealbreaker?

And ebooks are awesome. My kindle on iphone has got me back to my reading habits that were being slowly killed by my work and commute.
posted by vidur at 6:55 PM on June 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


If they are made from aluminum they should be milled from a 6061-T6 billet.

Sorry dude, steel is real.
posted by bongo_x at 6:57 PM on June 20, 2012


Me and my dad were pretty much the only people in our family who ever read for pleasure. I never had the luxury of judging people by their book collections because everyone I knew would walk into my house and exclaim "wow you really read all of these??" So mostly I'm pleased to meet anyone who likes to read at all, even if it's all trash. I'd rather talk about trashy books than about celebrities. And even people w terrible taste can be fun to talk to about books they really love.
posted by emjaybee at 7:09 PM on June 20, 2012 [3 favorites]


I mean, I'm not going to judge anyone for reading Twilight, but I will judge them so fucking hard for thinking it is 01) well-written, 02) romantic, 03) in any way representative of what young love with vampires and werewolves should be. It should be treated as all other historical atrocities are treated: it must be studied and dissected and prevented from ever happening again.


asked me when I was going to write grown-up books because "isn't writing for kids simplistic."

I hope slapping was involved shortly afterwards.
posted by elizardbits at 7:12 PM on June 20, 2012 [4 favorites]


No love for Peter David? :D

I was going to say that Imzadi and Sarek are totes appropriate books to corner people at bars about. They're love stories for chrissake!
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 7:15 PM on June 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


WHAP!
She began to beat the pepper in!
With all her might!
Agony!
Scorching, sizzling agony!
I lost control. I began to scream!
posted by Nomyte at 7:16 PM on June 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


"‘Hemingway? He was an abusive, alcoholic misogynist who squandered half of his life hanging around Picasso trying to nail his leftovers.’
While I share the modern reader's ambivalence over Hemingway, and while he was an alcoholic who did have serious issues when it came to women and gender, it's worth pointing out that the sentence above is total bullshit. Hemingway did not "squander half his life hanging around Picasso trying to nail his leftovers." Hemingway was a Miro man; he wasn't even that fond of Picasso!

There's no way that I'd date the fucking illiterate that made a mistake like that.
posted by octobersurprise at 7:26 PM on June 20, 2012 [3 favorites]


But what if X is:
- a severed head

I have a squirrel skull skull on my bookshelf.

This means I'm not gettin' a kiss tonight, doesn't it?


I dunno. Does the squirrel skull like you, or like you like you?

Personally, I have three completely different copies of books claiming to be the Necronomicon currently on my bookshelf and I've never met anyone that gave a toss.
posted by Sparx at 7:31 PM on June 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'll say this: I would rather lose my 80 gigabytes of music than my 100+ gigabytes of ebooks.
posted by mrbill at 7:32 PM on June 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


If I saw that a lady had a well-worn copy of Infinite Jest on her bookshelf (or, even better, by her bed) then even if she weren't the loveliest rose in the garden, I'd still be into her.

Most other books I'd be pretty indifferent about either way.
posted by Fister Roboto at 7:42 PM on June 20, 2012


Was Mission Earth the huge series that had the scenes involving a cheese grater?

I've never read it. So I googled. The answer is yes.


I don't know what was worse about that - the cheese grater bits or the excess exclamation marks.
posted by zennish at 7:49 PM on June 20, 2012


And you know what? Fuck anyone who'd be as much of a snob as to look down on me, or anyone else for that matter, for keeping it around.

While I found your story touching, I still don't think it's wrong not bothering to get to know someone because they have Dan Brown or Twilight on their shelves. There's often not the chance to deeply investigate the life stories of every single person and separate the wheat from the chaff without the aid of some useful shorthand, and I think even you have to admit that for every story of "this copy of Twilight was the only thing I had on-hand to fend off a hippopotamus attack and I keep it as a reminder of that dark day" there's about ten thousand people who just have shit taste in books.

We avoid people we personally find creepy/annoying because they make obvious social cues - body language, speech and the like - and I see no reason to extend that to other things if they work for you. Maybe that guy has Tourette's. Maybe that guy was just poorly socialized. Maybe that other guy is just cosplaying as a Nazi. But we rarely find ourselves making excuses for avoidance of people based on body language/speech cues as we do for book cues, and I don't think increased subjectivity is the reason (though book cues rarely come in isolation - you don't normally walk into an apartment of a person you've never met before and see their book collection; conversation usually reinforces the initial impression but you fixate on something obvious like a book afterwards). The important thing I think is a willingness to admit that you might be wrong if you get information or cues that contradicts an initial analysis.

Sure, maybe I'm wrongfully dismissing one or two people, but the amount of time I save and the number of people I manage to avoid whose company I would not enjoy (and vice versa) is certainly far greater, so I'm okay with it.
posted by Palindromedary at 7:50 PM on June 20, 2012 [3 favorites]


Related (and more amusing): It's Not You, It's Your Books
posted by Wordwoman at 7:51 PM on June 20, 2012


I have read many terrible books over the years. Hacky genre novels, pretentious literary fiction, half-baked history, and unfunny humor. Tons of Piers Anthony in my younger years. Who am I to judge?
posted by Area Man at 7:52 PM on June 20, 2012


f I came across a copy I might pick [The Protocols of the Elders of Zion] up and read it out of historical curiosity.

Earlier this year I came across a copy in a thrift store. It was only 25 cents and I considered buying it just out of curiosity. Then I realized that I really wasn't that curious. If I took it home I'd have to make space for it and why waste the space? And why devote the time to reading it when I could use that time for something more important, like dicking around on the internet?
posted by octobersurprise at 7:57 PM on June 20, 2012


The literal-mindedness of this thread depresses me. I don't think any of the answerers were advocating seeing a particular book on a nightstand and turning on one's heel to head for the door, for flip's sake.

The part that makes lists like this fun is that they tickle the same itch any metaphor or similie does: between the book and the book-lover there is a quintessence which can be recognised, even if not articulated, and in this case, whatever the shared quality is is a turn-off.

Anywho, if I had to pick one that wasn't in the list I'd go with a Confederacy of Dunces. It's a good book and can be liked, but every once in a while you run into someone who has an abiding passion for it, and those are the people that cause you to wonder if it's possible to get blood poisoning from nerd rage.

In conclusion, Bernard Black.
posted by Diablevert at 7:57 PM on June 20, 2012 [5 favorites]


This is obviously a terrible list and making such a list is a stupid exercise to begin with.

That said, I had two girlfriends in a row where the moment I realized it wasn't going to work long term was when I learned that they bought stuff from TV. It wasn't like Soft Rock Hits of the 80s, which wouldn't be that big a deal to me, but they were gadgets. One was a self-scooping litter box which, of course, didn't work.

Of course, back then I was too judgmental. Of course, I still am.
posted by snofoam at 7:58 PM on June 20, 2012


I'll say this: I would rather lose my 80 gigabytes of music than my 100+ gigabytes of ebooks.

Most ebooks are like 1MB or less... do you seriously have 100,000 ebooks? Because you're going to die before you read all those, man.
posted by nanojath at 8:00 PM on June 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


I will judge them so fucking hard for thinking it is 01) well-written, 02) romantic

Yeah, if I want well-written and romantic, I read Moon People.
posted by martinrebas at 8:02 PM on June 20, 2012


I just need to get to the point where women judge me on my books. So far they have been judging me on my looks and substance abuse issues.
posted by Ad hominem at 8:20 PM on June 20, 2012 [18 favorites]


What's a deal-breaker for me is no books. Any books, whether they reveal an obsession, represent a cross-section of NYT recommendations, or are all over the place are informative. No books tells me there is nothing going on here.
posted by jet_silver at 8:29 PM on June 20, 2012 [3 favorites]


So far they have been judging me on my looks and substance abuse issues.

A willingness to share your substances forgives a lot in the looks department. Or so I hear.
posted by octobersurprise at 8:30 PM on June 20, 2012 [4 favorites]


PEOPLE. It's a simple question: do I need to hide this, or don't I?
posted by MrBadExample at 8:35 PM on June 20, 2012 [9 favorites]


A willingness to share your substances forgives a lot in the looks department. Or so I hear.

yeah, if I shared it wouldn't be an issue for them it would be a substance abuse oppertunity.
posted by Ad hominem at 8:36 PM on June 20, 2012


“Anything — I don’t care if it’s Infinite Jest or Lolita or Moby-Dick — if it’s on an e-reader. Sorry.”

Obviously only has 10 books, the combination of focusing on the well-tread paths of standard fiction and the not understanding what it's like to have 4000 books in your possession.
posted by Ironmouth at 8:36 PM on June 20, 2012 [3 favorites]


I have a very nicely-bound 19th-century edition of some dude's collection of incunabula.

You want to end the date on a good note? Ask "would you like to come up and see my incunabula?"
posted by ubernostrum at 8:37 PM on June 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


Maybe the 'on your bookshelf' framing of this should be quibbled with. But the books you openly profess to love say an awful lot about who you are. Absolutely. Are people disputing this?

It depends. If the person is like (what I imagine to be) the average MeFite, they've got somewhere between 300-8000 books on shelves, in piles, under cushions, etc. And out of those hundreds of books, if a couple of them seem ...questionable... so what? But a lot of people don't own 300 books, or even 30. They've got a shelf with some knickknacks and maybe 15 books. And if I'm looking over that proud yet sad little shelf of fifteen books, and I saw something written by Bill O'Reilly and another thing written by Ann Coulter, chances are that the date would not last much longer.
posted by xigxag at 8:38 PM on June 20, 2012 [7 favorites]


something, something fore-edge painting.
posted by mlis at 8:47 PM on June 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


So, Infinite Jest actually works quite well on eReaders. Going back and forth between footnotes and main text is greatly streamlined by hyperlinks.
posted by lemur at 8:52 PM on June 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


If a woman has shelves that are not constucted with proper half blind dovetail joints it is a huge red flag. Mortise and tennon joints may only last 200 years for god's sake!

Was fixing to get all defensive of mortise and tennons and point out that you could wedge or drawbore them. Then I found myself asking how you'd even do half blind dovetails for shelves. Then a voice in the back of my head said, "You know dude, it's probable that this is just a joke."

I'm going back downstairs and make some more sawdust.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 8:56 PM on June 20, 2012 [5 favorites]


my hands dead
my heart dead
silence
adagio of rocks
the world ablaze
that's the best
for me.

posted by quietalittlewild at 9:00 PM on June 20, 2012


PEOPLE. It's a simple question: do I need to hide this, or don't I?

It depends. How many of those needlepoints did you make?

And how much would you sell them for?
posted by rhythm and booze at 9:02 PM on June 20, 2012


A few thoughts:

1. One of my best friends and favorite people on earth is an Ayn Rand fan. Probably not as much as he once was, but it was very formative to him. He is a self-described liberal, possibly the world's best storyteller, and a genuinely fantastically nice guy. He is also a guy who owns and occasionally wears his "Who is John Galt" t-shirt. The fact that the philosophy that he came away from the books with is drastically different from what others come away from them with is not the sort of thing that anyone would guess without getting to know him. (essentially, his take is that no one should have to live their life in service of him, and that it is his duty to make his life valuable, so sort of the inverse of the normal way of thinking about it.)

I would hate it if that aspect of him were what would keep people from dating him, is all. Because he is awesome.

2. I don't have an e-reader, but my girlfriend does, and basically is ruined for printed books by it. For that matter, so am I, I realize, because of the time I spend reading on my laptop. I finally recently made time for The Hunger Games, though, and that was worth it.

I think I should mention, just because I think it's so cool, that my gf also has a hollowed-out old book which she uses as a carrier for her e-reader so as to keep it from being stolen.

3. In regards to this:

*Incorrect/heretical edition of your favorite RPG*

Okay you got me. If someone owns the Complete Psionic and doesn't own every other book in the 3.5 Complete series, something is wrong.
posted by Navelgazer at 9:05 PM on June 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


Then I found myself asking how you'd even do half blind dovetails for shelves.

Not that I know anything besides what I see on New Yankee Workshop but I was envisioning the dovetails for the case, not the shelves. Plus it was a joke.
posted by Ad hominem at 9:08 PM on June 20, 2012


Okay you got me. If someone owns the Complete Psionic and doesn't own every other book in the 3.5 Complete series, something is wrong.

Why, what's wrong with having to tailor an entire campaign around a single class?
posted by griphus at 9:11 PM on June 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


More categorical than authorial, but I am highly suspicious of men who have no fiction on their shelves, or no fiction that is not considered "great literature".

I find that people who don't at least occasionally have the urge to read about swashbuckling or dragons or Great Adventures are, at best, incompatible with me and, at worst, deadly boring.


If you believe that swashbuckling, bizarre animals, and Great Adventures cannot be found in nonfiction, then you and I are indeed incompatible.

Seriously, while I haven't given up fiction completely, I find as I've grown older I'm drawn more and more to nonfiction because the real world is so utterly fascinating.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 9:22 PM on June 20, 2012


After all, ‘if you only read the books that everyone else is reading, you can only think what everyone else is thinking.’”

Mmm hmmm.
posted by Miko at 9:25 PM on June 20, 2012


It's a simple question: do I need to hide this, or don't I?

Hide? Hell, no. You set it out on a stand next to your copy of this.
posted by adamdschneider at 9:27 PM on June 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


dnash: okay.
posted by anewnadir at 9:33 PM on June 20, 2012


To be honest, I think this is an example of made up problems. If you really liked someone and they said one of the books on the unapproved list was their favorite you might find it interesting, like they may have found something in 50 Shades of Grey that nobody ever saw before. At the very least you would rationalize it away. Only if you really are not feeling it is the fact that they worship The Sun Also Rises going to be an issue. Having an eReader is a non starter , nobody ever blew off a person they liked for having a kindle, you gotta be digging real deep for a flaw.
posted by Ad hominem at 9:34 PM on June 20, 2012


So, I really enjoyed dinner, and you cat is a hoot, but... I've got to ask... Is that Ansel Adams anthology authorized by the estate?
posted by Devils Rancher at 9:44 PM on June 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


I can't believe Chicken Soup for the Whateverthefuck didn't make the list.

If I ever write a cookbook, it will be called Chicken Soup for the Mouth.
posted by Devils Rancher at 9:51 PM on June 20, 2012 [18 favorites]


I've always wanted to read Chicken Soup for the Vegan Soul.
posted by nicebookrack at 10:06 PM on June 20, 2012 [5 favorites]




They've got a shelf with some knickknacks and maybe 15 books.

In preparation for a move, I'm ridding myself of at least 800 books. I have been the person with walls devoted entirely to custom-built bookshelves filled with awesome, and I decided it's keeping me from pursuing other experiences in life due to all the books anchoring me in place.

The idea that, even though I will possess only a few boxes of books by next week, I'll still be OK because those few books won't be completely horrifying ones with Bill O'Reilly's name on them, is comforting.
posted by asperity at 10:12 PM on June 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


Also, boo to anyone who disses Charlaine Harris (Southern Vampire Mysteries). She's awesome.
posted by asperity at 10:15 PM on June 20, 2012


This list, especially with the ereader and Hemingway derision, annoyed me, but I'll say this: I read every Bret Easton Ellis book last summer (except Imperial Bedrooms) last summer, the actual books, not ereader, and guys started talking to me all. the. time.

It's like when I would order whiskey neat at bars. Those two things = tons of attention. Crazeballs.
posted by sweetkid at 10:17 PM on June 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


I've always wanted to read Chicken Soup for the Vegan Soul.

Kirk uses this in one of those Star Trek novelizations as a logic loop to defeat an evil self-aware computer.
posted by Devils Rancher at 10:35 PM on June 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


The People I Have Murdered: An Illustrated Diary
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 10:43 PM on June 20, 2012 [3 favorites]


I Am Standing Behind You With An Axe, Intent On Killing You

the cover is a recursive illustration of you reading the book while they raise the axe behind you
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 10:47 PM on June 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


So, they recommend American Psycho but nix Crime and Punishment? Ellis over Dostoevsky?
posted by krinklyfig at 10:53 PM on June 20, 2012


Crime and Punishment - only one homicide and not enough Huey Lewis, clearly.
posted by Hobo at 11:11 PM on June 20, 2012


I Am Standing Behind You With An Axe, Intent On Killing You

BOO!
posted by MrBadExample at 11:19 PM on June 20, 2012


Goodreads has such a list as well. Note that it includes Going Rogue as well as The Audacity of Hope.
posted by knile at 12:06 AM on June 21, 2012


You want to end the date on a good note? Ask "would you like to come up and see my incunabula?"

Hey, ubernostrum, it would work for me!

The only time I have looked at a date's bookshelves and thought "this is probably not going to work" was when this guy only owned 20 books and they were all Oprah-type self-help books. Unsurprisingly he had issues (and also had issues with the size of my book collection - ladies weren't supposed to be that into books).
posted by kariebookish at 12:51 AM on June 21, 2012


The book I would absolutely walk out of a womans house over if I saw it is The Rules. Here's my rule, if I saw that book -- buzz off. I'm outta there.

Hard to believe that women still want to play those games, but that book sold and it sold well.

Rush Limbaugh et all, pretty much the same; jesus-jumper books pretty much the same; though with Rush and/or Jesus I wouldn't just walk, I'd finish the date or whatever. Though the fact is that the date was finished when I saw those books.

Horoscope books? Horoscope books? Holy dogshit !! Um, I think my moon is in cornicopia or something, I gotta go now -- see ya!


I worked as a maintenance carpenter for an apt complex for a couple of years, I often went into peoples apts during the day to fix leaks or whatever else, a door that'd broken; I always made a beeline for the bookshelf -- if there was a bookshelf -- to see what they are thinking, if they are thinking.

Most people who lived in that apt complex in NW Houston in 1985-1987 were not thinking.

Or they were damn sure not reading like they were thinking.

If there were books, so many of them with heaving bodices on the cover. Comical. And some novels of the time, probably Stephen King books or what-have-you. Time magazine. TV guide. Sports Illustrated.

Though I have to say that if an apt is interesting I'd still want to meet the person. By interesting I don't mean a collection of rubber ducks on the window sills -- though it'd be amusing to meet that person of course -- but interesting art on the walls, sweet furniture arranged nicely, etc and etc.


Not everyone reads, including some super-cool people. And not everyone who does read keeps books. I admire people who do that; at one time I had books across an entire wall of my place but I've cut it sharply, culled it again and again, mostly the books I have on my shelf anymore are either irreplaceable (less and less of those because everything is available used online nowadays at Amazon or most anywhere else) or if I'm highly emotionally attached to the physical object that the book is, or both.

The only way I was able to pull that rabbit out of the hat was by cutting to a smaller and smaller book shelf, and not having any more books that what will fit on that shelf; if something comes in, something must go out.

I can almost feel the emotional pain some of you are experiencing at the thought of this.


So. The Rules, most any political books (esp from right-wing but really anyone shrill and I'm bored), most any jesus books, any horoscope books -- those will get me out the door, those will get me to wave you goodbye.
posted by dancestoblue at 12:52 AM on June 21, 2012 [2 favorites]


03) in any way representative of what young love with vampires and werewolves should be.

That made me laugh for a good while.

So, they recommend American Psycho but nix Crime and Punishment? Ellis over Dostoevsky?

I'd say it's a hatchet job.
posted by ersatz at 3:27 AM on June 21, 2012 [2 favorites]


I own quite a books that have at one time or another been banned by school districts or governments, including Mein Kampf, Lolita, the Satanic Verses, Diary of Anne Frank, Kerouac and others.

That sort of stunt bookshelving is a dealbreaker: pretentious and fake courage is not a winning combination.

In general, having books on your shelves to send a message about how you'd like to be seen, rather than because you want to read them. Too insecure for a mature relationship.

Stunt reading thrash like Dan Brown or Sarah Palin books just because "you want to see how bad they are for yourself". Either not gutsy enoguh they just like these books, or they're bad at making priorities.

Too much young adult fiction: immature, easily satisfied.
Too much genre fiction, especially media tie-ins: neckbeards
Flavour of the month literature: slave to trends
No books, say they read from library: lying, or incapable of forming emotional ties with what they're reading or happy to let others control their reading
Reads classic literature, nothing else: bores
Too much red and black books with swastikas, claim they're genuinely fascinated by WWII and the evil that man do, but no Raoul Hillenberg: wannabe nazis
Too much war books in general: potential serial killers
To many books, judgemental in what you read, links incessantly to his librarything account in online book discussions: vainglorious braggart, silly ass.
posted by MartinWisse at 3:27 AM on June 21, 2012 [2 favorites]


Welded is acceptable if they are constructed of 440 stainless but they must also be fully annealed. If they are made from aluminum they should be milled from a 6061-T6 billet.
posted by Ad hominem


I find 7075 aluminum to be a discreet way to display taste and wealth.
posted by Comrade_robot at 3:50 AM on June 21, 2012


One dealbreaker to me would be anyone who reads Danielle Steele, but of course this would be for female friends, not dates. Are there men who read Danielle Steele? I always look for books at garage sales, and if any of her books are there I know the rest will be trash too. Not that I don't read trash, murder mysteries are my favorite but Steele makes me gag.

Nothing wrong with Crime and Punishment. Don't get why that is included, but would agree with many of the others.
posted by mermayd at 3:53 AM on June 21, 2012


“Anything — I don’t care if it’s Infinite Jest or Lolita or Moby-Dick — if it’s on an e-reader. Sorry.”

I read five books on my last nine-day holiday, and I can easily read two a week on public transport. I envy my friend's new flat because they now have an actual library, but until I get a place of my own that allows me to put down roots and put up shelves, the ereader wins for me. I was very sceptical at first but it is so liberating not to have to carry two or three books with me if I'm away somewhere. There are books I'll never get rid of, like Gordon Legge's The Shoe, and books where I need to look at the pictures like craft/instructional books, but for thick novels and heavy hardbacks it's astonishingly better.

Plus sometimes I want to read a bit of literary tat - a lot of genre fiction is awful, but blanket condemnation? That would put me off someone. Just like those guys who say 'I like all music except country and rap' - no you don't. Marian Keyes, for example, was mentioned int he article but her novels are quite witty and although the stories are fluffy she's a good writer - I'd far rather take Keyes over Dave Eggers or William T.Vollmann or, Jesus wept, Martin Amis.

I had an absolute nobber of a landlord once, and when he left his room unlocked (it was the only room in the house that had a lock) the only book I saw through the open door was The Game.
posted by mippy at 3:55 AM on June 21, 2012


Oh - one rule that's served me in my dating life is: never date a man who doesn't read fiction.
posted by mippy at 3:56 AM on June 21, 2012 [2 favorites]


The most undateable literature: a shelf-full of nothing but manga
posted by ymgve at 4:03 AM on June 21, 2012


Since I judge people solely on the quality of the printing and binding they own, my dealbreaker would be this book. I'm not sure this actually qualifies as a book.

Due to the exceptional circumstances of this pile of paper, I would extend the dealbreaker status to any work by this author, and all other Actualist Poets.
posted by charlie don't surf at 4:09 AM on June 21, 2012


It's not "stunt bookshelving" Martin. It's owning books that I've bought, read, intend to read or have been given. I have a personal library. It's not there to be some sort of shallow advertisement for the things I care about. It's there because it contains ideas and stories that at one point or another I wanted to expose myself to and learn about. And may very well want to reference again someday. Or lend to someone else.

The books I own get read. They're there to be read. Not to be an ego display.

The books I mentioned above are a tiny portion of the ones I own. My point is simply that it's stupid as hell to assume a shelf or library that includes one book from an author is the most important representation of someone's character.
posted by zarq at 4:30 AM on June 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


Given that the last thing Martin linked was his own library thing page I'm thinking his tongue was firmly in his cheek during that diatribe?

I worked as a maintenance carpenter for an apt complex for a couple of years, I often went into peoples apts during the day to fix leaks or whatever else, a door that'd broken; I always made a beeline for the bookshelf -- if there was a bookshelf -- to see what they are thinking, if they are thinking.

I knew the apartment people did this! Ha! And everyone said I was paranoid!
posted by winna at 4:41 AM on June 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


I contend that this wasn't linkbait, so much as commentbait. On that front it has delivered in an earnest and pleasing fashion.
posted by Arquimedez Pozo at 5:56 AM on June 21, 2012


If someone would cross OKCupid with Goodreads/LibraryThing, I might actually give internet dating another try.

In the meantime, I will be hiding in the corner reading my avalanche of both print and e-books. With my seven cats. Screaming at people to get off my lawn.
posted by waxlight at 6:17 AM on June 21, 2012


It's vital to be sure whether or not the person actually likes the book. I have some dreadful books on my shelves, and I only bought or otherwise acquired them out of curiosity, or on a recommendation, or as a random gamble, or - worst of all - because I felt I ought to read them. They're still there mainly because something in my soul rebels at the idea of throwing away books I own. Notable exceptions have been The Fountainhead (which made me feel like adjacent books were being soiled by it) and Infinite Jest, which enraged me so much and on so many levels that I actually felt violent towards it and compelled to physically destroy it, which I did, and with no little pleasure.

Assuming that a prospective partner actually liked the books in question, deal breakers would be:

Rand.
Foster Wallace.
Any religious text.
Any vampire-related garbage except Stoker.
Any Marvel-style superhero comics.
Shit like "The Rules"
Any woo-based "You Can Heal Your Life" type drivel.

"Problematic but possibly negotiable" would be:

Chucks Klosterman and Palaniuk.
Andrea Dworkin.
Dave Eggers.
Bridget Jones style fluff.
Cormac McCarthy.

"Distinctly encouraging" would be:

Iain Banks (non-SF)
Jane Gardam
Alasdair Gray
Rupert Thomson
Richard Dawkins
John Fowles


I love futile speculation about fantasy scenarios.
posted by Decani at 6:18 AM on June 21, 2012 [2 favorites]


He is also MeFi's own in a sort of perverted way.

But aren't we all?
posted by aught at 6:28 AM on June 21, 2012


Part of me expected the collected works of Jacqueline Suzanne or the novels of Harold Robbins. You know, the Giants!
posted by SentientAI at 6:33 AM on June 21, 2012 [2 favorites]


I'm always jealous by threads like this. Read books? Oh, so 20th century. I read slow. I used to be addicted to fiction. Now I'm addicted to the internet, and don't read many books, and usually those are non-fiction now.

And then I throw myself a curve, and fell completely in love with the Hunger Games trilogy (Thanks, Metafilter!). I liked the movie, the books satisfied very nicely. And a first time in decades I've read a book after seeing the movie. Yea, I may like it too much. LOL! Fun!

Of course, this sort of thing is mostly irrelevant to middle aged married folks. Betcha never thought there were advantages to that status, eh? :-P
posted by Goofyy at 6:34 AM on June 21, 2012


Okay, I know that the linked lists are basically an amusing conceit for talking about books and people and the books + people connection or whatever, and meant to be a fun thing rather than an actual endorsement of "I repudiate you because [ISBN-SOMETHING]" (right?), but I have to bloviate nevertheless on this subject, and say that when I met I my husband... or rather when I got to the point of hanging out at his place, he may not have had any books at all. Or maybe he had a few, I don't remember. And I don't remember the titles of the few if he had a few. And I've always been the head-in-a-book girl, bookshops-better-than-candystore girl, just-give-me-my-book-give-it-to-me, bookbookbookybook girl. Like, seriously, books. Since I was six.

But his bookshelf or lack of one made zero impression on me. And not just because he was so hot the scenery melted into puddles wherever he wandered, but because I had talked to him, and knew this was a person I wanted to talk with a whole lot more. Like ALOT. He had read tons of books, and they sometimes came up in our conversations. He had read a lot of books but didn't have a lot of books (or maybe any; I still don't remember). But aside from books (all sorts!), and a canny appreciation of certain discriminating nooks and crannies of popular culture, he was knowledgeable and passionate about a wide variety of cultural subjects... opera, classical music, ballet, jazz, art – and a very wide range of scientific fields. But none of it was on display at all, and only came up casually in discussions or hands-on situations over the years. He can play several instruments, and was invited onstage as a teen to play with various popular bands in his country. He built his own pirate radio station from scratch (and no money) when he was 14 and broadcast for several years. He could (and still can) fix any broken thing, which he does all the time, for anyone who asks, as well as creating his own electronic devices for his own work. And in addition to being one of the smartest people I've ever met, he's also the kindest, most relaxed, most tolerant, most fun, and least narcissistic/self-involved.

And more than 20 years later, he keeps surprising me with new tidbits of gorgeous information about all sorts of things that I never knew he had pursued or was familiar with. This guy should have so totally rejected me... maybe on the basis of my many, many overstuffed bookshelves and what they failed to contain, or because of my vast ignorance about so many other things.

But thank goodness he didn't! And thank goodness I didn't do anything so utterly dumb as trying to assess his worthiness (hah!) on how many or what kind of books his (inexpensive, one-room, and so, so wonderful) apartment contained. And thus I wholeheartedly recommend the totally uncool, low-tech, oldschool method: many shared bottles of wine and conversations, with possibly, at some point, even some hot sexysex before raiding the bookshelves in pursuit of affirmation that this person has the proper intellectual badges – because that's so CliffsNotes.

/owns a Kindle, and has read half of the dealbreaker books (and all of the classics), so salt and grains, etc.
posted by taz at 6:38 AM on June 21, 2012 [9 favorites]


Tao Lin's Richard Yates is strange and worth the read. Many people who read it are guaranteed to viscerally HATE HATE HATE it, but they tend to have trouble articulating why in my opinion.

I viscerally hate it! I also find it incredibly compelling! Both are for more or less the same reason -- it's a book that very carefully lays out the way that Tao Lin interacts with the world. I find that interaction to be utterly repellent, but I find his description of that interaction to be incredibly well-crafted.

I borrowed it from a pretty cool dude

Was that me? I've already forgotten what I lent you, just that I was excited to be able to momentarily justify owning physical media for the pleasure of sharing it.
posted by Greg Nog at 6:45 AM on June 21, 2012


Twilight and Fifty Shades of Grey.

Not a bandwagon fan.
posted by stormpooper at 6:47 AM on June 21, 2012


You know, I found this whole thing so shallow and couldn't pinpoint why; but I think it's that I believe that intelligent people can read just about anything that strikes their fancy - Mein Kampf, The Da Vinci Code, Danielle Steele, whatever - and still maintain a reasonable outlook on the world, and be wiser for the variety of their reading. Maybe it's because I grew up in a family of eclectic, catholic (small-c), voracious readers, who would pick up anything and check it out, read stuff to understand what others were seeing it, read stuff just because they were curious, read the "classics" and contemporary fiction and nonfiction and crap fiction and self-help and science and cereal boxes. Because of this I can't really square with judging people, at dealbreaker level, only on what they may have read. I expect people to have read a lot of things, and I can't say I particularly respect people who are willing to totally pan Ayn Rand or Hemingway without having read them at all.

People should read. They should read whatever they enjoy and whatever they can get their hands on. It's not the books themselves, it's what you do with them in your mind that matters. If someone's got a shelf full of what I'd call garbage and nothing else, chances are we don't have a lot in common; an uncritical devotion to certain titles or genres at the exclusion of other styles and ideas is indeed a cautionary flag. But in the context of an otherwise full reading life and an active, critical, thoughtful mind, one or two books or genres that I'm not a fan of are not ever going to cause me to walk away.
posted by Miko at 6:52 AM on June 21, 2012 [5 favorites]



"Hey, someone who reads ANYTHING is a better option than someone who doesn't."

I'd have to disagree here. Literature is not the perfect form of art. If I went to your house and I saw shitty 80's pop on your MP3 but you had Crime and Punishment, I'd respect you just as much as someone who had 50 Shades of Gray on their shelf but listened to Merzbow. And I'd respect someone who listened to shitty 80's pop and read 50 Shades of Gray just as much as someone who listened to Merzbow and read Crime and Punishment.
posted by pcrsweetness at 7:13 AM on June 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


If someone would cross OKCupid with Goodreads/LibraryThing, I might actually give internet dating another try.

"Welcome to Alikewise ~ Dating based on book tastes"
posted by jessamyn at 7:28 AM on June 21, 2012 [3 favorites]


Literature is not the perfect form of art. If I went to your house and I saw shitty 80's pop on your MP3 but you had Crime and Punishment, I'd respect you just as much as someone who had 50 Shades of Gray on their shelf but listened to Merzbow.

Yeah, but by that logic, you'd also have to respect someone who gave a lot of really interesting thought to painting. Or, like, you'd also have to respect someone who was really into fashion because they gave a lot of complex thought to the artistry of clothing. By your rationale, you'd have to respect someone who gave that much thought to cooking.

And so on and so on, until you have admit that there are various ways human intelligence can manifest in art, and then you actually have to spend time talking to someone rather than dismissing them with rule-of-thumb tribal-signification dealbreakers. I mean, does that really sound like the kind of hellish world any of us would want to live in?
posted by Greg Nog at 7:36 AM on June 21, 2012 [11 favorites]


The problem with Hunter S Thompson is the same as the problem with Ad Reinhardt or Pablo Picasso. All these assholes read Thompson and think they can skip over the learning the craft part of the process; they figure they, too, can just dump the rules, and they will also be brilliant in their writing. But they're not. Because they have no idea how to get to the right end with the rules, they have no hope of getting to the right end without the rules. They have no fucking clue how to what is supposed to be there, what writing is supposed to accomplish.

Could not agree more! I've been watching some of those long-form podcasts of actors, and they seem split into three camps:

1- I went to [acting school] and it was the best thing ever.

2- I went to [acting school(s)] and they were fine, I guess, but graduating from them was the *starting point* of me learning my craft, not the end point.

3- I started in stand-up.

Cohort 1 seems to be people who enjoy acting; telling a story for the enjoyment of the audience.

Cohort 2 was people who were more Actors! [flourish!]. They don't care so much about the entertainment aspect, but about the performance aspect.

Cohort 3 seemed to be naturally talented people, but who also lack the ability to edit themselves. They follow the "I have successfully made people laugh, therefore anything I do must be good" way of thinking.

And there are different kinds of people who enjoy the works of each, as far as I have noticed.

In other words, WHY you like something is more important (to compatibility) than what it is.
posted by gjc at 7:37 AM on June 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


Wait, what if I had an OMD remix album by Merzbow and a copy of Crime and Punishment and Skinemax-Grade BDSM?
posted by griphus at 7:37 AM on June 21, 2012


I was going to say that Imzadi and Sarek are totes appropriate books to corner people at bars about. They're love stories for chrissake!

There's a difference between discussing the books and telling you the plot. I read Star Trek novels occasionally on my own. If I want to know the plot, I'll read it my own self!
posted by immlass at 7:53 AM on June 21, 2012


I own a book called "Slapping Techniques", by Chuck Rainey. Maybe I should join Alikewise and see what happens....
posted by thelonius at 7:57 AM on June 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


Nestled amongst the Jean Genet & Will Durant, if a putative suitor were to espy my collection, their eyes might fall at length upon a wetherwornworn and hidebound copy of The Day the Earth Froze, truly the most horrid collection of scrawlings-upon-paper I have yet had the misfortune to endure. I leave it entirely to them to determine what this says about me, the reader.
posted by Devils Rancher at 8:15 AM on June 21, 2012


*weatherworn* with an a and only one worn.
posted by Devils Rancher at 8:18 AM on June 21, 2012


But what if X is:
- a severed head


What if it's several books *about* severed heads (and various other forensic anthropology textbooks, and a fully articulated model human skeleton? You know what? I think I just answered my own question.)
posted by Panjandrum at 8:18 AM on June 21, 2012


An ex bought me a Lester Bangs anthology once. There's a guy who those who emulate Thompson love.
posted by mippy at 8:19 AM on June 21, 2012


truly the most horrid collection of scrawlings-upon-paper I have yet had the misfortune to endure

I have both City of Heroes licensed novelizations, which I got at work because they were free (I worked for the game publisher) and kept because the first one was the single worst piece of professionally-bound writing I had ever encountered.
posted by restless_nomad at 8:20 AM on June 21, 2012


Bad books- they're artifacts of a kind, and I marvel at them.
posted by Devils Rancher at 8:23 AM on June 21, 2012


Greg Nog: Yeah, but by that logic, you'd also have to respect someone who gave a lot of really interesting thought to painting. Or, like, you'd also have to respect someone who was really into fashion because they gave a lot of complex thought to the artistry of clothing. By your rationale, you'd have to respect someone who gave that much thought to cooking.

Certainly, and I'd find people who were really into a certain art or craft to be really groovy and interesting people to talk to, especially if I didn't fully understand the art in question.

And so on and so on, until you have admit that there are various ways human intelligence can manifest in art, and then you actually have to spend time talking to someone rather than dismissing them with rule-of-thumb tribal-signification dealbreakers.

Well, as an old fart, I don't find the idea of tribal-signification dealbreakers to be that much of a problem anymore. Relationships are already complicated even when you have points of similarity, so I can fully understand the desire to only date within a particular religion/ethos/political view. More power to the people who go into mixed political/religion/diet relationships, but it should be a choice.

In addition, there's a fair bit of popular nonfiction out there that's polemic in nature, and written to cultivate contempt for other perspectives. The adoption of large volumes of literature that exists primarily to encourage readers to pick the kinds of fights I find distasteful would certainly be a red flag for a long-term relationship.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 8:23 AM on June 21, 2012


what if I had an OMD remix album by Merzbow

The Merzbox's "Stacy Q, Hi-Fi Sweet Leaf" is a Stacey Q remix. Will that do?
posted by octobersurprise at 8:24 AM on June 21, 2012


Half of a handjob with an almost virtuosic lack of enthusiasm.
posted by griphus at 8:27 AM on June 21, 2012


Kind of depressing to realize that I probably wouldn't date myself based on my own criteria.
posted by El Sabor Asiatico at 8:27 AM on June 21, 2012


do you seriously have 100,000 ebooks? Because you're going to die before you read all those, man.

On my (password-protected) web server; this is a very rough count.
I've got stuff in file formats other than epub and mobi, but here's an idea:
mrbill@ohno:/disk/unsorted-books> du -sh .
120G	.
mrbill@ohno:/disk/unsorted-books> grep .epub *.txt |wc -l
27012
mrbill@ohno:/disk/unsorted-books> grep .mobi *.txt |wc -l
25412
I know I'll never be able to read all of them, but it's useful for when a friend is looking for something ...
Even with all of these online, I *still* spend $20-50/payday on Kindle stuff from Amazon.
posted by mrbill at 8:29 AM on June 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


I lost all respect for an acquaintance once based on his judgement of a girl he'd seen reading Atlas Shrugged on a bus. He absolutely insisted that she was reading it in public in order to be seen reading it in public, to be seen as cool; he rejected out of hand any idea that she was reading it in public because she had to take the bus to get from point A to point B, and that happened to be the book she was reading at the time. He also rejected any possibility that the fact that she was reading the book did not mean that she was any kind of Objectivist.

As a woman who occasionally exists in public, the whole "a female existing in public is a performance for the male gaze" part of all that made me batshit, and as a person who has read Atlas Shrugged, it made me nuts on the "you actually have to read the book before you can critique the book" level -- this guy had read the book, but when he read it, it was for sociopolitical analysis reasons. Because he was a smart guy* with a degree in sociology, not some girl on the bus.

who claimed to be a Marxist feminist.
posted by endless_forms at 8:32 AM on June 21, 2012 [2 favorites]


Was that me? I've already forgotten what I lent you, just that I was excited to be able to momentarily justify owning physical media for the pleasure of sharing it.

Yup! I showed it to my coworkers and they thought it was pretty amazing, cover, title, random page and all (they are not the types who know who Tao Lin is and we were in a van) so there's another reason to justify owning physical media!
posted by the young rope-rider at 8:45 AM on June 21, 2012


My younger brother maintains a large selection of Mills and Boon novels. Is this the opposite of being a poseur?
posted by fearnothing at 8:50 AM on June 21, 2012


I've been running spreadsheets on this since the mid-90s and the only thing that prevents an individual from being a poseur is standing perfectly still somewhere in the uninhabited Mongolian steppes.
posted by griphus at 8:52 AM on June 21, 2012 [6 favorites]


There's such a nasty classism behind this kind of intellectual snobbery, too - surprised anyone here would seriously reject anyone based on their taste in books.

My other grandmother - not the one whose illness and surgery prompted me to buy the DaVinci Code - exclusively reads pop mysteries, thrillers, and other bodice-ripper type books. But here's the thing: she's always reading one. Always. Her friends call her "smarty-pants" because a house full of books - even if they're shit - is seen as a marker of sophistication in her group.

She's undeniably a very smart woman and I'm sure she'd have much better taste in books if she hadn't dropped out of high school to help take care of her family after her father died. People who'd turn tail at the sight of her Danielle Steele and Judith Deveraux novels would be missing out on the chance to get to know a seriously cool lady, and only because she doesn't have the "sophistication" to know that snobs would look down on what she read.
posted by downing street memo at 8:57 AM on June 21, 2012 [5 favorites]


I'd cannot condemn anyone for merely reading Harry Potter, otherwise I'd include myself as well, PhoBWanKenobi, ditto D&D manuals. I'll happily crack jokes about either D&D players being anti-social or Harry Potter taking all it's monsters form D&D though. It follows these both offer up exactly the simplistic stereotypes that she's targeting, hence my noting their omission.
posted by jeffburdges at 9:31 AM on June 21, 2012


the only thing that prevents an individual from being a poseur is standing perfectly still somewhere in the uninhabited Mongolian steppes

Anyone standing still is just trying to look cool.
posted by Zed at 9:37 AM on June 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


MY RESEARCH
posted by griphus at 9:38 AM on June 21, 2012 [3 favorites]


There's such a nasty classism behind this kind of intellectual snobbery, too...She's undeniably a very smart woman and I'm sure she'd have much better taste in books if she hadn't dropped out of high school...

True-ish. But I have old classmates from private school who list DaVinci Code and such as their favorite books - I can judge them, right?
posted by naoko at 9:38 AM on June 21, 2012


surprised anyone here would seriously reject anyone based on their taste in books.

People decline to date other people for all sorts of reasons—money, looks, religion, education, sense of humor or lack of such, etc. Tell me you've never declined to date someone on one of those grounds. Why should a taste in reading material be exempt? And why should "here" be any different than the rest of the world?

My other grandmother - not the one whose illness and surgery prompted me to buy the DaVinci Code - exclusively reads pop mysteries, thrillers, and other bodice-ripper type books.

Well, she sounds wonderful. If it matters, I don't think your grandmother is undateable at all.
posted by octobersurprise at 9:42 AM on June 21, 2012 [2 favorites]


"But I have old classmates from private school who list DaVinci Code and such as their favorite books - I can judge them, right?"

Well, that depends if you think a private education obliges one to be literary. And with that, the assumption that it's well and good for the great unwashed to read The DaVinci Code but for the privately educated? I'm kidding, but not much.
posted by mippy at 9:55 AM on June 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


255 comments and no one's mentioned The Holy Bible.
posted by xmutex at 9:58 AM on June 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


An L. Ron Hubbard novel or two? A couple of cheap worn paperbacks tucked on a shelf alongside Bradbury and Vonnegut? Not a problem.

But a signed L. Ron Hubbard novel? That is a dealbreaker.
posted by gompa at 10:00 AM on June 21, 2012 [2 favorites]


Well, that depends if you think a private education obliges one to be literary. And with that, the assumption that it's well and good for the great unwashed to read The DaVinci Code but for the privately educated? I'm kidding, but not much.

Well, I don't know. Downing street memo says his or her grandma would have read better books if she hadn't dropped out of school, and therefore it's snobby to judge people based on reading bad books, because if they had more opportunities in life they'd read better books, and so what you're judging is their lack of such opportunities, and that's classist. Ok, kind of makes sense. But in my experience, there are some extremely privileged people out there who still have atrocious taste in books. So when I'm judging those people for having shit taste in books, it can't be classism, can it? But then, like you say, if one judges only highly educated crappy-book-readers, but not dsm's grandma, because high school dropouts can't be expected to read GRAET LITTERCHOOR, that does seem kind of classist too. So...I dunno.
posted by naoko at 10:04 AM on June 21, 2012


I could date people who like to read whatever because reading is such a solitary pursuit. Taste in TV shows and movies, that is extremely important. Someone in my apartment (not saying who) loves the X-Files and has to watch it on their phone unless they want someone else to make fun of Mulder's dopey know-it-all-ness and 90s hair relentlessly. It's no way to live.
posted by the young rope-rider at 10:45 AM on June 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm probably imagining this but my perception is that most people who loudly hate Tao Lin have never read anything of his.
posted by shakespeherian at 11:00 AM on June 21, 2012


If I went to your house and I saw shitty 80's pop on your MP3 but you had Crime and Punishment, I'd respect you just as much as someone who had 50 Shades of Gray on their shelf but listened to Merzbow. And I'd respect someone who listened to shitty 80's pop and read 50 Shades of Gray just as much as someone who listened to Merzbow and read Crime and Punishment.
posted by pcrsweetness at 3:13 PM on June 21


Confused.
posted by Decani at 12:34 PM on June 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


Like ALOT.
posted by taz at 2:38 PM on June 21 [5 favorites +]


I'm going to cut you a break here and assume your space bar is sticky. Because if not, man, that would be sad.
posted by Decani at 12:38 PM on June 21, 2012


But a signed L. Ron Hubbard novel? That is a dealbreaker.

I think you mean ARC breaker.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 1:08 PM on June 21, 2012


Sweet, my Mario Kart 64 Strategy Guide is safe.
posted by zephyr_words at 2:04 PM on June 21, 2012


a signed L. Ron Hubbard novel? That is a dealbreaker.

Dealbreaker factor entirely depends on the method of acquisition of said signed novel.

If someone offered me a full printed set of Scientology texts for free, I'd take them in a heartbeat and put them on the bookshelves in my living room next to my 1950s Popular Mechanics Home Handyman Encyclopedias and "IBM's 360 and Early 370 Systems", although I might make a little note with a Post-It that said "NOT A SCIENTOLOGIST".

The shelves look more like this now, and a lot of the titles shown are up for grabs if anybody's in Houston.
posted by mrbill at 2:29 PM on June 21, 2012


I'm tired of hipsters that talk crap about e-readers because they like "having a book in their hand". Well good for you. Its all about personal preference so get over it. But I'm just saying... not having to hold a book open, or worry about a book mark, being able to share books while you are still reading them, being able to immediately purchase another book etc, has been priceless for me. And because of my Kindle I have read triple the amount of books I otherwise would have. I would think that should be a positive thing no matter what.

I also came to the decision a long time ago that I was going to read books that I enjoy reading, even if my inner hipster is screaming at me for reading something so commercial or predictable. So once I had read all the Ray Bradbury and Kurt Vonnegut I could, I was led down a path of reading tons of fantasy novels that I would have sworn was "something I wasn't into" before I made this life choice. I am now a proud reader of shit novels. That doesn't mean I love them all, by any means. But it is something I have come to accept, and I would hope that reading things that are entertaining, if shallow, wouldn't make someone undateable, unless they are taking them too seriously.

Also, what is left out in this article is that the real problem isn't liking these books, it is why people like them. I mean, I love The Catcher in the Rye and I can't imagine thinking anyone loving that book to be a bad thing, but if a dude said "Yeah The Catcher in the Rye is my favorite book because I love hookers and drinking" then I may give pause. Or, "I love Fight Club because I love punching people in the face." Or "Fear and Loathing is one of my favorites because I take a lot of mescaline and hit up the casinos all the time, so I know what its like."
posted by Quincy at 2:38 PM on June 21, 2012 [2 favorites]




... I love Fight Club because I love punching people in the face.

(And also because I was 18 when I saw it and anti-commercialism was the coolest thing ever. But mostly the punching.)
posted by restless_nomad at 2:46 PM on June 21, 2012


I like Chuck Palanuick's book, but TBH the versions of it after Fight Club and Invisible Monsters really aren't as good.
posted by Artw at 2:57 PM on June 21, 2012 [5 favorites]


Admittedly... I have never punched anyone in the face. It is entirely possible that I would love it.
posted by Quincy at 2:57 PM on June 21, 2012


I like Chuck Palanuick's book

Omigod this is the same joke I make.
posted by shakespeherian at 2:57 PM on June 21, 2012 [2 favorites]


It's a tiny bit unfair - he deviates a little sometimes, like that book of non-fic (which I liked very much) and his more overtly SF/Horror efforts (less so) but the stuff he made his name with is pretty samey.
posted by Artw at 3:03 PM on June 21, 2012


I have books with large scary pictures of China Mieville and Shel Silverstein on the back... I should totally leave those out face down when guests visit.
posted by Artw at 3:04 PM on June 21, 2012


I think I've only read Fight Club, Choke, and Lullaby but the first two, at least, were so indistinguishable as to make me actually unhappy.
posted by shakespeherian at 3:04 PM on June 21, 2012


I like Invisible Monsters the best, but yes. Also throw in Survivor.
posted by Artw at 3:05 PM on June 21, 2012


But! Because like things is more interesting that disliking things, I'd like to recommend Gilbert Sorrentino to everyone.
posted by shakespeherian at 3:11 PM on June 21, 2012


To be clear, I like the movie version a lot better - I think it's really the better medium for the story. The book was rather a disappointment afterwards.
posted by restless_nomad at 3:11 PM on June 21, 2012


It's as direct an adaptation as you could possibly hope for - there isn't much left to the book after that.
posted by Artw at 3:13 PM on June 21, 2012


Also the book does not have Meatloaf.
posted by Artw at 3:13 PM on June 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


Or Helena Bonham Carter, for that matter.
posted by restless_nomad at 3:28 PM on June 21, 2012


One time when I lived in Belsize Park I happened to pass some idiots dressed just like Tim Burton and Helena Bonham Carter. "Ha!" I said to my not-yet-Wife "Look at THOSE IDIOTS, dressed just like Tim Burton and Helena Bonham Carter. Fools!"

They of course were Tim Burton and Helena Bonham Carter.
posted by Artw at 3:32 PM on June 21, 2012


Omigod this is the same joke I make.

This is the Chuck Palahniuk joke. The books are all the same. The first one you read you're like -- wow! -- and this usually happens to be Fight Club. Then the second one, it's pretty good. Then you read a third, and you're like, what the fuck, I see what you're doing here.

For me, the second was Survivor, and I really liked it. But that was the end.

Chuck, though, it needs to be said, is one of the nicest people on the planet, so I feel kind of bad saying this here.
posted by xmutex at 3:37 PM on June 21, 2012 [2 favorites]


I have books with large scary pictures of China Mieville and Shel Silverstein on the back...

Excuse me, I think you mean large HOT picture of China Mieville (and Silverstein isn't bad if you like beard)
posted by nicebookrack at 4:51 PM on June 21, 2012 [1 favorite]




Sometimes for fun I look at my bookshelves and let my eyes sort of glaze over in an attempt to see what they look like to someone who doesn't live here-- which titles stick out, for whatever reason (spine width, typesetting, color, etc.) and inevitably it seems to be the most embarrassing titles.
posted by shakespeherian at 5:01 PM on June 21, 2012


Man you ain't kidding with the Shel Silverstein eating one's soul dealie.

I would not want to meet that man in a children's poetry reading.

Everyone should read Murray Leinster, who is the best truly wretched science fiction author ever. His books are so bad they're wonderful. I highly recommend the MedShip books, which are so hilariously terrible I have read my original copy to shreds, giggling the while.
posted by winna at 5:05 PM on June 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


Excuse me, I think you mean large HOT picture of China Mieville

Man, I only hope I look half as good as China when I end up going bald.
posted by adamdschneider at 5:07 PM on June 21, 2012


zarq: "No love for Peter David? :D"

Never read any of his Trek books but I do have his first novel, Howling Mad, about a wolf that gets bitten by a werewolf and turns into a man.
posted by the_artificer at 5:56 PM on June 21, 2012


I would not want to meet that man in a children's poetry reading.

Especially because he would be chasing all of you for your brains.
posted by gingerest at 5:58 PM on June 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


Also, my biggest guilty pleasure/shelf of shame that I should probably hide when dates come over is my unusually large collection of Warhammer 40k fiction.
posted by the_artificer at 6:05 PM on June 21, 2012


One Of the great things about being married - from that pout on you can buy infinity WH40k books and no-one gives a shit.
posted by Artw at 6:07 PM on June 21, 2012


Can someone explain why TC Boyle was thrown in there?

TC Boyle is a talented writer. His stories are often told from the point of view of an unreliable narrator. If you want to date an unreliable narrator, well...
posted by ovvl at 6:15 PM on June 21, 2012


Unreliable narrators are Se veri sexy an make me howl.
posted by adamdschneider at 7:12 PM on June 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


Heh, I own:
5 physical books (makeup guide, cookbook, 2 bootcamp issued military books, and a bird guide),
4 comic books (my Locke & Key hardcovers are pretty much the shit),
and about 300 books on my Kindle.

The military is sort of an....unfriendly place to those with multiple interests and/or weird hobbies.

"Why would you watch birds? Weird."
"Why would you take pictures of moths? Weird."
"You still read some kid's books (in ref. to A Wrinkle In Time)? Weird."

and what got asked of someone I was on watch with, who liked reading history books of all kinds, "Why would you read Mein Kampf? Do you sympathize with Hitler? I think that book is really offensive and you shouldn't read it if you call yourself an American."

So....I gotta say, my Kindle is for convenience AND to avoid stupid, nosy questions from small-minded people.
posted by DisreputableDog at 8:06 PM on June 21, 2012 [4 favorites]


I'm tired of hipsters that talk crap about e-readers because they like "having a book in their hand."

LOLing at the notion that the printed book—only 500 years old or so—has now somehow become a thing of "hipsters."
posted by octobersurprise at 8:33 PM on June 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


Everyone should read Murray Leinster, who is the best truly wretched science fiction author ever. His books are so bad they're wonderful. I highly recommend the MedShip books, which are so hilariously terrible I have read my original copy to shreds, giggling the while.

Yes, yes, yes! That's one of my favorite outdated series ever. I especially love that he has to rely on a pencil and paper to do all his navigation calculations. :D

Never read any of his Trek books but I do have his first novel, Howling Mad, about a wolf that gets bitten by a werewolf and turns into a man.

His Trek books were... interesting. He wrote Worf exceptionally well. Gave him a wicked sense of humor.
posted by zarq at 9:23 PM on June 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


There's such a nasty classism behind this kind of intellectual snobbery, too - surprised anyone here would seriously reject anyone based on their taste in books.

While I have had to reluctantly had to come to the conclusion non-readers are human too, that doesn't mean I would want to spend my life with somebody who either doesn't read, or whose reading tastes would drive me up the wall. Luckily my wife and I met on irc.lspace.org so it was clear she and I were largely compatible even if her fiction reading tended more to mysteries and interbellum fiction whereas mine was sf&f (Pratchett being the halfway point) and our non-fiction tastes didn't overlap that much either (social history, England between the wars, a bit of cooking and gardening books for her, military history, Late Antiquity and medieval history for me and we both read (pop) science). The important thing was that we were both reasonably broad and openminded readers and we both liked to occasionally challenge ourselves in our reading.

I do have some prejudices about books and what would drive me up the wall are people who only read fluff and nothing else, or who only read in the same genre, or all the way on the other side of the spectrum, those who only do real literature and nothing else. I do think you should read both fiction and non-fiction but can understand if you get burned out on either, as I've had that as well. What I don't understand are people who read bad but popular books just because they're popular and have to see for themselves how bad they are or who do that in a MST3000 kind of way -- I read some bad, bad writers (David Weber) but I still get some inherent pleasure out of it.

What everybody should distrust are those who have one favourite book, especially if that is something like Catcher in the Rye and that's really what the original post is about. It is often a sign of poseurdom or of being unduly influenced by it. Not always, but often.

I'm probably imagining this but my perception is that most people who loudly hate Tao Lin have never read anything of his.

Don't even know the dude.
posted by MartinWisse at 12:00 AM on June 22, 2012


my biggest guilty pleasure/shelf of shame that I should probably hide when dates come over is my unusually large collection of Warhammer 40k fiction.

"My, sir, that is an unusally large collection of Warhammer 40k fiction." *fans self*
posted by Zed at 7:35 AM on June 22, 2012 [3 favorites]


What everybody should distrust are those who have one favourite book, especially if that is something like Catcher in the Rye and that's really what the original post is about. It is often a sign of poseurdom or of being unduly influenced by it.

Those people are total phonies.
posted by shakespeherian at 7:37 AM on June 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


One Of the great things about being married - from that pout on you can buy infinity WH40k books

I can imagine pouting would be on display, yes.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 7:43 AM on June 22, 2012


Years ago, I came home to find my ashtray missing. My roommate was home, but with the door closed, and I figured he borrowed it. I knocked on his door, which he hardly ever closed, and he opened it and there he was hanging out with some guy, clearly on the tail end of a date that had gone well. So I get my ashtray back and the last thing I hear before I close the door behind me is "so here are my D&D books..."
posted by griphus at 7:51 AM on June 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


(Er, it was "clearly" the tail end because they were sitting close together and speaking softly, not because they were discussing D&D in flagrante.)
posted by griphus at 7:52 AM on June 22, 2012


until you have admit that there are various ways human intelligence can manifest in art, and then you actually have to spend time talking to someone rather than dismissing them with rule-of-thumb tribal-signification dealbreakers.

I want to add to Greg Nog's earlier comment. I remember a long-ago relationship self-help book (yes, I know) which had a really good piece of advice in it: When you're dating, think less about personality and more about character. This article and comments brought me back to that.

The end result of using tribal signifiers, and mainly these, when dating, is the inevitable Relationship Question (on the green or to Dear Prudence in Slate or Carolyn Hax in WaPo or...) "I've found this great man/woman. We have so much in common! We stay up all night discussing Chuck Palahniuk/A Song of Ice and Fire/Ayn Rand and I've never found someone with whom I've connected so well before! But..." And it's a big BUT: "She cheated on me with her ex." "He smokes pot all day and can't hold down a job." BUT WE HAVE SO MUCH IN COMMON! Admittedly, it's usually the young and inexperienced who ask these questions, and usually they wise up. But my point is that tribal signifiers (personality) can't really tell you whether a person will have what it takes (character) to be a good partner.

This is where you absolutely have to spend time talking to people in order to get to know them. Because "I like Hemingway"is not that good of a clue as to whether he's going to treat you like Hemingway did the women in his life. Really.

I think people grow out of this. I also think that if what one wants is a casual hookup then one can be more picky about personality and less about if they can be in a relationship.

Yes, I am definitely Taking The Link Too Seriously here. *g* But I wanted to muse upon how this kind of tribal-signifier screening process is flawed, and not just for taste or class reasons or sheer pretentiousness/ridiculousness.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 7:55 AM on June 22, 2012 [4 favorites]


Decani: ""Problematic but possibly negotiable" would be:
Chucks Klosterman [...]"


okay, yeah, I own a Klosterman book that I bought in an airport before I knew what I was getting into, and I understand where you're coming from.

"[...] and Palaniuk."

I only own one, and it's Rant and I really really like it. Guess you and I are not going to be friends.

"Cormac McCarthy"

I am ready to fight you now. Is a fistfight okay, or do you want to do like daggers or something?
posted by komara at 8:41 AM on June 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


Rosie M. Banks: But my point is that tribal signifiers (personality) can't really tell you whether a person will have what it takes (character) to be a good partner.

If you're talking about "tribal signifiers" in the sense of "Star Wars vs. Star Trek vs. Twilight" sure, those are silly.

But tribal signifiers can point to more than personality, they can also point to values as well: "How do we divide meal-preparation work?" "Will we have children, and if so, how many?" "What kind of education will my children receive?" "Will a shared household be a safe place to discuss and/or practice religion and/or politics?" "Will this person be comfortable with my non-normative sexuality in the long-term?" "Can I take this person home to meet my parents without starting a fight?" "What kind of music can I play that won't make my partner want to jump out the window?"

Not that I date anymore, but if I looked over a bookshelf to find a large volume of works from a religious and/or political perspective that's radically different from my own, then I'm going put on the brakes and start asking questions about what kind of relationship they want to have with queer, liberal, and eclectic "none" like me. And maybe the answers will be a deal-breaker and maybe they won't. But that's a part of trying to find a compatible partner.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 9:08 AM on June 22, 2012


Everyone likes to hate on the shite books teenage girls read, such as Twilight, but not one mention of Tucker Max's books? Really?
posted by JLovebomb at 5:47 PM on July 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


I thought we'd already firmly established that.
posted by restless_nomad at 6:40 PM on July 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


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