So Valentine's Day is coming up and there's nothing we can do to stop it (trust me, I've tried). Whether you have a long time S.O., some kind of nebulous non-relationship, or even just a best friend who you're secretly in love with, Valentine's Day is a wonderfully tacky excuse to spend time with the people you like. This year, go for something a little more exciting than dinner reservations or a candle stuck in a wine bottle. Here are a few date ideas straight from your favorite literary crushes, for a unique, book nerd approved Valentine's Day.
I mean, look, you can't actually go on a date with Mr. Darcy or Gilbert Blythe. The technology just isn't there yet. But you can go on a date inspired by the hunkiest dudes and ladies from literature. And then you can imagine that your unsuspecting partner is actually a socially awkward English bachelor in possession of a good fortune, instead of a mere human (You might want to ask for permission before you start calling your partner by a different name, though). So spice up your relationship or confuse your newest Tinder match with one of these fun, cheap date ideas straight out of your bookshelf:
1Mr Darcy: Ballroom dancing
Well, naturally. Sign up for a ballroom dancing class together, or watch some how-to Youtube videos at home, then dress up all fancy and head out to your local ballroom dancing social (yes, ballroom dancing socials are a thing that exist). You'll be just as awkward and socially repressed as Mr. Darcy as you waltz around the room.
2Edward Cullen: Picnic in a field
Look, I know there are a lot of Twilight haters in this world... and to be honest, I'm one of them. It's not exactly a book that models healthy relationships, you guys. But I'm not here to shame anyone for their childhood book crush, so pack up a picnic lunch and head to a field for a romantic afternoon (or spread out a picnic blanket in your living room, weather permitting). Dust yourself with glitter from head to toe for authenticity.
3Hermione Granger: Check out the indie bookstore
Who doesn't love Hermione? She reads voraciously, and if you cross her she'll punch you right in the face (or keep you trapped in a jar as a beetle). Channel your inner know-it-all, and check out the events at your local indie bookstore. Hermione would definitely approve of a date at a book reading, or a social justice themed open mic.
4Jay Gatsby: A '20s-style speakeasy
If you like party boys who also represent the folly of the American dream, take your date out to a 1920's style speakeasy in the name of the Great Gatsby. If there aren't any modern speakeasies in your area, try swing dancing lesson, or just dress up in your flapper best and make some '20s inspired cocktails at home. As long as it's over-the-top, Gatsby would approve.
5Sherlock Holmes: Escape the room
If you like your men wickedly intelligent and... kind of mean, I guess, then go for a date inspired by Sherlock Holmes. Book a session at a real-life Escape the Room game, where you must puzzle your way out of a locked room in a certain amount of time. Or, for a far cheaper date, hide each other's Valentine's Day gifts somewhere, and leave each other clues to their secret location.
6Heathcliff: A hike in the rain
If you're more of a Wuthering Heights kind of person, you're going to want to take your date for a hike on the windswept moors. If you don't happen to live near a windswept more, however, any local hiking trail will do (preferably in bad weather). Go full Heathcliff and have a bad attitude the whole time, for extra flavor.
7Daenerys Targaryen: Do a public service together (or conquer a small country)
Who isn't in love with the beautiful Mother of Dragons? The real Daenerys-based date would involve riding a dragon or taking over a city, for sure. But when she's not in her fire-and-blood conquering mode, Daenerys is always trying to help and protect her citizens (with uneven success). Channel Dany's good side, and sign up for a volunteering shift together, make a donation to a food bank, or spend a day cleaning up your local park.
8Gilbert Blythe: Trivia night
Do I personally get the whole Gilbert Blythe thing? ...eh. But a lot of people were in love with Anne's beau from Anne of Green Gables. And Gilbert and Anne have a famous academic rivalry. Honor their whole love-hate thing by trying to best each other at a trivia night, either at a bar or over a board game at home.
9Augustus Waters: A spontaneous weekend trip
When it comes to literary crushes, it's hard to top Augustus Waters from The Fault in Our Stars: he's tragic, he's pretentious, and he totally takes his girlfriend to Amsterdam. So I'm not saying that you have to take your S.O. all the way to Amsterdam... but a romantic weekend trip together (or even a romantic staycation) can make for the perfect low-stress Valentine's Day. And if you do go to Amsterdam, please don't actually kiss in the Anne Frank house... that's not cute in real life.
10Peeta Mellark: Baking
Oh, Peeta. So adorable. So totally wrong for Katniss in every way. But since everyone else from The Hunger Games is pretty much a creep and/or dead, Peeta seems to be a popular crush. Try a new baking recipe together, or sample your local bakeries for the sweetest Valentine's Day ever (or, you know, fight each other to the death on a reality TV show or something).