I remember the night perfectly. John and I had been on two dates so far and for the third, he suggested I come over and we make dinner together. I hadn’t been to his apartment yet and when I walked in, I immediately noticed something startling: he didn’t own any books (he also had a cardboard box in the middle of his living room that had “costumes” scrawled on the side in Sharpie, but that is a whole other story.)
I gave John the benefit of the doubt and asked if he did most of his reading on his e-reader or iPad. He said, “Nah, I don’t really like to read. I think I’ve only read five books in my entire life. I prefer to watch movies.”
As someone who makes their living with words and reads closer to five books a month, I was flabbergasted. I brushed it off with a “to each their own” comment, but in my head I was screaming, “Who is this person who doesn’t like books?!” I knew then and there that John and I didn’t have a serious future as a couple.
If John had been more up on recent online dating data, he might have had the foresight to pick up a book or, well, at the very least lie about being more literarily inclined. Literacy is a huge turn on for both men and women.
A recent survey of over 800 singles revealed that 84 percent of people believe that having read a wide selection of books makes you more attractive. Women are more likely to want a literary-minded lover: a whopping 87 percent of women prefer a partner who is well-read. Eighty percent of men agree, with just 1 percent of respondents stating they wouldn’t want to date somebody who read. (Newsflash guys: I don’t want to date you either.)
The survey showed that what you read is also important. Survey participants were asked about the works of fiction they’d most like to see on a date’s shelves, and they voted the following 10 books the most attractive of all. If these titles aren’t on your bookshelf yet, a trip to the library might be in order:
- To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
- Nineteen Eighty Four by George Orwell
- The Lord of the Rings (series) by J. R. R. Tolkien
- The Great Gatsby by F Scott Fitzgerald
- The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger
- The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (series) by Douglas Adams
- The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
- Harry Potter (series) by J.K. Rowling
- Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
- A Song of Ice and Fire (Game of Thrones series) by George R. R. Martin
So, what do these results mean? With social commentary like To Kill a Mockingbird and 1984 topping the list, it suggests that in this day and age, singles prefer partners who have a strong moral compass and a social conscience. Could the current news climate be accountable for this desire to find morally-upstanding partners? Perhaps. Sales of George Orwell’s 1984 have shot up in recent months following the U.S. election, and it’s interesting to see this reflected in people’s dating desires.
However, many of us are also searching for an escape from searing commentary, which is why fantasy and science fiction novels also fared exceptionally well in the survey. Women especially expressed a desire to see fantasy on their date’s nightstand, with 27 percent of female participants listing The Lord of the Rings in their top five books. Men’s tastes run more towards Douglas Adams – 1 in 4 men would like to see their date reading The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.
So, why are singles so concerned about what their date is reading? I have a few ideas.
- People like other people with interesting hobbies. An affinity for books shows that you’re curious about the world and open to learning new things – both desirable qualities in a partner. Also, books lead to ideas and opinions, which can lead to interesting date discussions.
- It shows you can focus on and commit to something. A love of reading indicates that you’re able to start something and see it through to the end. Spending hours with a book in order to get to the end requires commitment and follow-through, which are also qualities we seek from our partners.
- It makes you look smart. With the exception of that 1 percent of men who don’t want to date someone who is well read (seriously, who are you?!), in general, most people want to date someone who’s smart. Most of us still automatically associate literacy with brains.
This is all to say, if you’ve been avoiding that dog-eared copy of 1984 that’s been sitting on your coffee table for the past five years, now might be the time to finally pick it up. It could be the best thing you do for your dating life this summer.