Doing things with your significant other is fun. But it can be difficult too. Vacations sound great, right? But where to go? What to do? Even settling on a Netflix show can be challenging.
But when it comes to finding books you both like to read, well, that can be the most challenging of all. After all, a Netflix show is a commitment of 45 minutes. A book is a commitment of days or even weeks.
My husband and I have very different book preferences. I’m all about the young adult literature. He, on the other hand, can read a disturbing amount of history and classics. Those are vastly different genres, so finding a happy medium we both enjoy can be tough. But in the 10+ years we’ve been married here are 10 books we can both agree on.
This is a science fiction classic that everyone needs to read at least once. Most people tend to discover this book in their teenage years, but reading it as an adult brings a whole different depth to the story of kid geniuses preparing to battle aliens and save humanity. It’s not a long or difficult read, but like all good science fiction it makes you question and evaluate various aspects of morality and ethics. The sequels and prequels to this book (and there are a bunch of them) are some of my husband’s favorite as well, though I haven’t gotten around to reading them yet.
I Am Number Four
This is definitely a YA book/series, which normally would turn my husband off, but not these books. He saw the movie and liked it enough to read the book. Then he was hooked. We both were. We’ve read all the books in this series, and the novellas. The writing style isn’t the strongest, but the storytelling and creativity is wonderful. The basic premise is aliens live among us. There are two species: one good, one bad. The good guys are limited to a select number of alien teenagers who are the last survivors of their destroyed planet. The bad aliens are bent on destroying them and enslaving humanity. Thankfully the good guys have special powers that develop as they grow up. I have a teenage sister who thinks this is the greatest series ever written. Don’t hold the movie against the book because the book is great.
Murder on the Orient Express
It’s a classic you’ve probably heard about, but may have never read. I was a big Agatha Christie fan growing up, but my husband had never read anything by her until this year. I had begged him for years to try it and he finally did. And loved it! This is held up as a classic in the mystery genre for a reason. It’s a murder mystery that seems nearly impossible to crack. The characters are diverse and just when you think you’ve got the case cracked you start to question everything. It’s not an overly long read, and will keep you in suspense to know whodunnit?
OK, technically these are two books, but they’re by the same author on the same general topic and are both deserving of being on this list. These books are written by a surgeon, giving an inside look at the challenges of the healthcare industry. He explores a variety of topics and gives a first-hand account of what it’s like to be a doctor in today’s complex healthcare industry. Some chapters definitely made me and my husband queasy because some of the medical condition descriptions can be graphic, but power through because these books will open your eyes to many of the rarely spoken of challenges in healthcare.
This is my all-time favorite book so it naturally has to make my list, but my husband enjoyed it too. About 7-8 years ago my husband decided he wanted to read the classics. So I told him to give Jane Eyre a try. I wasn’t sure what he’d think of it, but was thrilled when he flew through the book. This is a great classic that reads well today. Yes, it’s a love story. But it’s more than that. It’s the story of a woman who overcomes one challenge after another and maintains her identity, self worth, and goodness through it all. Jane is a noble character deserving of good things happening to her and it’s easy to cheer for her. That’s not always the case in classic literature.
Catch Me If You Can
You’ve probably seen the movie with Tom Hanks and Leonardo DiCaprio. While the movie is fun and over the top, it has nothing on the book. The book is an autobiography of Frank Abagnale, who shares how he became one of the most famous impersonators of all time. His exploits will leave your jaw dropped and you’ll constantly be thinking, “No way. There’s no way this is true.” And you’ll also think, “There’s no way that could happen today.” And that’s true, thanks in part to Frank himself who later helped the government combat the types of crimes he used to commit.
Belgariad and Mallorean
OK, OK, this is technically two series, each comprising five books, but once you start you won’t want to stop. My husband got into these books when he was in junior high and they quickly became some of his favorites. I remember my brother reading them as a teenager too. I read them after I married my husband. And then read them again. And again. These books are fantasy at its finest. Sure, Lord of the Rings defined the genre, but it can sometimes become laborious with pages of flowery description. Sometimes you just want to get to the action. These series explore the hero’s journey of Garion, a farm boy who is actually a sorcerer. He goes on various quests and is joined by a team of exciting characters. This fantasy world is rich and the story moves along. Definitely worth a read, and a great series to get your teenagers into as well.
What book list would be complete without Harry Potter? My husband and I both got into these books when we were teenagers, before most people had even heard of Harry Potter. It was a series we both loved and shared from the moment we met. The hardest challenge was fighting over who got to read the 7th book first once it was released. Hint: it was me. Harry Potter is one of those books/series you just have to read. After all, wouldn’t you want a letter letting you know you’re a wizard or a witch and you’ve been accepted into a secret wizarding school? Sign me up!
I’m no economics nerd, but Freakonomics is the first book I’ve ever read that made economics not just tolerable, but fascinating. My husband and I first learned about Freakonomics when we watched the movie. Then my husband became a nearly religious devotee of the podcast by the same name. Strangely enough, we didn’t read the book itself until just recently. The book explores many of the same topics as the movie, but it’s definitely worth reading even if you’ve seen the movie. As the tagline of the book explains, Freakonomics explores the hidden side of everything. Bet you never thought about sumo wrestling matches being rigged, and why. You don’t have to know anything about economics to enjoy this book. The authors (one an economist, the other a journalist) explore a variety of topics that seem dull on the surface, but once you dive in it makes you start to wonder what the hidden side of everything actually is.
My husband is a big Any Rand fan. I want to read more by her, but The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged are massive books, filled with philosophy, and they are intimidating. My husband encouraged me to read Anthem as a starting point. This is one of Rand’s earlier novels and outlines the basic tenets of her philosophy called objectivism. While her philosophy is the basis of the book, the story is about a dystopian society that has lost all sense of individuality. To drive this home, the author doesn’t use personal pronouns. So if a character wants to say, “I walked a mile,” it is written, “We walked a mile.” This is a bit difficult to get used to, but it definitely helps show the lack of individuality. The main character fights against this and seeks to define himself as an individual. Even if you don’t buy into the objectivist philosophy, this is a book well worth the read. If you’re a fan of The Giver, you’ll probably like this book as well.
Have you read any of these books? What books do you and your significant other both enjoy?