Who wouldn't be glad to receive a book on Valentine's Day? The right book says so much that chocolates and roses cannot, whether it's Antony Beevor's Stalingrad or Robert James Waller's The Bridges of Madison County. At the very least, it tells your loved one that time, effort and more than a little thought went into the selection of their gift - and there's always the bonus of being able to nab it back once they've finished reading it.
As personal as book choices are, a few suggestions may not go amiss. Here are three of mine:
A Room with a View by E. M. Forster
When Charlotte Bartlett witnesses a kiss in a field of violets outside of Florence, she fears her cousin and charge, Lucy Honeychurch, is in danger of being wooed by the singular and inappropriate George Emerson. She's right, thank goodness. A hugely satisfying novel about love found, thwarted and reclaimed. Could only be bettered by discovering oneself in an actual room with a view on Valentine's Day.
The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje
As World War II nears its end, a young Canadian nurse tends her badly burned patient in a villa in the Italian countryside. Hana embarks on an affair with Kip, a Sikh sapper in the British Army, while her patient remembers falling in love in the deserts of North Africa. Count Ladislaus de Almásy's tale of passion and loss is as affecting as Ondaatje's beautiful prose.
Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Florentino falls in love with Fermina Daza the moment their eyes first meet and carries on loving her for more than 50 years, unable to forget her in spite of the 622 women he takes to bed while waiting for their reunion. A story in part about love in all its guises, this might be the perfect choice for a day that celebrates love above all else.