By Alexa Day
Is Valentine’s Day passé?
I myself have grown accustomed to viewing Valentine’s Day as the end of Engagement Ring Season, which began about the time we started to see Christmas decorations. This year, I don’t think I’ve seen quite so many engagement ring commercials, but this is also the year I discovered Roku. I don’t see many commercials at all anymore.
Still, I think the popular stance is that we should all be over Valentine’s Day and its various trappings. Gifts and dinners and luxuriant weekends at the hotel. That’s just for shallow, materialistic people, right? We’re all supposed to be confident enough in our relationships to eschew Valentine’s Day gifts, right?
I hope not. I’m still a firm believer in the Valentine’s Day gift, and I don’t think I’m by myself. Maybe that makes me shallow and materialistic, but you know, before everyone was supposed to be better than gifts, I spent a great deal of time being the bigger person and buying my own flowers. So I guess I just don’t care if I look materialistic these days.
Generally, I appreciate any gift that shows I’m in someone’s thoughts. I do love a bouquet of flowers, and I’m a sucker for those little plush animals. Music boxes, snow globes, all those trinkets delight me equally.
If you really want me to think well of you, though, the way to my heart is paved with burgers, beer, and books. I will, for the time being, sidestep the powerful allure of the handcrafted burger and the tall, frosty beverage beside it. Instead I’ll focus on what makes a good book into a great gift.
I think it is — and should be — daunting to choose a book for any person whose thoughts, opinions, and feelings matter more than most. These guidelines have served me well.
- Sacrifice a tree. In my world, an old-fashioned paper book makes the best gift, and the more frou-frou the book is, the happier I am with it. Even if I’m not going to read it, I’ll find joy in a beautiful dust jacket, gilded pages, and that little ribbon bookmark sewn into the binding. The paper book is an absolute must for Valentine’s Day, a holiday that celebrates the senses. Until I can fondle the Kindle like that, I’ll always be partial to paper.
- Choose your favorite author. The gift of a book from one’s own favorite author is like offering the recipient an intimate part of oneself. It invites the recipient to share an experience that was special to the giver. Closeness like that is hard to come by.
- Choose something daring. Now is not the time to get that hot story everyone’s talking about. Go deep. Somewhere back there is a very pretty little volume of erotic poetry, just right for passing back and forth after dinner and … well … before dessert.
- The inscription is your friend. A few words about what the book means to you, what you hope it will mean to the recipient, or what you hope you will mean to the recipient. An affectionate nickname. The date. An artful inscription cements a place for your gift on the keeper shelf.
My favorites? Well, oddly enough, two of my favorite Valentine’s Day page-turners have come from friends with benefits. One of them gave me a copy of The Game, Neil Strauss’s foray into the world of the pick-up artist. I still consult it quite regularly; being able to recognize pick-up artists is an incredibly valuable skill for single girls. My other buddy gave me a copy of Dating Up, a guide for women looking for quality men. He insisted that it was a gag gift, and maybe it was. But to me, it always felt like recognition of what my dating life was supposed to look like.
One of my exes noticed my Latin lyric poetry books from high school and gave me Ovid’s The Art of Love, which is pure, racy fun. Another gave me that book of erotic poetry I mentioned just above, a plump purple book with gilded pages and a little ribbon bookmark.
I’ve been fortunate to have such literate valentines! I look forward to the continuation of that trend. I can’t wait to hear about the sexy little secrets on your shelves! Now’s the time to tell all.
And follow Lady Smut. We’ll keep you turning pages into the wee hours.