To Fall in Love with a Reader, Do This

April 8, 2015 | 4 2 min read

Several months ago, The New York Times published an essay about a 36-question interview devised to make strangers fall in love. The questions presented here are designed with a more modest goal: to have an interesting conversation about books. But, be warned: if you talk about literature with someone for two hours, there’s a chance you’ll become a lot closer.

Part 1.
1. What was your favorite book as a child?

2. What’s the last really good book you read?

3. Do you prefer fiction or nonfiction? Why?

4. Do you finish every book that you start? If you don’t, how do you decide when to stop reading?

5. List your 10 favorite books in four minutes or less. Write it down because you’ll revisit it at the end.

6. Do you reread books? Which ones?

7. Do you read poetry? Why or why not?

8. Do you remember the first “grown-up” book you read?

9. Are there any authors whose work you have read completely?

10. How often do you read books that are more than 100 years old?

11. Is there a type (or types) of book you never read?

12. How do you choose what to read?

Part 2.
13. What’s more important to you: the way a book is written, or what the book is about?

14. What author, living or dead, would you most like to have dinner with?

15. If you could hang out with a literary character for the day, who would it be?

16. If you could be a literary character, who would it be?

17. Have you ever written a fan letter to an author?

18. Is there any book that, if I professed to love it, you would be turned off? Is there any book that would impress you in particular?

19. Is there a book you feel embarrassed about liking?

20. Are there books you feel proud of liking or having finished?

21. Have you ever lied about having read a book?

22. Do you keep track of the books you read?

23. How do you form opinions about what you read?

24. What authors do you think are overrated? Underrated?

Part 3.
25. Do you ever read self-help books?

26. What’s a book that shocked you?

27. If you could force every person you know to read one book, what would it be?

28. What book would you recommend to me in particular?

29. What books/authors have you been meaning to read for years? Why haven’t you read them yet?

30. What kind of book do you consider “a guilty pleasure?”

31. Has a book ever changed your mind about something?

32. If you were terminally ill, what book or books would you read?

33. Do you have any passages of poetry or prose committed to memory? Can you recite something to me?

34. If you could change anything about the way you read, what would it be?

35. Was there any time in your life when you felt as if a book guided you in a profound way?

36. Return to the list you made at the beginning. What titles, if any, would you change after our conversation?

Image Credit: Flickr/schnappischnap

is a staff writer for The Millions and the author of Home Field. Her short stories have appeared in The Southern Review, The North American Review, The Chattahoochee Review, and Visions, among others. She writes about movies on her blog, Thelma and Alice and Read more at or sign up for her newsletter here.