Weekend Wonderings

A lot of you will have read the piece titled ‘You should date a girl who reads‘ (we featured it here aaaages ago)

Well the other day, I found this….which I happen to think is even lovelier. It is challenging. It’s made me think. I’ve read it several times, and I’m still not sure whether it’s satirical, or making a case for settling, or something else altogether, but I still find it strangely beautiful, and am interested in what you guys have to say on it…

You should date an illiterate girl.

By Charles Warne

Date a girl who doesn’t read. Find her in the weary squalor of a Midwestern bar. Find her in the smoke, drunken sweat, and varicolored light of an upscale nightclub. Wherever you find her, find her smiling. Make sure that it lingers when the people that are talking to her look away. Engage her with unsentimental trivialities. Use pick-up lines and laugh inwardly. Take her outside when the night overstays its welcome. Ignore the palpable weight of fatigue. Kiss her in the rain under the weak glow of a streetlamp because you’ve seen it in film. Remark at its lack of significance. Take her to your apartment. Dispatch with making love. Fuck her.

Let the anxious contract you’ve unwittingly written evolve slowly and uncomfortably into a relationship. Find shared interests and common ground like sushi, and folk music. Build an impenetrable bastion upon that ground. Make it sacred. Retreat into it every time the air gets stale, or the evenings get long. Talk about nothing of significance. Do little thinking. Let the months pass unnoticed. Ask her to move in. Let her decorate. Get into fights about inconsequential things like how the fucking shower curtain needs to be closed so that it doesn’t fucking collect mold. Let a year pass unnoticed. Begin to notice.

Figure that you should probably get married because you will have wasted a lot of time otherwise. Take her to dinner on the forty-fifth floor at a restaurant far beyond your means. Make sure there is a beautiful view of the city. Sheepishly ask a waiter to bring her a glass of champagne with a modest ring in it. When she notices, propose to her with all of the enthusiasm and sincerity you can muster. Do not be overly concerned if you feel your heart leap through a pane of sheet glass. For that matter, do not be overly concerned if you cannot feel it at all. If there is applause, let it stagnate. If she cries, smile as if you’ve never been happier. If she doesn’t, smile all the same.

Let the years pass unnoticed. Get a career, not a job. Buy a house. Have two striking children. Try to raise them well. Fail, frequently. Lapse into a bored indifference. Lapse into an indifferent sadness. Have a mid-life crisis. Grow old. Wonder at your lack of achievement. Feel sometimes contented, but mostly vacant and ethereal. Feel, during walks, as if you might never return, or as if you might blow away on the wind. Contract a terminal illness. Die, but only after you observe that the girl who didn’t read never made your heart oscillate with any significant passion, that no one will write the story of your lives, and that she will die, too, with only a mild and tempered regret that nothing ever came of her capacity to love.

Do those things, god damnit, because nothing sucks worse than a girl who reads. Do it, I say, because a life in purgatory is better than a life in hell. Do it, because a girl who reads possesses a vocabulary that can describe that amorphous discontent as a life unfulfilled—a vocabulary that parses the innate beauty of the world and makes it an accessible necessity instead of an alien wonder. A girl who reads lays claim to a vocabulary that distinguishes between the specious and soulless rhetoric of someone who cannot love her, and the inarticulate desperation of someone who loves her too much. A vocabulary, god damnit, that makes my vacuous sophistry a cheap trick.

Do it, because a girl who reads understands syntax. Literature has taught her that moments of tenderness come in sporadic but knowable intervals. A girl who reads knows that life is not planar; she knows, and rightly demands, that the ebb comes along with the flow of disappointment. A girl who has read up on her syntax senses the irregular pauses—the hesitation of breath—endemic to a lie. A girl who reads perceives the difference between a parenthetical moment of anger and the entrenched habits of someone whose bitter cynicism will run on, run on well past any point of reason, or purpose, run on far after she has packed a suitcase and said a reluctant goodbye and she has decided that I am an ellipsis and not a period and run on and run on. Syntax that knows the rhythm and cadence of a life well lived.

Date a girl who doesn’t read because the girl who reads knows the importance of plot. She can trace out the demarcations of a prologue and the sharp ridges of a climax. She feels them in her skin. The girl who reads will be patient with an intermission and expedite a denouement. But of all things, the girl who reads knows most the ineluctable significance of an end. She is comfortable with them. She has bid farewell to a thousand heroes with only a twinge of sadness.

Don’t date a girl who reads because girls who read are the storytellers. You with the Joyce, you with the Nabokov, you with the Woolf. You there in the library, on the platform of the metro, you in the corner of the café, you in the window of your room. You, who make my life so god damned difficult. The girl who reads has spun out the account of her life and it is bursting with meaning. She insists that her narratives are rich, her supporting cast colorful, and her typeface bold. You, the girl who reads, make me want to be everything that I am not. But I am weak and I will fail you, because you have dreamed, properly, of someone who is better than I am. You will not accept the life that I told of at the beginning of this piece. You will accept nothing less than passion, and perfection, and a life worthy of being storied. So out with you, girl who reads. Take the next southbound train and take your Hemingway with you. I hate you. I really, really, really hate you

Categories: Books, Weekend Wonderings
9 interesting thoughts on this


  1. Posted November 2, 2013 at 10:01 am | Permalink

    My gut instinct is to love it, but like you I’m not sure why. I think I need to come back and read it again, and until then I know it’s going to be something I think about in quiet moments of the day (if there are any that is!)

    Have a lovely weekend folks xxx

  2. Posted November 2, 2013 at 10:18 am | Permalink

    It’s beautifully written, absolutely incredible manipulation of words. But my God that man is an emotional coward.

  3. Katielase
    Posted November 2, 2013 at 11:40 am | Permalink

    I found this unutterably sad because while it’s stunningly written, it feels like a vast misunderstanding of love and relationships. Love isn’t finding the man of your literary dreams. Love is so much more than that, it’s grown from shared experience, it’s painful and difficult, it isn’t a story, a literary device, there’s nothing to live up to in love.

    I’ve read a million books, I’ve read love stories and romance and fairytales, I’ve longed for literary heroes and done all the things in this piece, and I am happy, stunningly stupidly happy, with a man who is nothing like that. Real love is so different to most literary love, it makes me sad that this person has lost out on the joy of love, and not the ecstatic dizzy joy of falling in love, but the laying constant joy of being loved for who YOU are, even when you fail that person, even when you’re not their dream, being loved in those moments is the mosh beautiful part.

    KL xx

    • Posted November 2, 2013 at 12:46 pm | Permalink

      KL I think you have summed up everything I wanted to say but didn’t quite know how.

      Though I think part of the reason it makes me sad is also because the writer is clearly sad. He sounds like someone that has loved a girl that reads and has lost.

      It is exceptionally written and I think it is definitely something that will stay with me xx

  4. Anon
    Posted November 2, 2013 at 4:36 pm | Permalink

    I hate this post. I despise the author. It’s manipulative, controlling and dismissive of people who don’t read whilst making those who do feel better about themselves. It’s undercut with a hint of faux vulnerable ‘save me’ pity and is all the worse for being so beautifully written. The author knows what he’s doing. I see it as similar to some of the tricks you see the more sophisticated domestic abusers do…

    • Posted November 2, 2013 at 5:06 pm | Permalink

      Agreed. I don’t feel pity for this man at all. He wants to be with women who don’t have the intellectual curiosity to question or challenge him.

    • Lottie
      Posted November 2, 2013 at 9:27 pm | Permalink

      I agree with you and Anna K entirely on this one.

      He seems to despise either type of woman, reader or non reader (as an aside-what an odd way to divide people up!)

      I read this piece this morning and it has burrowed under my skin and agitated me throughout the day. It’s a piece of writing which is undeniably stylish, provocative and full of impact but balanced with the bitter intent of the writer….it just leaves me reeling! Wow!

      Have thoroughly enjoyed the way it had made me think but I hope I never meet this man!

    • Posted November 3, 2013 at 12:52 pm | Permalink

      Yes to this- first, and this is nitpicky, but it bugs me that he conflates “doesn’t read” with “illiterate” ie, can’t read. Nicely condescending.

      The whole article can be summed up as “find a girl you aren’t really interested in, and waste her life for her,” or “find an ‘intellectual’ girl and set up an impossible ideal as your goal, claim she demanded it and blame “her” standards every time you fall short.”

      Isn’t he a catch…

  5. Kate G
    Posted November 4, 2013 at 6:30 am | Permalink

    Provocative multilayered peice this. He desperatly does want to be with his girl who reads, who he’s lost. He doesn’t hate her in his heart: the repetition of “hate you” is him trying to convince himself and this whole piece is him lashing out in bitteness and fear of the bleak future without her, a future with the antithisis of her ie someone who doenst read.

    Blaming that bleak future on a lack of reading and not on a mutual lack of communication is emotionally stunted, and to me echoes his lack of emotional responsibiliy now that relationship with reader girl is no more.

    On another level – his judgemtal view that all woman who doent read will bring their partner HIS vision of bleak future is staggeringly disgusting when considering around the world there are woman with no access to educaiton or books! Though I’m pretty sure this alignment was furtherest from his pity-party-mind when writing ;)

    Leaves a bad taste in the mouth.

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Hello! We're Clare, Aisling and Anna and welcome to a corner of the world where smart, flawed, real women talk about the bigger picture; about their experiences, stories and opinions on all aspects of being a woman today, from marriage to feminism to pretty, too.

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