Tuesday, April 21, 2015

#SOL Story: My Husband Read a Book--Almost!

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My husband is a self-professed non-reader--in the English teacher, book lover, bibliophile sense of the word reader. 

In the nineteen years we've known each other, he has read only a few books. A couple of years ago his doctor recommend he read Bill Bryson's A Short History of Nearly Everything. I ordered the book, and Ken is still reading it--periodically and reluctantly. It is taking him a very long time to read Bryson's Short History. I've tried to get Ken to abandon the book because I know he's not enjoying it. He has repeatedly refused. 

When I left for Europe last month, I handed Ken a copy of The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics by Daniel James Brown.  Ken has one chapter left in the book as I write this. I'm sure he'll finish reading this evening. 

Throughout his reading journey, Ken has adopted some of my reading habits: He stops to tell me something interesting, to share his thoughts about the story, to comment on important moments in history that matter to him. 

Last night I asked Ken what about the book appeals to him:

"The underdog story. There's one guy who was kicked out of his home when he was 15 and his father remarried. Specifically, it's about one member and how they work together as a team. It's interesting because you see how hard a couple of these kids work to get their education. One guy is living in a room at the YMCA and barely has enough money to pay for his education. Some have summer jobs and get paid very little for working very hard." 

When a reporter bumped a hole in the boat with his head right before the Olympic trials, Ken was outraged. I'll not repeat his string of expletives, but his response was as passionate as any I've heard. 

Ken will reach the end of The Boys in the Boat today, and even though he thinks of himself as a non-reader, I know there's a reader of professional literature, trade publications, reports, newspapers, etc. living inside my intelligent, perfectionist husband; he just needs to find the right reading journeys that lead him to the finish line. 

*The next book I have for Ken to read is Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand. I think he's ready for this epic reading journey. 


  1. I've seen the book "The Boys in the Boat" and it looked interesting. It is true, finding the right book is critical! I like how you are trying to help weed out the good from the not so good for him! That is a real help when you are trying to get into the habit of reading (at all or again!)

  2. Good for you and your husband. It took me 30 years before I found a book for my husband to read for pleasure and not information. Now he reads quite often. Unbroken sounds like a good second book. I read it and enjoyed it very much. Another good book is Born to Run, especially if he is a runner.

  3. I've been trying to explain this to my students, I just don't have the books to lend them, or recommend to them yet. Reading what's right for you is all a "non-reader" needs. Of course you hate reading, you've only read what you've been forced you read, and you hate classic British lit... try something else.

    So glad you're making a reader of your non-reader!

  4. My husband reads the same books!!! He loved The Boys in the Boat, a gift from me this past Christmas. Bill Bryson - wow, I think he's read everything by him. Yes, he will love Unbroken!!

  5. My husband is also particular about what he reads. he reads lots of newspapers and articles on line - he's very well informed. And he reads books about music, which is his field. He just doesn't seem to connect with fiction much. Thank you for this interesting post! I'll have to check out The Boys in the Boat.

  6. Sounds like a great title! Love that you still share books with your husband and how you built up to his epic read with the timing of he book gift.

    1. The book gift, not he... Yeesh, commenting on the iPad is sometimes tricky business.