For the Love of Books: (Fantasy) Boy meets (Literary Fiction) Girl (part 3 of 6)

By Becky Swanberg, writer, teacher and friend of eMoon


Setting: May of 2000.

Scene: First date. Guy and girl both in late teens. Conversation about movie preferences.

Girl: I like the classics.

Guy: The classics. Like Die Hard?

Girl: (confused) No…like Casa Blanca.

Guy: Oh. You mean old movies. Why would you want to watch a black and white movie when there is color now?

Girl sits in stunned silence. Scene fades to black.

Yep. That was us. Stepping out on the unsure waters of a possible relationship and trying to figure out if this was all going to work. What? Old movies? You think Die Hard is a classic? And this was just the movies discussion; the book discussion was years ahead.

But we pushed through it. Through long distance dating, we figured some things out and eventually found an identity as a couple and at some point decided to make us a permanent thing.

Cue the wedding march.

Books played into things, at different times. We read some books together, me reading aloud on road trips and lazy afternoons and picnics. We read through the Chronicles of Narnia in our first year together. We tackled Til We Have Faces on a road trip one spring. We read a few biographies that interested us.

At some point we decided to read Pride and Prejudice together. I mean, after all, how could my life partner truly get me if he didn’t know Elizabeth and Darcy, couldn’t place Pemberley or Netherfield? By the end of the first chapter, my husband turned to me and said, “I don’t get it. What do they do all day?”

Girl sits in stunned silence. Scene fades to black.

Just kidding. I’m not sure what I said to that. But in the end, we decided to do something else, find something else that we could both enjoy more. And we found it, fell into the deep end, you could say, all by accident.

Our second year of marriage, we were prepping for a road trip to Chicago so I stopped by the library to grab an audio book. I was pregnant, so the extra motion sickness was making it hard for me to read out loud in the car. I was in a hurry and scanned my options quickly, settling on a random fantasy novel that looked kind of Lord-of-the-Rings-ish to me. It looked like something he would like, so I checked it out.

We set out on our trip, popping in disc 1 as we drove out of Omaha. We arrived in Chicago seven hours later. I don’t remember where we were in the story or if we had started discussing it yet, but I do remember that we pulled up to our hotel and neither of us wanted to get out of the car. We were completely hooked. The characters, the setting, the pace of the book- we just didn’t want it to end.

Well, lucky for us, we had stumbled on the prequel to The Wheel of Time. So there were years of books waiting for us in this epic fantasy series. We read on car trips, stretched out on the couch in our living room, by the light of the bedside lamp at night. We read in hospital rooms and hotels and airport terminals. We read and read and read. The characters of these books became part of our shared language, our common friends, as we slowly worked our way through the rest of the fourteen books. 

Then life moved on, babies kept coming, road trips happened regularly. Along the way, we found authors that appealed to both of us. We discovered Stephen Lawhead, a perfect literary union of beautiful language, rich world building, and classic re-tellings of timeless stories. Hood. Scarlet. Tuck. Books we both loved so much, and loved even more that we could love them together.

Sixteen years into marriage, we’ve grown towards each other in so many ways, but we’re still uniquely us. I’m still enamored by old books, still a sucker for clever dialogue and thick prose and characters that I feel like I’ve met. He’s pushing through things like Game of Thrones and still a hardcore fan of the epic fantasy novel (So. Much. World building.)  In books (and in marriage) we have found that we bring our own thing to this game.  But we’ve also learned that there’s overlap, that there are things in life and in books that we honestly enjoy together.

Those things unite us and remind us that we aren’t so crazy to be in this together. That we make sense. That we’re good for each other.

I’ll leave you with this last scene.

Setting: Ten years into marriage. Husband is proudly introducing Star Wars to his young boys. Wife is in and out of the room, folding laundry, kind of watching.

Episode III is playing. Padme is pregnant. Anakin is lured to the dark side. Obi-Wan fights Vader. Padme gives birth. Whole family watching is enthralled.

Wife: (yells in shock) What??? It’s twins???

Husband sits in stunned silence. Scene fades to black.

Yep. That was us. Still surprising each other. Still shaking our heads. Still glad we stepped out on those unsure waters and never looked back. 

Follow Becky's other amusing musings on her website at www.beckyswanberg.com. While you're at it, do us a solid and encourage her to publish those manuscripts!