Sunday, March 13, 2011

Marital Reading Habits

I just received another of those gifts that every writer lives for: an email from a stranger, writing to tell me how much he or she enjoyed my novel. Whenever I get one of these, I always think of what Mark Twain once said: "I can live for two months on a good compliment."

This message, though, was a little different from the others. "This is the first book my wife and I read together, aloud to each other," the sender wrote, "and  it couldn't have been a better choice."

They read it to each other? Aloud? I tried to imagine a similar scene with my wife, Joanne. And as I did so, I felt a stab of guilt. I've worked out of my home for the past 24 years and, as a result, I not only have dinner with Joanne almost every night, we also often have both breakfast and lunch together. (And, yes, we still get along; in fact, we celebrated our 26th anniversary last month.) At breakfast and lunch, my nose is usually stuck in a book; hers, a newspaper or magazine.

Here's the problem: Joanne is a vocal reader. She loves to share what she reads. A health tip. An inspiring profile. A sad story. My reaction, I confess, is more impatience than interest. My attention span is so short that I must guard it jealously. Interruptions that take me away from a story I'm immersed in are just that: interruptions.

There's more. If I appear to be enjoying whatever I'm reading, Joanne will ask me to read a passage to her. Any guesses as to my response? If you guessed something along the lines of, "You can read it yourself when I'm finished," you win the Spot-the-Insensitive-Spouse award.

So when I received the email from the read-aloud couple, I envisioned a happy husband and wife, laughing and cuddling over a good book. I made a vow to respond more enthusiastically when Joanne reads something aloud to me. And I intend to keep that vow... right after I finish this page...


  1. Jim, love your humor. Joanne sounds like an amazing woman. You are lucky indeed. The new experience of reading with Joanne may even bring more great ideas to your WIP ;-)

    So true about the Mark Twain quote. Thanks for sharing. Receiving an unexpected and wonderful email from your readers is a wonderful moment. There will be more for you.


  2. I'll let you know how the new reading aloud program goes, Mia... if and when I start it!

    Thanks for stopping by.