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[Insert joke about Ayn Rand dealbreaker here]
August 13, 2010 10:32 AM   Subscribe

Looking for love among the bookstacks? Try Alikewise, a dating site based on book tastes, instead.

On a slightly different note, Paris Review editor Lorin Stein occasionally plays literary agony aunt now on the magazine's blog, where he recently advised a reader on books that will attract attention on the subway.
posted by peripathetic (52 comments total) 16 users marked this as a favorite

 
Ha. Just this morning my wife and I were joking about the potential to use Paperbackswap as a dating site. "I knew he was the one for me when he listed ten books that were on my wish list."
posted by Zed at 10:34 AM on August 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


Based on the people I've met who shared my book interests, I'm going to have to pass on this.
posted by hermitosis at 10:39 AM on August 13, 2010 [11 favorites]


Do people really want to do date their identical twin?
posted by smackfu at 10:41 AM on August 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


Were I to become a member, I think the fact that someone else would actually be ON that website would mean we had enough in common to go out.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 10:42 AM on August 13, 2010 [3 favorites]


Call me elitist, intolerant and overly pretentious, but every one of those quotes from "interesting folks" gives me that pinpoint headache I get every time someone says something that is so horribly wrong I do not know where I should begin correcting them. This is, of course, why I live in a cave in the woods with a blind, deaf and mute man-servant.

...books that will attract attention on the subway.

I once had a plan, during the release of the Watchmen film, to rent out copies of the graphic novel at the Union Square station, and collect them back at Lorimer St., just so all kids heading into Williamsburg can see one another reading it. I got the idea when I lent a copy of it to my girlfriend at the time and she mentioned that she had never had so many people try to hit on her as when she was reading it.

Meanwhile, I have never seen a piece of literature become a fashion accessory like that until every third person on the train started reading one of the "The Girl Who..." novels. At least they're reading them, though. Hopefully. Everyone reading Watchmen was turning those pages far too quickly.
posted by griphus at 10:43 AM on August 13, 2010 [2 favorites]


My girl likes Nicholas Sparks novels, Twilight, and Dan Brown.

I'm cool with that. Everyone I've met who has my taste in books is dour and pessimistic...
posted by sonic meat machine at 10:44 AM on August 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


smackfu: Similar book interest does not equal identical twin.
posted by thankyouforyourconsideration at 10:46 AM on August 13, 2010


Once I recovered from seeing the picture of Larvabot at the "blog" link, I tried to find my favorite author on Alikewise, and no one else has her in their profile. I'll just take that as a cosmic hint and look into getting a Larvabot of my own.
posted by gladly at 10:46 AM on August 13, 2010


Do people really want to do date their identical twin?

I did, and then I met him, and turns out, he likes dudes, too! Just like me. C'est la vie.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 10:48 AM on August 13, 2010 [9 favorites]




My girl likes Nicholas Sparks novels, Twilight, and Dan Brown.

I'm cool with that. Everyone I've met who has my taste in books is dour and pessimistic...


Huh. You know, I never thought about it before, but... in my single days, if I'd seen a profile where someone listed all the books I liked as being their favorites, and I had somehow failed to recognize them as books that are also on my shelves, that's probably where I would've gone too. "Wow, she's pretentious AND maudlin. Sounds like a blast at parties."
posted by Mayor West at 10:53 AM on August 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


Arguing about books is sexier than agreeing about books, I've found, and more likely to lead to sex. But if you're looking for something long term you might save money buying books you'll both read.
posted by tigrefacile at 10:53 AM on August 13, 2010 [2 favorites]


My husband's favorites (William Gibson, Thomas Pynchon, Terry Pratchett) are definitely not mine. And he is not interested in reading most of what I listen to/read on ereader/read in regular book form. We do talk a lot to each other about what we read, and we both enjoy that, and also learn to appreciate from afar authors we don't like one on one. But we never, ever would have met via a site like this.

Also, I hate being interrupted when I read, so I like book covers which prevent people from approaching and asking me about my reading choices while I am reading them.
posted by bearwife at 10:56 AM on August 13, 2010 [2 favorites]


That's why you should leave home with your book in an attractive "How to Kill an Annoying Stranger and Get Away with It" dust jacket.
posted by Zed at 11:00 AM on August 13, 2010 [12 favorites]


Do people really want to do date their identical twin?


Well, I see the website more as a place for book lovers who, for some reason, don't have friends or acquaintances who read or know many who read. A Goodreads or Library Thing with romantic intentions. Besides, I don't think it's possible to find two people with identical tastes in books, is it?
posted by peripathetic at 11:00 AM on August 13, 2010


...I like book covers which prevent people from approaching and asking me about my reading choices while I am reading them.

Yeah, this is what I love about my eReader. I am not a social person during my commute and I do not want to have to explain (to a perfectly nice, reasonable person just trying to make conversation) that Cryptonomicon is about "uh... World War 2" and pray they don't ask any follow-up questions.
posted by griphus at 11:02 AM on August 13, 2010


@bearwife

Or an e-reader.
posted by peripathetic at 11:02 AM on August 13, 2010


We do talk a lot to each other about what we read, and we both enjoy that, and also learn to appreciate from afar authors we don't like one on one. But we never, ever would have met via a site like this.

Yeah, mrs ozzy reads a lot of something called "non-fiction," I think? Not really familiar with it.

I read a lot of "library new-release shelf with title and/or blurb that suggests lack of bodice-ripping and/or two-handed-steaming-teacup-drinking."
posted by uncleozzy at 11:04 AM on August 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


Pepys blue.
posted by zippy at 11:12 AM on August 13, 2010 [16 favorites]


I'm not sure that matching favourites is an indicator of much (though it could be cool).

Horribly mismatched favourites though could be useful information.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 11:26 AM on August 13, 2010


I agreed that what really matters is what you like, not what you are like... Books, records, films -- these things matter. Call me shallow but it's the fuckin' truth.
posted by shakespeherian at 11:50 AM on August 13, 2010 [2 favorites]


Search: NOT Ayn Rand
posted by l33tpolicywonk at 11:51 AM on August 13, 2010 [3 favorites]


Why is it that I find dating sites depressing?
posted by Relay at 11:57 AM on August 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


Meanwhile, I have never seen a piece of literature become a fashion accessory like that until every third person on the train started reading one of the "The Girl Who..." novels. At least they're reading them, though. Hopefully. Everyone reading Watchmen was turning those pages far too quickly.

Yeah, but the readership on the Larsson books is just way too diverse to say anything that telling about the reader, in my observation. On a plane this June, I was (discreetly! on my Kindle! ...which, of course, is a fashion accessory, too, but never mind that) reading The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest when I noticed that the elderly woman sitting a couple rows ahead of me was reading ...Played with Fire. On the way off the plane, I saw a youngish guy dressed business casual reading ...Dragon Tattoo, which I then saw an angry-looking high-school-aged girl toting around in hardcover (and obviously quite sick of carrying it around, though I probably only imagined she looked at my Kindle like she wanted to punch me and take it) through the airport. ...Hornet's Nest was newly released then, and there were several uneven stacks of it in the giftshop window; I wouldn't be surprised to learn that one out of five people who bought a book there that day bought it.

Point being: If a common point of interest is that common, is it really meaningful? It might be a good conversation starter, but anything could be on the other end of that chat. I wonder if that's a bug or a feature...
posted by kittens for breakfast at 11:59 AM on August 13, 2010


You actually run into the same issue when trying to recommend books or movies. Bestsellers tend to just correlate to other bestsellers, not to any underlying features of the books.
posted by smackfu at 12:01 PM on August 13, 2010


Do people really want to do date their identical twin?

I don't think there's really any danger of that happening. I mean, you wouldn't really post the things on your profile that you really read, would you? You'll still make your choice based on the way someone looks (and maybe the personal information provided); the books they profess to read are just another way of semi-randomly narrowing the choice down somewhat.
posted by daniel_charms at 12:09 PM on August 13, 2010


typing the most obscure things I can think of in the search box, just to see what kind of people are these who read them.
posted by daniel_charms at 12:12 PM on August 13, 2010


I do not want to have to explain (to a perfectly nice, reasonable person just trying to make conversation) that Cryptonomicon is about "uh... World War 2" and pray they don't ask any follow-up questions.

I have a coworker who has started asking me about the plot to whatever book I'm reading, and this has made me realize that most books have really dumb-sounding stories.

'Gravity's Rainbow? It's about paranormal researchers during World War II.'

'Firmin? It's about a rat who lives in a bookstore and wants to be a writer.'
'So it's like Ratatouille?'
'Uh, yes.'

'Lunar Park? It's about a guy with the same name as the author but who isn't really the author, and his house is haunted.'
posted by shakespeherian at 12:20 PM on August 13, 2010 [3 favorites]


Aw. When I was 17 and thought this metric was all I wanted in a partner, this would've been like crack to me. I'm still looking for someone to talk Alice Notley and Plum in the Golden Vase and Christina Stead with...

Funny enough, I've been randomly hit on more on LibraryThing than anywhere else on the social 'net the past few years, including OkCupid. Which just confirms what I already knew: my booksense is much sexier than my face. I can totally live with that.
posted by ifjuly at 12:20 PM on August 13, 2010


I'm also semi-tempted to create a profile stating that my favourite authors are Benno von Archimboldi, Pierre Menard, Stephen Dedalus, Anna Wulf, and Kilgore Trout.
posted by daniel_charms at 12:28 PM on August 13, 2010 [4 favorites]


OK, so I went and checked it out. I mean, hell, I'm a librarian, I've read more books than most people, I don't own a tv, it might be a good place for me to find someone compatible. Sadly, there wasn't anyone around my age in my part of the country.

I was with a man for a brief spell recently who said he thought novels were a waste of time, I should have gotten out of that relationship sooner...

I don't necessarily want someone who reads all the same books, I just want someone who reads stuff I might want to read, someone who doesn't think Tom Clancy or Dan Brown are the best writers around.
posted by mareli at 12:32 PM on August 13, 2010


Really, doesn't this boil down to a multiple choice question?

Do you read?

a) No
b) Magazines
c) Best sellers
d) Good books
e) Hard stuff

Most people will be pretty happy with someone in the same category, and possibly one higher.
posted by smackfu at 12:36 PM on August 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


No love for Finnegan's Wake? No wonder those bastards are single.
posted by tigrefacile at 12:45 PM on August 13, 2010


When I was young I sometimes sat in coffeeshops with my much-marked-up copy of Hartshorne's "Algebraic Geometry" prominently displayed, in the hopes that it would induce interesting women to come and talk to me.

This was not how I eventually met my wife.
posted by escabeche at 12:50 PM on August 13, 2010 [10 favorites]


These days, I don't think book tastes are as much a signal of compatibility as the mere desire to read books and to have them around the house. I don't think I've made a single friendship solely on the basis of common reading interests, though it's always nice to meet someone who has common ground.

It's fascinating to look at titles of books my spouse buys or borrows from the library and to realize that I never knew some of the interests he had. Likewise for him I'm sure.

My attractions have been generally based on factors other than (but not excluding!) reading choices, to be honest, though one possible stereotype of a librarian is "Ooh, I'm attracted to you because you read books! How thrilling!"

Can you recommend any books that will make interesting people approach me if I read them on the subway? During A Moveable Feast, people came up and quoted entire passages verbatim, and it really enhanced the reading experience. —Alexandra Petri

Unless this is some subtle satire, it fascinates me to no end that New York City subways are apparently like this. On most other cities' subway systems that I've used, the cell phone chatter and other yakking is so insistent and persistent that serious reading is a goal only for the brutally determined or the obsessively focused.
posted by blucevalo at 12:51 PM on August 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


Well, no cell phone service in NYC subways, at least the underground ones. Not that they are pickup central or anything.
posted by smackfu at 1:00 PM on August 13, 2010


Maybe* I was setting the bar too low, but whenever I've been looking for any sort of long term relationship -- whether it be sexual or friendship -- I've always just been pleased with poeple who read at all.


* - What I mean is "maybe in regards to reading level"; I can certainly tell you I've gone through periods of setting the bar too low in other categories.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 1:11 PM on August 13, 2010


I agreed that what really matters is what you like, not what you are like... Books, records, films -- these things matter. Call me shallow but it's the fuckin' truth.

I too once subscribed to the High Fidelity model of identity for a while ... when I was 24. Tust me, it's not true (I'm not claiming that's what you're claiming; you're just quoting ...)

Pynchon, DFW, and Richard Powers are my holy trinity (with DeLillo, Huxley, and Doctorow (E.L.) as backup posse) but my wife has only read The Crying of Lot 49 and (probably) Brave New World.

I like long fiction; she reads Sookie Stackhouse novels and non-fiction ... YMMV. (Anyway, I've said this and much more before so I'll quit now.)

Plus, if you and your partner like the same things, you won't have any fun things to do by yourself. (I guess it depends how much you like doing things by yourself or with other friends.) Believe me, when you've been together for 10+ years or more, you'll gonna want some alone time. Sometimes its nice to go to that No Age concert alone.

Unless this is some subtle satire, it fascinates me to no end that New York City subways are apparently like this. On most other cities' subway systems that I've used, the cell phone chatter and other yakking is so insistent and persistent that serious reading is a goal only for the brutally determined or the obsessively focused.

Are you kidding? I'm married with a baby. The BART train and bed are the only places I get to read. (Also, IMO, the noise from the trains is generally much, much louder than the people aboard both BART and MTA.)

Gravity's Rainbow? It's about paranormal researchers during World War II.'

It's about a guy whose erections can (maybe) predict V2 bombings in WWII London and his search for a "Schwartz-Gerat" (sp?) rocket that might explain why .. and then Major Marvy gets castrated" /spoiler alert
posted by mrgrimm at 2:31 PM on August 13, 2010


Meanwhile, I have never seen a piece of literature become a fashion accessory like that until every third person on the train started reading one of the "The Girl Who..." novels

Clearly, you never rode the F train during peak Motherless Brooklyn.
posted by dersins at 2:39 PM on August 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


Arguing about books is sexier than agreeing about books, I've found, and more likely to lead to sex.

Like the time I was debating with myself whether the last one was the best Tarot graphic novel of all time or not.
posted by yerfatma at 3:41 PM on August 13, 2010


...this has made me realize that most books have really dumb-sounding stories.

Fortunately, Infinite Jest is large enough that you can knock them out with it and run if you ever get asked that question.

Unless this is some subtle satire, it fascinates me to no end that New York City subways are apparently like this

I have those earbud headphones with the rubber ends, so I turn my iPod off and keep them in while I read. It helps quite a bit. It does get a bit difficult for dry stuff; well-paced fiction can keep me entranced enough to block out everything but the book, but I'm reading a WWI history right now and find myself having to reread sentences and paragraphs over and over.

Clearly, you never rode the F train during peak Motherless Brooklyn.

Funny enough that you specifically mention the F. I grew up off the F train, and live off it right now, but that book peaked during the short while when I was living off the D, so all I got to see were Russian and Chinese pulp novels.
posted by griphus at 3:50 PM on August 13, 2010


Reminds me of a button I saw in a bookstore one time: "Women Who Read Too Much"
posted by Danf at 3:50 PM on August 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


Okay, so I gave in and clicked the link. Flagged for our attention on the front page:

Member John on Slaughterhouse Five: “It has such a sad ending. And I love the drawing of the asshole.”

Man, those “Metafilter: (something)” bits just write themselves these days.
posted by joe lisboa at 4:29 PM on August 13, 2010


It's about a guy whose erections can (maybe) predict V2 bombings in WWII London and his search for a "Schwartz-Gerat" (sp?) rocket that might explain why .. and then Major Marvy gets castrated" /spoiler alert

To be fair I was only about halfway through when I was asked. That's why I still thought there was a plot.
posted by shakespeherian at 4:35 PM on August 13, 2010


I'm with hermitosis on this, and Mrs. RKS (whom I would have never met on this site, because she's way more into Sci-fi and especially Fantasy than I) was in full agreement.
posted by randomkeystrike at 5:21 PM on August 13, 2010


Given some of the stuff that went on in my MFA program, I'm not sure this is such a good idea.
posted by angrycat at 7:24 PM on August 13, 2010


I like Zed's suggestion best: That's why you should leave home with your book in an attractive "How to Kill an Annoying Stranger and Get Away with It" dust jacket.
posted by sundrop at 7:28 PM on August 13, 2010


My vast lack of success at dating disqualifies me from speaking on this topic at all. Keep that in mind. But I suspect that the single most effective approach would be to look for someone with the same sense of humor rather than similar taste in authors. If anybody knows of a website that matches couples according to what makes them laugh, please let me know.
posted by Uncle Chaos at 7:36 PM on August 13, 2010 [2 favorites]


I just managed to mess up my librarything account, so I think a book dating site would be trouble. But, I could see it being helpful - Ayn Rand is not the only red flag author out there - there's also Bukowski. A shelf full of Bukowski (and/or Palahniuck) is usually a sign of something. An angry and sad something.
posted by betweenthebars at 9:57 PM on August 13, 2010


Hey, I love Bukowski and have a shelf full of his stuff (his three collections of letters are excellent), but I wouldn't say I fit the profile of most Bukowski fanboys I've met through my youth. And Palahniuk, blecch.

I set one up just to see how it works and the search function to list favorite books is irritating. I can't remember now but I was trying to find something by someone relatively obscure--not Bakhtin like someone like him--but then the title was really generic. It only lets you search by one or the other, and when I searched for the author name it didn't come up, but I know with other similar searches I tried when I then searched by title something would come up. But I can't do that with this book because the title is way too common. GRAR. Like, I know it's probably in there somewhere, but I can't get to it.
posted by ifjuly at 7:11 AM on August 14, 2010


While we're teasing Ayn Rand's ghost (word has it she's a captain of ghost industry and will blow up your train car!), here's a Randroid's response to an Albert Einstein biography.
posted by mccarty.tim at 9:44 AM on August 19, 2010


Let me just say that I think this is kind of a bad idea. I don't like people I agree with, as there's nothing to talk about but self-congratulatory "We're so right about everything!" conversations.

What would be interesting is if it tried to find someone who liked books by authors who had polar philosophies, opposing themes in the literature, etc.

But I'm one to talk. I'm the type to read halfway through a novel, give up, and just read more non-fiction about the history of atomic technology or food science.
posted by mccarty.tim at 9:47 AM on August 19, 2010


If anybody knows of a website that matches couples according to what makes them laugh, please let me know.

Brilliant. Build in a kink/porn preference algorithm and you got a million-dollar idea.

While we're teasing Ayn Rand's ghost ...

Read Sewer, Gas, & Electric:

The year is 2023. High above the canyons of Manhattan, a crew of human and android steelworkers is approaching the halfway point in the construction of a new Tower of Babel. The Tower is the brainchild of billionaire Harry Gant, who is building it as a monument to humanity’s power to dream. Meanwhile, in the streets and tunnels below, a darker game is afoot: a Wall Street takeover artist has been murdered, and Gant's ex-wife, Joan Fine, has been hired to find out why. Accompanying her is philosopher-novelist Ayn Rand, resurrected from the dead by computer and bottled in a hurricane lamp to serve as Joan's unwilling assistant.

A shelf full of Bukowski (and/or Palahniuck) is usually a sign of something. An angry and sad something.

I have a lot of Bukowski and I'm not angry nor sad. Just incredibly depressed. :D (I do love his poetry.)

The concept of "red flag" authors is a good one though. (Rand wouldn't be on mine - I read and owned the Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged both; I also read and owned Battlefield Earth (now Dianetics ...) and The DaVinci Code.)

Red flags for me would be: Rush Limbaugh, Newt Gingrich, the Weekly Standard or other GOP crap; multiple editions of the Christian bible; Dr. Phil; 7 Habits of Highly Successful People; Eats, Shoots, and Leaves.

Yellow flags would be: bad pulp (V.C. Andrews, Danielle Steel, Along Came a Spider); celebrity magazines (Us, etc.); anything that was inspired by and should be replaced by a Web site - Cute Overload, What White People Like, etc.; Wall Street Journal; Pamela; Smilla's Sense of Snow; celebrity biographies.
posted by mrgrimm at 12:24 PM on August 19, 2010


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