Books: Deal Breakers or Deal Makers?

I’ve heard my friends spew off lots of deal breakers — one of my friends has a whole list of them — but I’ve never thought of deal breakers in terms of books. One of The New York Times‘ most e-mailed stories this week is a piece by Rachel Donadio about how books play into relationships. The article mentions that some people even break up with their significant other or refuse to keep seeing someone just because of literary differences.

I’m a book-a-holic, a bibliophile who loves to read and collect used books, but I wouldn’t break up with a guy just because he didn’t like reading or because of a difference in literary tastes. It is an added bonus, though, if the guy likes reading and can share this pleasure with you. If this is the case, you can chat about books and read them together. C’mon, you have to admit that’s a cute idea. Plus, if he likes books, you don’t have to rack your brain trying to figure out what to get him for his birthday or Christmas!

I’ve found that sometimes reading a book that another person likes can draw you closer to the person by giving you a sense of what they relate to and what they find interesting. I’m always intrigued if a guy introduces me to a new book/author, rather than listing off titles I’ve heard all too many times, like “Catcher in the Rye.” I’d categorize this as one of the “cool books” that people often put on their list of literary favorites. It’s safer to say you like a book if lots of people like it.

More than 300 people responded to the Times article to highlight the books they like — and the books they’d prefer their significant others to stay far away from. They’re worth a look.

So, do you consider books to be deal breakers or deal makers?

Published by Mallary Tenore Tarpley

Mallary is a mom of two young kiddos -- Madelyn and Tucker. Mallary absolutely loves being a mom and often writes about the need to find harmony when juggling motherhood and work. Mallary is the Assistant Director of the Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas at the University of Texas at Austin, where she manages the Center's various programs related to distance learning, freedom of expression, and digital journalism. Previously, she was Executive Director of Images & Voices of Hope and Managing Editor of The Poynter Institute’s media news site, Mallary grew up outside of Boston and graduated from Providence College in Rhode Island. In 2015, she received a certificate in nonprofit management from Duke University. She now lives in beautiful Austin, Texas, with her kids, husband Troy and cat Clara. She's working on a memoir, slowly but surely. You can reach her at

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