“That’s a lie,” he says.
“I also read Harry Potter.”
And that’s generally all my husband reads. Don’t get me wrong, he’s tried reading other books (other genres, even!), but none of them held his interest past the first chapter. And he has his own reasoning for it.
“I can only read books when I already know the story.”
Say what? He reads A Song of Ice and Fire because he has already seen the HBO show. He reads (and rereads … and rereads again) the Harry Potter series because he has read them at least five times by now and has seen all the movies probably a dozen times. He knows these stories by heart, and this familiarity breeds comfort.
I tried to get him to read some Neil Gaiman works (namely American Gods), which I thought were close enough to his other fantasy interests to at least warm the coals, if not spark a real fire. I even pushed upon him Ken Follet’s historical fiction masterpiece The Pillars of the Earth, but it was a struggle for my husband to even get through the first chapter because it was simply unfamiliar reading territory. So to help, I purchased the miniseries on DVD. He watched the first three episodes—then started reading Game of Thrones again.
As a literary fiction enthusiast who is studying book publishing, what am I supposed to do? I want to be able to share with my life partner all of the wonderful and exciting things that I come across in the publishing world. Every day when I come home from class, I recount with great fervor my entire academic day, eager to teach my aspiring-author husband everything I have learned and all the amazing books that we work on here at Ooligan. My fervor is met with a polite nod and a kind smile, and then he turns back to his illustrated edition of Sorcerer’s Stone.
My point is this: not everyone is a reader. I was raised in a family of nonreaders and a culture of illiteracy (hint: my hometown is #1 on this list). As much as I want to share my passion for literature with my loved ones, I have to remember that not everyone in my life shares in all of my interests.
So, how to cope:
First of all, my husband and I have plenty of other things we share in common. It just so happens that the one major thing that I’m dedicating my life to—and spending a generous amount of money studying—my husband doesn’t have too much of an interest in. He does aspire to be a successful author, and maybe someday I’ll convince him that reading other genres would actually aid him quite a bit in his writing, but for now he’s content to read exclusively in his little Westeros-Hogwarts bubble. And, in exchange for listening to me babble on about the publishing industry and my work at Ooligan Press, I listen to him rant and rave about various theories in the Harry Potter universe (in which I am, admittedly, extremely interested).
Secondly, there is this wonderful thing which Ooligan Press has so generously bestowed upon me as a sort of perk in the industry: other readers. Having an entire department full of multigenre readers is a strange concept to me (see above: most illiterate hometown). I now have dozens of classmates who not only read more than two series but, more importantly, are willing to read outside their comfort zones.
So I owe a huge thank you to Ooligan Press and the book publishing program at Portland State for bringing me closer to people who I can talk shop with and not be met with blank stares, polite smiles, or references to Game of Thrones.