When we first started dating my then boyfriend-now husband and I started this fabulous tradition that we have kept up all this time. Each summer we swap books. We each pick out a book that the other person HAS to read. It really forces us to go out of our comfort zones and provides great topics of conversations as we read through the books the other has “assigned.” My background is in all things culture & history (Bachelors in Art History) & his is in the sciences (Bachelors in Micro & Molecular Biology with a Masters in Teaching Chemistry). Our book selections usually reflect those backgrounds but we do try to pick a book with the other person in mind. A key part to making this fun is that the other person is NOT allowed to have a part in the book picking and it HAS to be read before the next summer.
The list below is all the books we have exchanged over the life of our relationship:
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Here are the books I’ve had to read:
- Your Inner Fish: A Journey into the 3.5-Billion-Year History of the Human Body (tracing man’s evolution to the first fish with limbs)
- Atlas Shrugged (I guess you could call it a “capitalist manifesto” but it is so much more than that)
- Man’s Search for Meaning (a psychiatrist’s memoir of his time in various concentration camps during the Holocaust)
- The Genie in the Bottle: 67 All-New Commentaries on the Fascinating Chemistry of Everyday Life (the chemistry of everyday life)
- The Hot Zone (the first emergence of the Ebola virus in the 90’s)
- Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World has Never Seen (about the Tarahumara tribe & their superhuman running)
- Germs: Biological Weapons and America’s Secret War (about biological warfare and America’s role in global conflict)
- The Beak of the Finch: The Story of Evolution in Our Time (about Darwin’s accidental discovery on the Galapagos Island)
Here are the books I’ve made him read:
- The Handmaid’s Tale (Christian-based dystopian future that restricts female sexuality)
- In the Name the Rose (medieval murder mystery with a monk detective)
- Slow Food: The Case for Taste (the origin and importance of the slow food movement in Italy)
- La Bella Lingua: My Love Affair with Italian, the World’s Most Enchanting Language (one woman’s adventure learning and falling in love with Italian language and culture)
- A Wrinkle in Time (sci-fi fantasy children’s novel)
- The Count of Monte Cristo (a long tale of love and revenge in early 19th century France)
- Brief History of Time (Stephen Hawking’s classic book about astrophysics)
- China in Ten Words (a thematic look at China’s Cultural Revolution under Mao Zedong)
- Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of the American Community (about the changing landscape of community-based events & neighborly cooperation)
*Note: the year he assigned me Atlas Shrugged we agreed he would get 2 books because that one was so massive & difficult to read. But y’all, that book changed my life!