Valentine’s Day is upon us, people. If you’ve arrived here looking for a gift, it’s probably safe to say that you have a reader in your life. Whether it’s a romantic relationship, or they’re your Palentine or Galentine, here’s a list of gift ideas for the reader who is dear to your heart.
To give the gift that keeps on giving:
From Nikki, “As a book lover, I want a Valentine’s Day gift that keeps on giving me bookgasms throughout the whole year. When I received Book Riot’s first Quarterly shipment earlier this month, I sighed. I squeed. I danced a bit. Bookgasms indeed. (Full disclosure, I write over at Food Riot, but I ain’t getting any money for the Quarterly shipments.)”
Tony suggested another subscription that would tickle his fancy: “The perfect Valentine’s gift for me would be to get lucky. However, as a reader and a lover of trivia, I would certainly be grateful for a subscription to mental_floss. I know, I know. In this day and age of blogs and reading off the internet, why a print magazine? Especially when they have a blog and website? The magazine typically has more in-depth material, and if you are reading one of the articles online, it is usually an abridged version of the one they put in the magazine.”
Other subscription ideas: Angry Robot ebooks for the genre-lover; Lucky Peach for the food-lover; McSweeney’s Quarterly for the person who loves high-quality off-beat works; The Paris Review for the more traditional reader; a few months free of Oyster Books for the voracious e-book reader with an Apple device. (Uh, since Oyster is an ongoing Netflix-esque subscription, you may want to include the end-date in a fancy card or something to avoid confusion later.)
To give the gift of life-long memories:
Nerija says, “For a unique Valentine’s dinner, take your sweetheart to a literary cafe or restaurant. The Literary Tourist lists places around the world, from El Gran Cafe Tortoni in Buenos Aires, to the Steinbeck House in Salinas, CA.
“And for those seeking a romantic getaway, the website also lists a number of literary hotels. There’s the Sylvia Beach Hotel in Nye Beach, OR, for instance; its rooms are themed around authors from Twain to Tolkien, Austen to Rowling, Dr. Seuss to Agatha Christie. This place is for the hardcore reader — no TV, radio, room phones, or wi-fi to distract from the written word. Or there’s New York’s Library Hotel, whose rooms are numbered and themed by the Dewey Decimal System — room 500.006 is Astronomy; 400.006 is Ancient Languages; 800.005 is Fairy Tales…and each includes a bookshelf full of titles on that subject, for you and your bookish beloved to curl up with at night (What? Wasn’t that your first thought for fun Valentine’s night activities?).”
Not feeling dinner or a trip? You can use the Literary Tourist site to find bookstores, historic sites, events, and even small presses in your area.
For gifts that don’t need to be read:
Meghan says, “Instead of real flowers, why not buy her these roses made from dictionary pages? They’ll last much longer and they’re adorably bookish. I have a vase of these at home (bought them for mySELF, thank you) and they’re the cutest. This seller has several different varieties.”
From Tess: “I am a massive fan of art or quotes printed on old dictionary pages and sheet music. I’ve got several of these babies in gorgeous frames and if you don’t love the shabby-chic antique-y style then I do not understand you. Gimme one of these and there is a higher percentage that I’ll let you be my Valentine.”
Nerija wouldn’t toss her Valentine out of bed if she unwrapped these Holmes & Watson earrings from the Literary Gift Company; that site has a ton of literary-themed gifts to peruse if you’re out of inspiration. (Shameless self-plug, I also have exactly one pair of Emily Dickinson earrings left in my own Etsy shop.) For gents, how about these typewriter key cufflinks?
Paddywax candles carries a library-themed collection of candles and fragrance diffusers on their site. Oscar Wilde, Edgar Allan Poe, and Jane Austen are a few of the authors around whom they have created signature scents. Or, if you prefer straight-up book smell, there’s a candle that smells like books from Assouline and a fragrance called Paperback from the Demeter Fragrance Library.
To give an edible Valentine’s Day gift:
The Literary Gift Company has an assortment of Quotable Chocolate Bars that might be a welcome break from the mystery assortments in the big red box. (Which, let’s be real–we’ll still all be eating those when they’re 75% off.)
If chocolate isn’t your Valentine’s thang, perhaps a cup of tea would hit the spot? Bag Ladies Tea has a collection called Novel Teas, which are filled with English Breakfast tea and have literary quotes on the tags. Head over to Book Riot for a list of literary mugs that might go with your tea.
For the Valentine who does not necessarily have a love of Valentine’s Day:
Jericha says, “I don’t mind the idea of a day dedicated to love – it’s the unbearable kitsch of Valentine’s Day that gets to me. The Portable Dorothy Parker is a marvelous antidote to all things sappy and sugarcoated, and it’s thick enough to last you through a whole week’s worth of discount chocolates. If you or your beloved is one part curmudgeon and one part classy broad, forget the flowers and pick up this brilliant, acerbic mix of theater and literary criticism, stories, and poetry from the heyday of The New Yorker.”
Kate hearkens back to the roots of St. Valentine: “I kind of hate Valentine’s day a whole lot, except when I remember that St. Valentine was the patron saint of beekeeping long before Hallmark and the floral industry turned his feast day into Give Your Partner In Boink A Really Sappy Gift Or Say Hi To Rosy Day. So, I choose to commemorate it with The Queen Must Die: And Other Affairs of Bees and Men, a classic collection of seasonal observations on the hive and the keeper by William Longgood. Or, if your sweetie already has that because you’ve made it through one Valentine’s Day already and they haven’t swatted you away, try Hannah Nordhaus’ The Beekeepers’ Lament: How One Man and Half a Billion Bees Help Feed America (especially recommended if you’ve got a Michael Pollan fan on your hands). Maybe accompany your gift with a nice bottle of mead. Why not.”
If you’re still stumped after all of this, I don’t know if we can help you. But some of our beloved readers might be able to–what gifts would you love to get on Valentine’s Day?
Just a note: if anybody wants to make a serious declaration of Valentine’s Day love to yours truly, you could get me this 1931 Underwood typewriter like the one Kerouac used. I’d like it in orange. Don’t worry, it’s only $625–wait, where are you going??