Thursday, September 09, 2010

What It's Like to be Married to a Non-Reader: A Guest Post by Author Robin Spano

I was so intrigued by the sample chapters I read on the author's website of Dead Politician Society by Robin Spano that I pre-ordered the book and have since read it. Be sure and come back tomorrow for my review. Although the last thing I need is to become involved with another series given my already long list, I'm already hooked. Dead Politician Society is the first in a new mystery series featuring motorcycle enthusiast and undercover police officer Clare Vengel.

When I read in Robin's bio that her husband hates reading, I just had to know more . . . Please join me in welcoming Robin Spano to Musings of a Bookish Kitty!

Wendy asked me: What is it like for a writer to be married to a non-reader?

Actually, it rocks.

First, my husband is my biggest champion. Since we met (when I was a strung-out, partied-out 24-year-old and he was a 40-year-old businessman), he has believed in me. He doesn’t read my work objectively or critically—how would he, with nothing to compare it to? He just believes that I’m a writer (and in his warped mind, a good one).

Second, he gets me out of my own head. We don’t sit around discussing literature—my friends and family love to read, so I’m not starved for literary conversation—we go hiking and traveling and do other real world things.

When I say Keith doesn’t read, I mean he doesn’t. The last book he read cover to cover was Spycatcher by Peter Wright. He read it when it came out, in 1987.

“What?” you say. “But Robin, haven’t you written a book? How could Keith read Spycatcher and not Dead Politician Society?”

I mean, Spycatcher was pretty gripping. It’s the true life tale of an MI6 operative who witnessed the Communist betrayal and defection of Kim Philby and his cohorts, a series of events that inspired several awesome Le Carre plots.

And actually, what Keith did for me was even more amazing than read my book in its current shiny packaged form. He read half of my first manuscript at the time when I was both nervous that it was terrible, and toying with sending it out into the world.

He read, he laughed, he commented. He told me he could see the events happening as if it was a movie. (Another great thing about a husband who doesn’t know the writing industry: he thinks that naturally this book will be a movie.)

“Nice,” you say. “But why did he only read half?”

He stopped reading when I got an offer from a publisher. He’d been reading it to be encouraging, to convince me that I didn’t suck. Once the outside world seemed to be saying the same thing, he figured he could go back to his normal, avoid-all-reading self (aka the awesome man I married).

Some parting words for all you single writers: Don’t write off the non-readers. They might be the best match for you.

* * *
Robin Spano is a crime writer from Toronto, living in Vancouver. She loves to explore the world in her boat, on her motorcycle, and traveling new places with her husband. Her first novel, Dead Politician Society, has just hit shelves.

You can learn more about Robin Spano, and her book on the author's website. You can also find her on Twitter and on Clare's Facebook page.

© 2010, Wendy Runyon of Musings of a Bookish Kitty. All Rights Reserved.If you're reading this on a site other than Musings of a Bookish Kitty or Wendy's feed, be aware that this post has been stolen and is used without permission.


  1. Great post! I really enjoyed reading Robin Spano's guest post. The title has brought a smile to my face as I too married a non-reader. :D

  2. Oh what a wonderful post! I married a non-reader as well, which surprised everyone. But like Robin says, you're able to enjoy other things together and that makes life fun and different :)

  3. I like that positive attitude! I too am married to a non-reader, so I appreciated her acceptance (I have heard so many people say how horrible it would be to be married to a non-reader!). My husband reads, but not many books. He is a businessman and thrives on the newspapers and journals. I can't wait to hear about this book. I can almost FEEL the need to start a new series.

  4. Loved this post! My husband is a non-reader and that doesn't make him an ogre. :)

  5. I really enjoyed this guest post. For me, I'm thankful I have a reader as a husband, but fully understand that non-readers can make for great husbands as well. :) Isn't that like any passion though? One spouse likes one thing and the other - not so much? Everybody has their own thing. What I think is special about Robin and her husband is that he supported her in her passion when she needed it, even when it went across his natural grain.

  6. I can see where it would be good for a writer to be married to a non-reader. That way, they can leave their work behind from time to time.

  7. I'm with a non-reader and it works great. My sweetie also takes me out of my reading world and gets me camping, fishing, snowboarding, etc. That is really cool that she has the objective view of a non-reader to bounce her writing ideas off of.

  8. Such a great post! And it shows that opposites do indeed attract. Keith sounds like a really great man and I'm happy that Robin Spano was so lucky to find someone as encouraging as him. Here's to hope for the future that the singles out there (like me) will be just as lucky.

  9. I wish I'd met you guys before! My friends and family love Keith, but they spent ages being confused at how I could overlook this gaping crevasse. But like Kathleen, Chris, Sandy, and Clover must know, that gaping crevasse makes for some great rock climbing.

    It's great to meet you all. Wendy, thanks for giving me this fun topic!

  10. I have been in lots of relationships with non-readers, and it hasn't been all that bad! Nowadays I feel lucky because my husband and kids are readers, but everyone in the house reads such different things, that there is really no way to have a successful book conversation, other than to ask what one of them is reading. I think it's really neat that your husband took the time out to read a bit of your book and give you criticism even though he isn't a reader. This was a great post, so thanks for sharing it!!

  11. Great post, Robin. I understand and relate because my husband is also basically a non-reader who promotes my books and my writing!

    Thank you for sharing,
    Mary Montague Sikes

  12. So funny Robin, my husband doesn't read either. I once tried to read a chapter of my story to him and soon noticed an open mouthed snore. This is no reflection on me, he'd do this with any book. And now I'm friends with Wendy too.
    N. R. Williams, fantasy author

  13. was there ever a time when you thought you might convert keith into a reader?

  14. Ha! Keith is Keith, and that's why I love him.

    The question reminds me of that old saying: Women marry men hoping to change them; men marry women hoping like hell they won't change.

    Nancy - you have to love those snores. They say everything so perfectly, don't they?

  15. I, too, am married to a non-reader. He supports my writing in every way (gave me my first computer as an anniversary gift). I confess, though, that I've always been a little ashamed to admit that I'd married a non-reader and I've kept the fact secret from my writing friends in the same way one might try to hide a drinking problem. I had no idea there were so many other's out there with non-literary spouses. Thanks for opening the flood gates, Robin. I feel like I've found a support group!

  16. i loved your post!
    and i wondered: how did you find the courage and confidence (aside from your husband's support) to keep going when you were doubting yourself? i write too and sometimes feel like throwing it all out the window.
    thanks and congrats on your first publication!!

  17. Erica, I think you've just summarized every writer's biggest block: their own confidence. I think the most important mental shift for me was when I gave myself permission to fail. I thought, well, I'll give this a shot, even though most novels never see print, and if it sells, it sells. It took the pressure off, and oddly I think it improved my chance of success. Let me know if that's not clear; I'd be happy to elaborate.

    Ilonka, I'm just as surprised as you! I thought this would be the confessions of a weirdo (me), not a way to meet others in the same situation!

  18. Great post!
    I can see how a writer being married to a non-reader can be a good thing. The writer can get a break from work that way.

    I'm married to a non-reader also. But he totally supports my book habit :)

  19. Okay, so I didn't marry a complete non-reader, but he's read more books in the 12 years we've been together than he did the rest of his life.

    What I enjoy the most with regards to my writing is that he is my biggest critic. If I can't catch his attention with my writing, then I know I won't grab anyone else's attention. Also, he is great for advice when I am writing scene in male POV.

  20. I might go a little stir crazy if my husband weren't a reader. However, he rarely reads memoir or fiction, the kind of books I write. Rather, he reads non-fiction, informational books, stuff I only read when doing research for something literary. So in some ways, my situation parallels yours, Robin.

    The differences in my husband's reading preferences lead to interesting conversations, which I love. As for my writing: my husband puts up with me reading my work aloud to him, but the reactions I get are not, "Wow, beautiful imagery, honey," or "Love the plot, can't wait to hear more." It's more like, "No, that part's not confusing, but yes you might want more momentum."

    Yet, he reads my blog, comes to my events, cooks dinner so I can keep writing when he gets home, and never complains about my solo research trips. It's almost a perfect situation, although it would be fun to have him read my memoir and say, "Wow, I love a good memoir, and this one changed my life!"

  21. Hi Wendy! Hi Robin! I loved the approach Robin's husband take at reading and then back to his avoid all reading mode once her book's published. I can't help but chuckled but I think it's sweet too. This is a great post. I enjoyed it very much.

  22. i loved the book, think Robin is fantastic AND my boyfriend is most definitely a non-reader who gets me out of my head and into the real world...I love how Robin phrased that! so appropriate and true!!!
    awesome post!


Thank you for taking the time to visit Musings of a Bookish Kitty. Don't be shy! I would love to hear from you. Due to a recent increase in spam, I will be moderating all comments for the foreseeable future. Please be patient with me as it may take a few hours before I am able to approve your comment.