Readers Write

Summer Reading with Friends & Lovers

by Meagan Frank

Books Make a Difference wants to know all about our readers’ affairs. Ahem, namely the intimate connections forged with and through books. So this month we asked: Are you reading a book with someone this summer? What’s the book? Who’s reading it with you? Is reading the same book with your best friend or spouse good for your relationship? What books have you read together in the past? How did you choose which book to read? What was your experience like?

“Books are love letters (or apologies) passed between us, adding a layer of conversation beyond our spoken words.” —Donalyn Miller, The Book Whisperer: Awakening the Inner Reader in Every Child

One of my family’s summer traditions is to visit the local library and get our three children registered for the summer reading program. The last couple years, my older two, a son who is going into eighth grade and a daughter who will be in sixth grade, have picked out titles to read with me. This summer, my daughter picked two titles in The Clique series, written by Lisi Harrison, and my son picked Vince Flynn’s American Assassin and Kill Shot. I cannot say these books would have been my pick, but I know the valuable connection when I learn about my children through the books they choose, and I always use the books for teachable moments. Our youngest, who will be going into second grade, is reading Charlotte’s Web with me. She and I are literally sharing the reading responsibility. It is an exciting transition in books for her and a step into a new phase in our mother/daughter relationship.

There are other books I’m sharing, too. I’m reading the Paradox of Choice with a woman friend and mentor of mine, and three more books by authors I plan to interview for upcoming issues of Books Make a Difference.

“That’s one of the things books do. They help us talk. But they also give us something we all can talk about when we don’t want to talk about ourselves.” —Will Schwalbe, The End of Your Life Book Club

Books have been a continual bridge of conversation with my mother through the years. She usually has a stack of books she has finished, and she is hopeful I’ll take them and read them so we can talk about them later.

I believe books are meant to be shared. Authors share their stories and their lives, and readers want to share the reading experience with friends and family so they are not the only ones changed by the process of reading a good book.

What some of our readers think about sharing books:

Julie writes: “My best friend doesn’t live near me anymore. We travel somewhere every year for vacation and we have a book we have agreed to read before we get there. We pick the next title before we go our separate ways for another year. It is one of my favorite traditions with her.”

Christian writes: “I think reading together is a really solid bonding habit. I usually allow my reading buddy to choose since I’m pretty flexible. I enjoyed being able to experience a book alongside someone awesome!”

Stephanie writes: “We are doing a summer reading program with all three of our kids and one for ourselves!”

Debby writes: “My husband has passed away and although I love to read, I could never get my husband interested in picking up a book. If I read a book that was turned into a movie he might watch that. Fortunately, all my children love to read.”

Amy writes: “Yes, me and my son read together, and we pick the books that are appropriate for his age and his level.”

Heather writes: “Wish my hubby would read with me.”

Kathy writes: “I don’t read many other titles with my hubby except the ones we read together to work on our marriage. This summer we are reading Sacred Marriage.”

Tiffany writes: “I read books with my daughter all the time. My boyfriend doesn’t read. I wish he would, and I think it’s fun to talk about books. I love, like really love, reading.”

Katie writes: “My daughter and I are reading a book together—The Giver. It started out more as a way to get her to read more than the simple books (Magic Treehouse, etc.), but now I am totally intrigued with the story! It is taking all of my will power to not finish the book on my own after she goes to bed because I promised we would read it together. I will occasionally choose to read a book together or at the same time as my daughter(s), which leads to good conversations.”

Andrea writes: “Not reading with anyone, and I don’t think reading the same book does much other than talking about it.”

Karen writes: “I love to hear my husband’s voice. I let him choose the book because it doesn’t matter to me. I could listen to him read anything at all. I love that special time together, just for us. The book he chose for us to read aloud together is Five Families: The Rise, Decline, and Resurgence of America’s Most Powerful Mafia Empires. He didn’t realize it’s more than 750 pages; it may take us years to finish. But I’ll love every minute of it!”

Bill writes: “When I go home to visit my extended family in the summer, my cousin has a stack of books she’s read from the best seller list. She hands me two or three she thinks I’ll like. It’s like having a personal book picker. She hits the mark every time. In that one week, I read more great books in between time with family. Intriguing and relaxing. Even though my cousin and I don’t read the books together at the same time, we end up having a common reference point for conversations about authors, stories, and many other life references embedded deep in the plots or locations.”

Georgia writes: “I have never read a book with anyone. I guess I’ve never really even thought about it. Now I’m going to have to try that!”

What about you? Tell us about your shared reading experience.

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