20 December 2015

Okay Readers

To touch upon one of the happier aspects of my unwanted but perhaps inevitable experiment with online dating, I've taken a survey of what women are reading in a five-mile radius of my domicile.

What is this scientific method? I scroll to an algorithmically-approved woman (whose eyebrows appeal) and click through to her profile. I swoop straight for the books section for close textual analysis and here, all too often, we lose the plot. But, if our tastes in authors are felicitous (and she reaches a height of no more than 5'8"), I message after a period of time between ten minutes and three weeks. 

An aside that emphasizes how much I care about literature: I mistakenly had a picture of my bookcase up as my main profile photo for a weekend, which is too on the nose even for me. 

As we say at my place of employment, let's put these issues in different buckets. 

Back button and recoil from keyboard cussing out OkC algorithms:
Ayn Rand

Just no:
Paulo Coehlo (my Christ, The Alchemist is the OkLady Bible*)
Tom Robbins (I never find a Michael Robbins fan)
Chuck Palahniuk (this is not just poor taste, it's passé poor taste)
Mary Oliver (poetry for non-poetry readers)
"I enjoy novels and non-fiction"
"I read over 20 books in 2015"
"I'm not used to reading but I love NPR" 
"Too many to name" (but if you had to try...) 

*Tangentially: my younger cousin's high school English teacher decided her class would read The Alchemist instead of The Great Gatsby....in a generation, we will have the country we deserve.

Deadly combinations:
Eat Pray Love and Lean In
Me Talk Pretty One Day and No One Belongs Here More Than You
Henry David Thoreau and Thich Nhat Hanh

Say no to hipsters and self-help.

I probably ought to be okay with but actually am not:
Jeffrey Eugenides (can Eugenides be the next guy we all agree sucks, now that we've turned viciously on Franzen?)
Haruki Murakami (is Murakami just grown-up Harry Potter? (somehow this is most damaging if they only list 1Q84))
Malcolm Gladwell (especially Outliers--at least read the filet of this overrated muppet)

Hardest call to make, on OkC as in life:
Raymond Carver (he often appears in an otherwise respectable list and I just want to tell her, "let's embrace Lish's other children, the Hannah, the Holland, my god the Hempel--we can do better than old Ray!")

Regularly occurring combo I almost get judgy about till I realize this is also me:
J.D. Salinger and Wes Anderson (oh aren't you precious with your kittenish Franny and Zooey cuddled up next to your Criterion of The Royal Tenenbaums--wait, shit!)

If you put an age range down to 25 you have to deal with:
Harry Potter (I can only hope there are fewer than two exclamation points after Potter and it doesn't appear at the exclusion of all other novels...and, anyway, don't the books have individual titles? can I at least get a hot take on how Prisoners of Azkaban is great and Goblet of Fire is trash?)

You think everyone is talking about this but OkEveryone is not:
Elena Ferrante (two months till I even found someone who listed it...and then she was too tall.)

For posterity, here's what I list:
In Search of Lost Time to White Girls. Autobiography of Red to Bluets. Sleepless Nights to Light Years. Wuthering Heights to Birds of America.* Another Country to The Emigrants.

*Combo added because a friend said, "why don't you put something down someone might have actually read?" That's right, Wuthering Heights is the most popular book I could think to list.

But let's keep it positive! On to the winners' bracket...

Piqued my interest enough I had to message:
Mary Ruefle 
Tess of the d'Urbervilles (went with the quote about the imperfect perfection of Tess's lips)
Raymond Chandler
Autobiography of Red (if I can't have at least one awkward cocktail (or--dare to dream--a non-awkward cocktail) with a woman who shares with me same damn obscure favorite book of poetry I'll quit the game) 

Through my astonishing condescension let me say, in the end, that I credit the folks who read anything in 2015. They're more worthwhile than those who list no literature at all.

Except for the Ayn Rand fans.

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