As is common, my romance with the woman who would soon become my wife started with a date. But, it was an unusual date, because we went to a bookstore rather than a coffee store or a movie. Six years into our marriage, I can safely say that it was that bookstore date that helped things click. That evening, we went to the Oxford Bookstore at Churchgate and started casually browsing through the shelves. I postured a bit by leafing through the classics and holding the books at an angle to get her attention.
But when I saw her reach for a juicy potboiler, I ditched the pretense and began listing all the pulp-fiction greats I’d read so far. She reciprocated by quoting one of my favourite lines from the genre. Suddenly, without trying hard, we had opened up to each other, warts and all. The date was excellent; we sat on low stools, reading excerpts from highbrow books and laughing at the pretentious prose. We ended up at the attached coffee shop, writing pithy notes in the books we’d bought each other. Love was in the air, and it smelt of books and fresh coffee.
Talking about books in the initial stages of a relationship mostly ends in a happily-ever-after. I recently discovered that what we did so organically is being institutionalized very quickly. The Internet is replete with blogs and sundry posts prescribing the bookstore date as a great ice-breaker for couples. People have come up with several fun things a couple can do on such an outing. Suggestions include sharing jokes from joke books, picking up a travel book and exchanging details about a destination that you’d like to visit someday, or even swapping recipes from cookbooks to whip up great meals for each other. When things are sufficiently warmed up, the couple can move to the next level and pick up a book of love poems and read their favourites out to each other. The more adventurous suggestions involve reading a quick passage from an erotic book to each other. Of course, what happens next doesn’t involve the bookstore.
The current trend of buying books online is a great advantage, but I assure you, dear reader, romance and convenience rarely go hand in hand. So ignore the tempting discounts and head with your date to a bookshop near you. And, if you hear a pair of suppressed giggles from the aisles, don’t be alarmed — it’s just another couple doing it by the book.