If I’m going to be totally honest, when it comes to finding the perfect Valentine’s Day gift, candy, flowers, and jewelry are seriously over-hyped. (I mean, I love chocolate as much as the next person — but it’s not exactly the most creative gift you could give. Unless it has peanut butter in it. That’s another story.) Admittedly, I’m an unabashed book-lover who never met a holiday not worthy of book-gifting, but if you ask me, you cannot go wrong with giving a little poetry to your loved ones this Valentine’s Day. And I’m not just talking romance here (although, it IS poetry.) The collections on this list will make the perfect gifts for everyone in your life — lovers, soon-to-be ex-lovers, besties, those ride-or-die guys who just get you. Your sister. Your mom. That fur baby who never turns down an opportunity to snuggle. Yourself. Who says Valentine’s Day should only be celebrated by those coupled folks? Love in all forms should be celebrated.
With a little something for everyone — and titles perfect for anyone in your life who might need a little poetic love this year — here are 11 books of poetry to give on Valentine’s Day.
'The Sonnets' by William Shakespeare
Perfect For: the classic romantic.
Another poet you definitely can’t go wrong with this Valentine’s Day is William Shakespeare, and his collection of The Sonnets — 154 in all, covering love and relationships, beauty and intellect, mortality and the passing of time, and more — is the perfect gift for the classic book-loving lover in your life.
'Smoke & Mirrors' by Michael Faudet
Perfect For: spicing things up a little.
Known for some explicitly lusty writing (and a slight preoccupation with short skirts and knee socks) Michael Faudet is an internationally bestselling poet of three collections. His third, Smoke & Mirrors, blends the romantic and the erotic in a way that will definitely spice up your love life — perfect for reading aloud to your love this Valentine’s Day.
'Healing Earthquakes' by Jimmy Santiago Baca
Perfect For: the relationship that’s been a little rocky lately.
Beautiful, heartbreaking, graphic, and raw, Healing Earthquakes by Jimmy Santiago Baca is a novel written in prose poems that will take you through one couple’s whirlwind romance — from their first meeting, through the ways they dazzle and disappoint each other, to the moment they ultimately break each other’s heart.
'The Dream of a Common Language' by Adrienne Rich
Perfect For: your BFF’s Galentine’s Day gift.
Valentine’s Day isn’t just for coupled-up folks these days (thank you, Amy Poehler) and the only thing better than a great Valentine’s Day poetry collecting is a great Galentine’s Day one. Fierce and feminist, The Dream of a Common Language by Adrienne Rich covers everything from forgotten women in history, to same-sex romance, to female connections to the natural world, and more. Your BFF will love it, promise.
'Love is a Dog From Hell' by Charles Bukowski
Perfect For: your best guy friend.
If your ride-or-die happens to be your best guy friend, (and he happens to be in need of a little poetry this Valentine’s Day) Charles Bukowski’s Love is a Dog From Hell is a raw, urgent, snarky collection of poetry directly inspired by the ways Bukowski observed and experienced the world himself, and explores the limitations of love.
'Love & Misadventure' by Lang Leav
Perfect For: your broken-hearted bestie.
A blend of illustration and heartbreaking poetry, Love & Misadventure by Lang Leav is a roller-coaster of an ill-fated romance: one that starts high and comes crashing into heartbreak. Filled with the rawest of loves and losses, this one is perfect for crying all this tears — if that’s your jam this Valentine’s Day.
'So Much Synth' by Brenda Shaughnessy
Perfect For: your sister — or any gal you grew up with.
A fun and feisty mixed-tape of a poetry collection, So Much Synth by Brenda Shaughnessy is an 80s-music-inspired series of reflections on coming-of-age and the pangs of teenage girlhood. It is brave and funny, tender and big-hearted, and the perfect collection to read with your sister — or any gal you grew up alongside.
'Phenomenal Woman: Four Poems Celebrating Women' by Maya Angelou
Perfect For: reminding your Mom you love her this Valentine’s Day.
Phenomenal Woman: Four Poems Celebrating Women by Maya Angelou is a stellar collection of female-forward poetry, perfect for reminding your Mom just how much you love her this Valentine’s Day. Gathering together four of Maya Angelou’s most celebrated poems, Phenomenal Woman recognizes the strength and beauty, wisdom and intuition, fire and joy of being a woman in the world.
'Love Her Wild' by Atticus
Perfect For: buying yourself.
Because the best gifts are often the ones we give ourselves, Love Her Wild by Instagram sensation Atticus is the perfect collection to gift yourself this Valentine’s Day. (Galore magazine also dubbed him “the world’s most tattoo-able” poet, if you’re up for a little ink as well.) This collection is exuberant and beautiful and adventurous and celebratory, and will remind you of all the things that just totally rock about your badass female spirit.