It wasn't easy, but I decided to start with one of BabelBabe's excellent suggestions. I'm not exactly sure why I picked this list, since to the best of my recollection Rusty is the only man I've ever dated who's given me books, and he generally does an okay job of it, mostly because I'm really good about keeping my wishlist up to date. What I like about this list idea is that it made me wonder: what books WOULD turn me off a guy if he were to give them to me? What tomes would make me think, on a date, that there is no way I'd be letting this guy get his clumsy mitts anywhere near my delicate flower?
Aha. You see where things get interesting.
- Anything by Charles Bukowski - I like Bukowski just fine, if I'm in the right mood, but the kind of guy who doesn't realize that every young lady has to come by Buk in her own way and on her own time... well, we don't need pushy young gentlemen like this in our lives.
- Anything by Henry Miller - Ditto the above, sort of. The kind of guy who'd give Miller to his female companion on a first date is the same guy who'd try to talk her into a threesome with him and her best friend on the fourth date... you know, because it would expand her horizons and open her mind and all.
- Anything by Anais Nin - Dude is trying way too hard with this one. We ladies can find our own arty porn, thanks.
- Any book that he clearly wants to borrow back as soon as you're finished with it - See also all of the above.
- Ishmael - This book offends every last rational sensibility in my small but sturdy frame, yet it weirdly appeals to some guys. Which is fine, whatever floats your boat, etcetera, but please don't feel you need to pass it along.
- Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance - Just... no.
- Chick lit - It's not that I'm denigrating chick lit. I liked Bridget Jones's Diary as much as anybody. But chick lit is iffy territory unless you know it well, and I'm making a wildly sexist guess that most guys don't. Give a female book-lover the wrong piece of chick lit over dinner, and you may as well just say goodbye after you split the cheque.
- Anything with the sticky goop from the bargain-bin sticker still mucking up the cover, or worse, anything with the bargain-bin sticker STILL ON IT - Nobody wants to hook up with a spendthrift for the rest of her life -- and goodness knows I love a book bargain as much as the next person -- but the early phase of a relationship is not the time to demonstrate your awesome frugality.
If you're wondering what book would buy you a one-way ticket into my pants (if you're not wondering, I'll understand if you need to erase that image from your brain RIGHT NOW), it would be a recently unearthed, never-before-published novel by Jane Austen. Autographed. To me. If you have one, email me and I'll tell you where I live. But shhh... keep it between you and me. I'm married.
Okay, I've gone first. Now it's your turn to ante up. What books would be -- or have been -- a surefire turn-off for you? (If you're playing along on your own site, be sure to give us the link to your post!)
Mine's up. Enjoy!
I've done it. Sorry it's MySpace.
I love the idea. Here's mine
OK, any kind of relationship book would put me right off, but anything conservative and/or religious would like especially freak me out. Like Fascinating Womanhood or (shudder) The Surrendered Wife.
It would help if I put up a link... mine's up at notanillusionscrap.blogspot.com.
I love a good list. :)
Yay for lists. Gives me something else to blog about.
Getting out of my pants!
Anything by Ayn Rand means that the giver and I will never again touch in this lifetime.
I'm confused. Do guys actually give girls books on a first date? I might forgive him any of his choices, since book-giving would be such a novel (ha ha) experiment.
On the flip side, I think the best book I ever gave a girl was Love in the Time of Cholera ... but then again, I wasn't the recipient. Was this bad?
I linked this post to my group book blog to see if they wanted to play along!
I once *did* break up with a guy, at least partially, because of a book he gave me. A self-help book. Called "Boundaries". Written from a religious perspective. Apparently Jesus really, really wants me to be self-sacrificing, but maintain proper boundaries, and I guess just be self-sacrificing when my man wants something. No, the book did not make sense.
Hi. I thought this was such a great idea, I suggested it to my book club members. I'll send you their suggestions, or maybe they'll post to you directly.
You can see mine at
Ha! I think a lot of our lists were separated at birth. And egads, I didn't even consider self-help books! You're not supposed to indicate that your potential other has flaws! A large part of the success of my relationship with Rusty is that he pretends that I'm perfect and I pretend that I don't notice him rolling his eyes when he does it.
Cap'n, it's always a good idea to give someone Love in the Time of Cholera. Even if the other person never reads it, (a) it's got "love" in the title, which gets you to second base (at least), and (b) it's by a proper writer beloved of smartypantses everywhere, so it's a compliment to receive it.
Oh, and B.B., I went to your link, but I couldn't see your list. Am I missing it somehow?
Started a discussion about it over here.
I second your entire list, with special emphasis on the Henry Miller. That said, I'm about to marry a man who misquoted Keats to me on our first date - I can't hold too much of a literary grudge.
You need to get this shirt.
Hahahahahaha! I once did get a Miller novel from a date. And no, he didn't get there.
This is such a fantastic idea, I couldn't resist.
Love your site!
Hah! This list really made me laugh. I had not heard of Bukowski until a new beau gave me a book of his, and rhapsodized about how it was "just like my life" and "this guy really gets me." After reading the book (forget which one), I returned it to him and told him it might not be a great idea to advertise that you are a drug-using misogynist. Of course - it did save me a lot of time finding it out on my own! :)
A boyfriend once gave me Desolation Angels by Kerouac and it was the perfect gift. A different guy gave me a book of Robert Bly's poetry, which made me reconsider dating him. That's not why we broke up, but it did hint at our incompatibility.
HA! Ask me why I have a copy of Anais Nin's Little Birds. Then ask me if I ever actually went out with the guy who was trying to convince me to do so.
(The world's cutest little hardbound copy of Anna Karenina however, was a much bigger hit. Much nicer guy too, which I doubt was a coincidence.)
I love lists, here's mine .
This is a lot of fun! Here's me:
A Confederacy of Dunces
"Sorry, it's not you it's...no wait, it's you."
There was once a boy I very nearly "dated" who gave me a copy of Richard Russo's "The Risk Pool". It's a great book but the face in the author photo up front had been intentionally obliterated. Freaky.
I completely neglected to mention anything by Bill O'Reilley or Rush Limbaugh, or Ann Coulter! Those would be grounds for immediate date termination as far as I'm concerned. :)
It's funny to read you write "I'm not exactly sure why I picked this list" two days before Valentine's Day. A freudian warning perhaps?
Book giving in general is a bad idea idea during the dating phase of any relationship. Flowers and chocolates are dreamlike in essence, as is any good date.
Giving a book is like talking about past relationships, or worse still, discussing the future.
Talking about books is cool, but giving one is going too far. Dating is like lucid dreaming, and no one, not even Doppelganger, reads in her dreams.
If some guy gave me Anais Nin on a date, I'd cackle at him like an old prude "I know what you're up to!"
then I'd hand it back to him, sorry dude, I'm just NOT that into YOU.
I feel like a rock star : )
Here's my list:
Try that again. Sorry.
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