As Rebecca Long informs us, online dating has recently taken a literary turn
Perhaps I was a little naïve when I typed the words ‘penguin dating’ into Google. Perhaps I’m not quite as corrupted as I thought. I really just wasn’t prepared for what cropped up in the results list after 0.31 seconds. The internet is a scary place for one who is careless with a Google search. However, after much mental scarring and a little refinement I found what I was looking for: penguindating.co.uk. Where book lovers meet. No really.
Penguin – as in the publishing company, not the biscuits – have teamed up with match.com to in order to fill a gap in the online dating market I wasn’t even aware existed: read dating. This new website, which was launched in September – how it’s taken me so long to find out about it I don’t know – aims to bring the aforementioned book lovers together based on the books they read. Sounds simple I hear you say? Maybe. But when you realise that people like “Electricveg” a 27 year-old from Devon who last read Salmon Fishing in the Yemen’by Paul Torday have clearly latched onto this site as their last hope for matrimonial bliss you might begin to worry.
It’s all about matching people together based on the books they’ve read, operating on the principle that any shared interest is a good one and is bound to lead to at least a little bit of online flirting. So far so good. I mean it’s got to be easier then going by such inconsequential stuff as hair colour, dress size and star signs, right? Penguin invites people to “live their own love story” and find the other half of their dreams – all for only €27.90 a month.
Apparently it’s all about bringing old fashioned romance back into the dating game by encouraging people to write love letters to each other. That’s all well and good but what if you find out the literary man of your dreams has been doing the virtual equivalent of shoving socks down the front of his pants? By which I mean, what if you discover that contrary to his profile he’s actually never read anything by Boris Pasternak much less memorised Dr Zhivago and that he’d really prefer reading Jeremy Clarkson’s latest to discussing the cultural implications of the postmodernism movement with you? There goes foreplay anyway. Clearly not a match made in literary heaven.
But don’t get me wrong, I’m not all that cynical. Of course a shared passion for Tolstoy, Joyce or Zola could prove to be the foundation for a life long romance. And a mutual appreciation for the finer points of Lady Chatterley’s Lover’is sure to whet certain appetites. I mean even a common interest in Harry Potter could be worth a snog. Just don’t be surprised if you end up dating a librarian.