My brother and I are opposites in a lot of ways. He's tall, I'm short. He's footloose, I'm rooted. He's outgoing, I'm shy. Despite all that, we're very similar. We both have blue eyes, we have the same political views, we even have some of the same annoying habits, and we love books. We have inside jokes, we finish each other's sentences, we accept each other because of our differences. Nothing emphasizes this more than our book interests.
A few years ago, around the same time and unknown to each other, we read Into Thin Air and Into the Wild, two books by Jon Krakauer. I loved Into Thin Air because it's about people pushing their limits. When it comes to Mount Everest, I'm happy to be an armchair traveler. I enjoyed Into the Wild but I couldn't identify with the main character. I was constantly tripping over the bad decisions that he made. When I discovered that my brother had read the same books, the conversation went a little like this.
Me: Wasn't Into Thin Air exciting and gripping?The nurture part of this is that my brother and I stumbled across the same books at almost exactly the same time and enjoyed the author's writing style. Why? Who knows, maybe it's because we'd each read A Walk Across America by Peter Jenkins shortly before that and were on a travel writing kick. Growing up, we read a lot of the same books and so that probably influenced our book preference. The nature part of this is how differently we interpreted the same books. I'm happy to live near, work with, and work around other people. For me, Into Thin Air was a book about the disasters that happen when the rules of a society break down. My brother is self-sufficient, intent on the next adventure. He neither needs nor desires society to entertain him. For him, Into the Wild was a book about escaping civilization, about independence and making it on your own.
Brother: Not really. It's about a bunch of people polluting Everest.
Me: Hmm, I guess so. Well, what about Into the Wild? Wasn't that guy silly for heading into the forest all by himself?
Brother: No! That's one of my favorite books ever! It was so cool how he just went off into the Alaskan wilderness by himself! I'd love to do that!
Me, thinking: oh, no, how can I discourage my brother from disappearing into no man's land and slowly starving himself?
I keep those two books on my bookshelf, not side by side but rather separated by a few shelves. It's a reminder of who I am and who my brother is. Best friends with a shared history, separated by time, space, and personalities, but always within reach.