Lit­er­ally soul­mates

Dat­ing site gives book lovers a chance to find their lit­er­ary mates.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - LIFESTYLE - By JOSEPH FREE­MAN

EMMA Kry­gowski of Cas­sel­berry can think of a few rea­sons her last re­la­tion­ship didn’t work out, but one of them trumps the rest: “The guy didn’t read at all.”

That com­plaint makes sense when you con­sider Kry­gowski’s pas­sion for the printed word. Af­ter work­ing at an Or­lando fi­nan­cial ser­vices com­pany each day, she re­turns to her apart­ment and more than 400 books, ar­ranged spine to spine across tall shelves.

They take up her time as well as space. Lev Gross­man’s novel, The Ma­gi­cians, was so en­gross­ing that Kry­gowski re-read it twice this year.

Kry­gowski, 26, who ma­jored in English at the Uni­ver­sity of Cen­tral Florida, is one of many bi­b­lio­philes who signed up for Alike­wise.com, a rel­a­tively new dat­ing site tar­get­ing her kind.

“I’ve never done on­line dat­ing be­fore. I’ve al­ways been op­posed to it be­cause it seems so forced, but I found the con­cept kind of cool,” she said.

The site is just start­ing to catch on in Cen­tral Florida, where a cou­ple dozen users have signed up. That might ex­plain why Kry­gowski has had only two peo­ple con­tact her, one of whom was a re­porter for this story.

“The only other mes­sage I’ve got­ten is from a 40-year-old man who lives in Hong Kong.”

On the In­ter­net, ro­man­tic com­pat­i­bil­ity seems eas­ier to find than a deal on a do­mes­tic flight. Find­ing your lit­er­ary mate is just the lat­est ad­di­tion to the ev­er­ex­pand­ing world of niche match­mak­ing sites.

An­i­mal own­ers in search of love get datemypet.com. Afraid your inky body­work is a turnoff? Not on tat­tooeds­in­gles.com. And the URL says it all at wom­en­be­hind­bars.com.

Matt Sher­man, 41, and long­time friend Matt Masina, 36, both of New York, launched Alike­wise. com in late July, and it’s now ap­proach­ing 4,000 mem­bers. Most are in New York, but there are clus­ters in other US cities, and read­ers are trick­ling in from New Zealand, Ger­many, China and Latin Amer­i­can lo­cales.

The site has been fea­tured in a num­ber of pub­li­ca­tions, in­clud­ing The New Re­pub­lic mag­a­zine, Canada’s Na­tional Post, the pop­u­lar women’s web­site Jezebel and lit­er­ary site The Best Damn Cre­ative Writ­ing Blog.

Alike­wise.com is easy to use. En­ter a beloved book or author in the search area on the left side of the page, and sug­ges­tions for soul mates load on the right. You have to cre­ate a pro­file to con­tact some­one.

Sher­man said in an e-mail that so far, user book choices are “quite mixed”.

“A lot of (author) Mi­lan Kun­dera lately, (A) Con­fed­er­acy Of Dunces is pop­u­lar, too. Our cus­tomers’ choices don’t track the best­seller lists too closely, which im­plies that peo­ple are fo­cus­ing on their most im­por­tant books, in­stead of sim­ply what they’ve read lately.”

At­las Shrugged author Ayn Rand ap­pears fre­quently, but that shouldn’t be a sur­prise, con­sid­er­ing that a dat­ing site for Rand lovers called the­at­la­s­phere.com has some 12,000 pro­files.

Sher­man was com­ing off a breakup when he came up with the idea for the book-lovers site. Im­mersed in The Black Swan, by Nas­sim Ni­cholas Taleb, it hit him that he would re­ally like to meet some­one else who couldn’t stop think­ing about Taleb’s book. They would have com­mon ground right off the bat.

He spoke with Masina, who com­pletely iden­ti­fied.

“You go on a date. There’s al­ways that first time when you go up to the per­son’s house. ... I al­ways grav­i­tate to­ward their bookshelf,” Masina said. “There are times there when I see all self-help books like He’s Just Not That Into You. And I think, I’m prob­a­bly not the first guy sit­ting here look­ing at this bookshelf.”

Kin­dling a ro­mance?

But just scru­ti­n­is­ing book­shelves may not pro­vide a clear per­son­al­ity blue­print. Many read­ers are om­niv­o­rous con­sumers of books, jump­ing from genre to genre and dis­cov­er­ing new favourites all the time.

Megan Was­nechek, 28, who lives in Or­lando and works in film pro­duc­tion, fits that de­scrip­tion. She signed up on Alike­wise.com a few weeks ago and is mainly in­ter­ested in meet­ing some­one who shares the same pas­sion for read­ing.

“Some­one who is open to dif­fer­ent kinds of books, some­one who likes Jane Austen. I don’t know. Peo­ple who like to read tend to be more open to things in life ... be more cu­ri­ous about life in gen­eral,” said Was­nechek. The same taste in books isn’t all that im­por­tant to her.

And that brings up an im­por­tant ques­tion about Alike­wise. com: If you can’t judge books by their cov­ers, can you judge peo­ple by their books?

Af­ter all, Romeo and Juliet met at a party, not the Verona Pub­lic Li­brary. – The Or­lando Sen­tinel/ McClatchy-Tribune In­for­ma­tion Ser­vices

A com­mon love: Emma Kry­gowski

re­cently joined Alike­wise.com, an In­ter­net dat­ing site that matches peo­ple

based on their read­ing pref­er­ences.

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