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maggie & me & books // somewhere in Ghana, 2010

My twist on Rosemarie Urquico’s “You Should Date A Girl Who Reads,” with some words by Charles Warnke. It’s a little cheesy, but I’m feeling particularly grateful for literature today. 

Date a girl who reads. Date a girl who spends her money on books instead of clothes, who has problems with closet space because she has too many novels and essays and pages of poetry. Date a girl who has a list of books she wants to read, who has had a library card since she was twelve, who will never see the movie before she’s read the book.

Date a girl who reads because a girl who reads understands syntax. Literature has taught her that moments of tenderness come in sporadic but knowable intervals. A girl who reads knows that life is not planar; she knows, and rightly demands, that the ebb comes along with the flow of disappointment. A girl who has read up on her syntax senses irregular pauses, the hesitation of breath, the rhythm and cadence of a life well-lived. A girl who reads perceives the difference between a parenthetical moment of anger and the entrenched habits of someone whose cynicism will run on well past any point of reason, or purpose, run on far after she has packed a suitcase and said a reluctant goodbye and she has decided that I am an ellipsis and not a period and I’ll run on and on and on —

Find a girl who reads. You’ll know she does because she’ll always have an unread or half-underlined book in her bag. She’s the one lovingly perusing the shelves in Barnes, the one you’ll find sniffing the pages of an old book in a secondhand book shop because she can’t resist smelling the pages, especially when they’re yellow and worn. She’s the one with the Nabokov, the one with the Woolf. The one in the library. The one in the window of her room, reading, sipping, wondering, grappling.

She’s the girl reading in the corner of that café down the street. If you take a peek at her mug, the non-dairy creamer is floating on top because she’s engrossed already, lost in a world of the author’s making. Sit down, you. She might give you a glare – most readers don’t like to be interrupted. Ask her if she likes the book. Buy her another cup of coffee.

Let her know what you really think of Murakami. See if she read all of Moby Dick or just the most famous chapter. Know that if she says she understood James Joyce’s Ulysses she’s just saying that to sound intelligent. Ask her if she loves Alice or if she would like to be Alice. Find out what she thinks of the dreams of Paulo Coehlo’s wandering shepherd, and of those yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars.

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Elsewhere museum // Greensboro, NC 2010

Date a girl who reads because she knows the importance of plot. She can trace out the demarcations of a prologue and the sharp ridges of a climax. She feels them in her skin. The girl who reads will be patient with an intermission and expedite a denouement. But of all things, the girl who reads knows the ineluctable significance of an end. She is comfortable with them. She has bid farewell to many heroes with only a twinge of sadness.

If you find a girl who reads, keep her close. Give her books for her birthday, for holidays, for anniversaries. Give her the gift of words, in poetry and in song. Give her Neruda, Pound, Sexton, Cummings. Know that when she corrects your grammar, she does so lovingly, and because she feels comfortable enough with you to do so. Understand that she knows the difference between books and reality but that she can’t help but try to make her life a little like her favorite book. It will never be your fault if she does — she has to give it a shot somehow.

Lie to her. Because she understands syntax, she will understand your need to lie. Behind words are other things: motivation, value, nuance, dialogue. It will not be the end of the world. And fail her – a girl who reads knows that failure always leads up to the climax. Girls who read understand that all things must come to an end, but that you can always write a sequel. That you can begin again and again and still be the hero; that life is meant to have a villain or two; that people, like characters, develop.

You’ll propose on a hot air balloon. Or during a rock concert. Or very casually next time she’s sick. Over Skype. You will smile so hard you’ll forget how to stop. You will write the story of your lives, have kids with strange names and even stranger tastes. She’ll introduce your children to the Cat in the Hat and Aslan, maybe in the same day. You will walk the winters of your old age together and she will recite Keats under her breath while you shake the snow off your boots.

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image from Tumblr

Date a girl who reads because girls who read are the storytellers. The girl who reads has spun out the account of her life and it is bursting with meaning. She insists that her narratives are rich, her supporting cast colorful, and her typeface bold. The girl who reads will accept nothing less than passion and a life worthy of being storied – and she’ll give you just that in return. If you want the world and the worlds beyond it, date a girl who reads.

Or better yet, date a girl who writes.

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3 thoughts on “date a girl who reads.

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