Dear Literary Lady,
I really, really, really like this guy I just started dating, so I said I love all the same books he does. There’s just one tiny problem: I haven’t actually read them. What do I do? I don’t want him to find out!
–B.V., Evanston IL
Ah to be young and in love. “You love pink Starbursts?” “No way, I love pink Starbursts best, too!” “You hate fake people? That’s insane, I hate fake people too!”
Whoa. The unbelievable list of commonalities goes on, and soon you’re head over heels with the thought that someone finally “gets you.” You’re so thrilled to find someone whose soul is in sync with your own that you can’t bear to admit you flubbed some of the facts.
Have no fear, Literary Lady is here! And I’m going to rescue your budding romance with the following options:
1) Stay up all night reading the books he loves. Love them yourself. Never tell him the truth, because by reading all the books tonight, you’ve just made it true after the fact.
2) Plan to read all the books he loves, but realize that pulling a series of all-nighters to do so is neither prudent nor possible given your responsibilities in life. Make do with the wonder that is Sparknotes, but promise yourself you’ll get around to it eventually.
3) Find a book nerd friend who has read the same books your new love interest reveres. Ask your friend to tell you everything about the books so you’re caught up. Your friend will be delighted to do so.
4) Don’t have that book nerd friend nearby? Find a B&N staffer who can do the same! They’ll make you feel as if you’ve read the book yourself.
5) Crash a book club meeting about the books you’re supposed to have read. Absorb all the dialogue about the novel. Be sure to take notes, and bring cookies since you won’t have much to contribute by way of conversation.
6) Whatever you do, DON’T watch the movie and try to pass it off as having read the book. The movie adaptation may be glaringly inconsistent with the book, and it’s the fastest way to blow your cover around someone who has read it.
7) Stop dating the guy, change your identity, and move to another state. Don’t move back until you’ve read all the books. Now your secret will never be exposed.
8) Come clean. I know this one’s scary, but you might be pleasantly surprised by his reaction. He might not care as much as you think, and may in fact respond by immediately lending you his favorite books.
Lastly, calm down. No need to beat yourself up about it or live in mortal fear of being caught in a fib. The truth is, what you’re doing isn’t so different from people who pretend they like sports or the theater or undiscovered garage bands or even each other’s cooking in the interest of supporting and sharing interests with their loved ones.
Who knows, coming clean might even inspire him to confess he’s never your favorite novels, either!
Love and paperbacks,