Debate This: Do You Judge Guys Who Don’t Read Or By What They Read?

Earlier this week, we asked a bunch of guys on our IM what they want and do not want to see on the bookshelves of the women they date. Their answers were interesting and varied (Hide your copy of The Notebook! Books about soccer are sexy!) and so we decided to turn the question, somewhat, around on ourselves: do we judge guys who either don’t read or by what they read? Our conflicting views are after the jump — plus, share your thoughts in the comments!

JULIE SAYS: “Dude. read something.”

“Go ahead dude, tell me you don’t read anything but sports mags: I’ll just be silently judging you. It’s not that I judge a guy for what he reads — but if he doesn’t read, that’s a problem. I see reading as a sign of intellectual curiosity. If a guy shows a lack of interest in reading, I feel like we’ll be unable to connect in the way we approach the world. When I’m interested in something, I want to know everything about it, and books are part of that equation. A guy who doesn’t read — or who only reads about one thing — shows me that he lacks a level of engagement with the universe. And that’s no good.”

AMELIA SAYS: “Guys who don’t read probably won’t STFU when I’m reading.”

“What Julie said, totally. But also? The main reason why I won’t date a guy who doesn’t read is because I like to read so much and I like to read in silence and I just know a guy who doesn’t read will not let me enjoy reading in silence in his company. He’ll talk. He’ll start groping my boobs when I’m in the middle of a really good chapter. He’ll feel like I’m ignoring him. And goddddd that would be so annoying. I’m a pretty quiet person, actually, and I can be borderline reclusive; it’s really important to me to be with someone who likes and appreciates and can be comfortable sitting in silence. I find sitting in bed with someone, both of us reading, to be such a lovely way to wrap up the day. While I’m sure there are exceptions, I suspect that dudes who don’t read are total chatterboxes and I just can’t hang with that. Sowwy. As for judging a guy by what he reads — so long as it’s not Ayn Rand, I’m cool.”

AMI SAYS: “Sometimes dating a non-reader is easier.”

“I don’t judge men by the books they are or aren’t reading anymore. Once upon a time I thought that having similar taste in books, music, movies and art was a sure sign of compatibility with a guy. While I still do think it’s a kind of compatibility, it’s certainly not the most important kind. I have dated a couple of guys I really liked who weren’t readers. I found that this type of guy who wasn’t a super intellectual could be a good balance for my personality. Two intellectuals in one relationship can equal a whole lot of over-thinking and over-talking everything. (I once got in a fight about philosophy with a uber-intellectual boyfriend of mine. His fighting words were “You’re such a relativist!” Oy.) One of the non-reader guys I dated was an architect. He built stuff. And painted. And cooked. These are all things that I am very inept at and therefore totally impressed by. I discovered that dating a non-reader was actually pretty easy when it came down to it. On Sunday mornings I read and he slept. When he woke up, I read some more and he cooked breakfast. I talked about books with my friends. It was great.”

JESSICA SAYS: “How much and what you read shouldn’t be a dealbreaker.”

“I’ve read some pretty badly written books in my day. I’m thinking specifically of 50 Shades Of Grey, the Twilight series, and some awful book my sister lent me called Women, Food and God. (She promised it was “amazing.” Not so much, I have found.) I also have a bunch of books on my bookshelves about makeup and style, topics which some people might consider “frivolous.” But I there’s also more than a few well-regarded books on my shelves. I have a couple books that have won the Nobel Prize for Fiction, the Orange Prize, or National Book Critics Circle Awards. Books like Let The Great World Spin, A Visit From The Goon Squad or We Need To Talk About Kevinblow most books out of the water, quality-wise, and they are truly the reason why I love reading. However, any of these books are not the sum total of who I am as a person. It wouldn’t be right to judge me based on either the ‘smart’ books or the ‘easy’ books because I don’t fall perfectly into either of those camps. I’m someone who enjoys a trash vampire love story just as much as I enjoy a classic; different books suit me at different times and all of them make me happy to relax into at the end of a long day. And I would never want to date a guy who would judge me based on what I read, period, because I need to be with someone who understands that. This is how I want men to treat me and it would be hypocritical of me to judge a guy for what he reads. Although dating a reader — some kind of reader — is important to me, what I really judge a person on is their kindness, thoughtfulness and compassion. To me that’s what holds a relationship together, not our bookshelves.”

So, that’s where we stand on the topic. Now tell us: do you judge guys who don’t read or by what they read?