A Match Made in Paradise: A Bibliophile and Her Favorite Non-Reader

To the husband who loves me despite repeatedly ignoring you for fictional worlds. Read on to see how one bookworm is in bliss with her non-bookish partner.

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My Dearest Sean, the old saying opposites attract couldn’t be more true regarding the universe picking you for me. You’re far more outgoing, willing to make a friend wherever you go, even if only for that short while; you enjoy the outdoors far too much, and you’d rather gnaw your arm off before picking up a book. How those qualities, while slightly annoying, endear you to me rather than turn me away, I’ll never know. But I’m thankful for the opportunity to continue to love you and be loved by you.

For all you romance readers who love a good enemies-to-lovers with a HEA, keep reading. This story has been two decades in the making, and for me, it’s the best story ever told. Let me tell you why this book goblin loves a man who hates to read.

I was a girl, he was a boy…Can I make it any more obvious?

Well, yes, I’m going to have to, as it didn’t start as love at first sight or as star-crossed lovers— though he was plenty handsome. In fact, we were pretty competitive, only exacerbated by the fact that I may have smudged the truth and been crushing on someone else at the time. The white lie ended up working out, so neither of us is mad about it.

A Rocky Beginning

Between my sophomore and junior years of high school, my Army JROTC class went to a week-long boot camp, an event other JROTC programs were also attending. Sean’s school just so happened to be placed with my unit. Unbeknownst to me, my mother told him I would also be attending (they worked together). I might have taken the camp a bit too seriously — hello, overachiever here. The first time I heard him speak was when the sergeant asked for his name a second time as he couldn’t hear what Sean said. This 5’10” broad-shouldered man, fit in camo, amongst a group of 50-plus high schoolers, cocked his hip like a cheerleader, brought his finger to his mouth, and proceeded to say, “Big Sexy,” with a lisp. To say this irked me is a bit of an understatement. Add in that I immediately thought he was batting for the other team; you can see how this was a disaster in the making romantically… at least at that moment.

Later that day, he approached me as I leaned against another boy, flirting like crazy. Sean asked me if my mom was Virginia, who worked at Walmart. My response was to roll my eyes and say, “No, her name is Jenny, and she works at a gas station.” Now, that wasn’t entirely untruthful, but she did go by and work at both. He knew it was me; it couldn’t have been anyone else. I was the only white girl attending from the Cahokia High group, and he had spoken to my mom just before he left. Rather than confront my lie, he simply nodded his head and walked away.

Kristi and Sean at Sean's JROTCH Senior banquet, 2005.
IMAGE VIA KRISTI ESKEW

When you have two competitive people in the same unit a part of differing teams, that makes for one hell of a time. It was fun but also aggravating as we kept one-upping each other. He’s also the Petty King, so since I lied, that made him push harder. It was quite the week at camp.

Fast forward four and a half months, and we met again when I got a job at the same Walmart he and my mom were at. A few conversations, subtle flirting, and maybe a lunch break or two utilized for chatting rather than eating led us to a more friendly relationship. He finally made the move that sealed the rest of forever when a box almost fell on my head, and he — in a very swoonworthy way — stopped said box with one hand and proceeded to check on me while holding it. Searching my eyes intently, he leaned in and kissed me. I’ve been a goner ever since.

He Chose Me in All My Book Dragon Glory

I’ve always been obsessed with books. It’s never something I’ve hidden. In fact, prior to the Kindle app, I would go nowhere without at least a paperback in my purse. I’d read at every opportunity. I would literally walk with my nose in the book everywhere I sent, even if it were only a short distance. This man hasn’t picked up a book since he left school, and even then, I’m pretty sure he skimmed or looked for the answer with trusty Google. Seriously, he hates reading. Even at family events, you’ll find me reading at the table or in the corner, participating in conversation sparingly. That’s why he’s there; he’s the conversationalist.

Kristi being held by her husband on their wedding day, 2007.
IMAGE VIA KRISTI ESKEW

My reading addiction can be a bit annoying, not to me, but definitely to him, which brings out the petty in my King. He’s been trying to trip me up for two decades. Moving my “bookmarks” (more like receipts or business cards) — scrolling through the pages of my Kindle, hiding my books, you name it. It’s a fun game for us both, mostly because he hasn’t won any of these, and we’re both still competitive. Our family game nights are epic. I tend to block out everything when I read as I’m an immersive reader — I don’t see the words, just a movie playing in my head. So he knows he has to say my name or poke me to get my attention. There have been times he’s had an entire conversation with me, and I had no idea, much to his frustration.

Yet, here we are, nineteen and a half years into a lifetime, and neither of us would change a thing. Despite the fact that he will never read, even though I tried to get him to read my favorites so we can talk about them rather than just me animatedly discussing what’s happening as he pretends to understand. And that’s okay, I guess. Whatever. He doesn’t read; I hate to camp. Fair is fair, I suppose.

His Non-Reading Habits Are Beneficial

If we both had the same obsession with books, nothing would ever get done. I’m not saying that I don’t want him to read a little, but even I know we couldn’t have two adults in a home of six who read with the vigor that I do. He is literally the best book spot. There is nothing quite like snuggling against him to read while he’s watching Back to the Future for the 80 millionth time. Were he to be reading too, his hands would be too busy holding his book rather than playing with my hair or holding me. That would just be unacceptable.

He loves to fish, and I absolutely do not; we can still spend the time together, though. I sit closely reading while he wastes time trying to hook some poor, unsuspecting fish. Or when he drags me to a baseball game, knowing I’m going to use the time to read rather than watch what’s happening on the field. It just works for us.

Kristi and her husband at a St. Louis Cardinals game, 2012.
IMAGE VIA KRISTI ESKEW

A House Full of Bookworms

You’re welcome, babe. I created a mini army of word enthusiasts obsessed with books and emotionally attached to fictional characters who also ignore you as they fall into the fictional world of literary geniuses. I’d say I’m sorry, but I haven’t told you a lie since 2004, and I’m not about to start now. On the bright side, it gives you a quiet house — sometimes — and time to spend doing other weird things you enjoy. I think that qualifies as enough of a reason to be okay with our obsession.

Kristi and her family at the park during fall, 2019.
IMAGE VIA KRISTI ESKEW

I’ve not found a better way to tell you about the tattoo I have scrawled on my arm. So, for all to see:

And I’d choose you,
In a thousand lifetimes,
I’d find you, and
I’d choose you.

– Kiersten White

Love you forever and always,
Your, Nose-in-the-Air-Wanna-Be-Army-Girl.


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