My husband wrote an 80-chapter book. Do I have to read it? : Life Kit What's more, the letter writer hates her husband's writing style. Should she bite the bullet and read his novel? Or can she pass? Family therapist Kiaundra Jackson offers her two cents.

Dear Life Kit: My husband wrote an 80-chapter book. Do I have to read it?

Dear Life Kit: My husband wrote an 80-chapter book. Do I have to read it?

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Photo Illustration by Becky Harlan/NPR
Photograph of an open book against a light teal background with hand drawn question marks over the pages. The book is surrounded by a frame made of collaged letters, stamps and envelopes.
Photo Illustration by Becky Harlan/NPR

Need some really good advice? Look no further than Dear Life Kit. In each episode, we pose one of your most pressing questions to an expert. This question was answered by marriage and family therapist Kiaundra Jackson. This conversation has been edited for length and clarity.

Dear Life Kit,

My husband wrote a novel he's publishing this year. It's 80 chapters long. I've tried to read it a bunch of times, but I can't stand his writing style. I know I need to try to find something good to say, and I need advice fast because he's already working on a sequel. — Novel novice

Kiaundra Jackson is a licensed marriage and family therapist. Photograph by Nesha Harris/Collage by NPR hide caption

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Photograph by Nesha Harris/Collage by NPR

I actually have a friend who just wrote a book, but her husband has not read it even though it has been out for months. At first, I thought it was weird. Then I was like, you know what? If it works for their relationship and she's not upset about it, why should other people be?

Relationships are so different and complex, and [how we show support to each other] needs to be defined by both individuals. For some couples that might be "I'm reading all of your books. I'm supporting you in every single way." And for other couples, that might not be the expectation.

Before your husband goes on the journey of [writing the sequel], have a conversation with him about [how much you should be involved in his book process].

If you don't talk about this from the jump, that's when things can be misconstrued. Sometimes hurt is really just an unmet expectation.

As for the current book, it's always an accomplishment to write a book of any sort. Try to read what you can.

Be honest and say, "I would love to be with you on this journey. Unfortunately, your writing style is very different from what I prefer. I'm wondering if there's another way that I can support you?"

Then, try to find a different mode to receive the book. Maybe listening to an audiobook version of it might be more digestible. You can also try [compromising] with your partner. Say: "I may not be able to get through 80 chapters, but I'll try to get through the first 10." And see if there is progress to be made there.

Listen to Kiaundra Jackson's full response in the audio at the top of the page or on Apple Podcasts and Spotify. Have a question for Dear Life Kit? Share it anonymously here.


Dear Life Kit is hosted by Andee Tagle and produced by Beck Harlan, Vanessa Handy and Sylvie Douglis. Bronson Arcuri is the managing producer and Meghan Keane is the supervising editor. Alicia Zheng produces the Dear Life Kit video series for Instagram.

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