Roses are red, violets are blue… We love books. How ’bout you?
With International Book-Giving Day falling on the same day as Valentine’s Day this year, we thought, what better way to celebrate love than with a book?
So save your pennies and forget the bunch of petrol station flowers – we asked our crack team of library love experts to offer up the books that really turn their pages. Whether you need inspiration for a gift for your one true love, or just fancy cosying up with an oversized box of chocs and a good read all to yourself, we’ve got you covered this Valentine’s Day.
My Valentine’s gift would be Michel Faber’s The Crimson Petal And The White, a Neo-Victorian novel that is factually accurate but thoroughly modern. Like a potty-mouthed Dickens, this tale of upwardly mobile sex worker Sugar is not for the faint of heart, or constitution. This book is crude, candid and very, very explicit.
A book for the ‘non-reader’ in your life to fall in love with. Stories have been told and shared for thousands of years across the world; they bring people together and allow others to live our experiences. This book collates 50 short stories from people with extraordinary tales to tell, from a doctor who was whisked away by nuns to Mother Theresa’s bedside, to a couple who were reunited and found love in the most surprising way. From the very poignant to the utterly bizarre, these stories all share a brutal honesty which is refreshing and inspirational.
My Valentine’s gift would be The Hearts Invisible Furies by John Boyne. It is about a man’s changing experience of being gay across the decades in 21st-century Ireland. These experiences are beautifully expressed through the main character, Cyril Avery, in a heart- felt but pragmatic narrative.
This is one of the books of the year and is a great story told through the lives of people who lived through the Battle of Hue in 1968. The author doesn’t pay dues to the received cultural references of the Vietnam War and the Tet Offensive. Instead we learn about the young men and women who are thrown into the maelstrom of battle by their leaders: the young Vietnamese student who becomes a militia fighter, the Marine journalist who fights and records the grunts in battle, the general obsessed by body counts and underestimating the horrendous consequences of this action. It is a vivid, sensitive and well written epic tale.
Poetry is great to dip into, share with others or linger over alone when a poem strikes a chord. With this collection you can choose poems to learn by heart – so they will always be with you, even when you have returned the book to the library.
This collection of fabulous poems by our own Poet’s Laureate, Carol Ann Duffy, contains her beautifully observed poem, Valentine, which is a slightly less predictable take on a love poem:
Valentine by Carol Ann Duffy
Not a red rose or a satin heart.
I give you an onion.
It is a moon wrapped in brown paper.
It promises light
like the careful undressing of love.
It will blind you with tears
like a lover.
It will make your reflection
a wobbling photo of grief.
I am trying to be truthful.
Not a cute card or a kissogram.
I give you an onion.
Its fierce kiss will stay on your lips,
possessive and faithful
as we are,
for as long as we are.
Its platinum loops shrink to a wedding-ring,
if you like.
Its scent will cling to your fingers,
cling to your knife.
Have you got a recommendation for the perfect Valentine’s book? We’d love to hear it! Just comment below.
You can find out more about libraries in East Sussex by visiting the East Sussex County Council website.