The Best Last-Minute Valentine's Day Gift Is A Book, And Here Are 9 Reasons Why

With Valentine’s Day just one short week away, you should already be well on your way to picking out the perfect gift for that special sweetheart in your life (and if you’re not, I promise I won’t tell. But seriously, get on that.) If your sweetie just happens to love books as much as they love you, consider forgoing the standard chocolate, flowers, stuffed teddy bears, and jewelry this year, and instead gift your literature-loving Valentine a book they’ll totally love. Books make the best Valentines, after all.

Don’t believe me? I offer this brief example (assuming all the other reasons below don’t do the trick.) I’ve known my partner for 11 years, and been married for nearly five. In all those years, TONS of presents have come and gone — and I can tell you the location of exactly one of them: it’s a leather, gilt-edged, collectible edition of Pride and Prejudice, printed in 1970, and it’s in my office, in a place of great honor. I honestly couldn’t tell you what half of the other gifts I’ve been given over the years were, or where any of them might be located at this present moment. But that Pride and Prejudice — that gift I’ll never forget.

Check out these nine reasons why books are the best Valentine’s Day gifts to give — and then get shopping! You only have a few days left before it’s time to blow your lover’s mind (and hopefully win their heart) with their next great read.

1It's unexpected.

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Even though anyone who as known me for more than approximately 30 seconds knows I’m an avid book-lover, I’m still always surprised (and, um, THRILLED) when someone gifts me a book. Maybe it’s because gifting a book requires a bit more thought than, say, coffee, chocolate, or flowers, but people don’t give book gifts nearly as often as they should, IMO. Which means the book-lover in your life will probably be totally surprised (and again, THRILLED) when she unwraps your literary package this Valentine’s Day.

2Books don’t wilt, melt, or deflate.

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This one is a no-brainer. Unlike flowers (short-lived, no matter how much magical flower food you feed them,) chocolates (usually even shorter-lived than their floral counterparts, at least in my house,) and balloons (short-lived AND cumbersome,) books last practically forever. Which means every time your Valentine sees that book on her bedside table or favorite shelf, she’ll think of you and your awesome gift-giving skills.

3You can be thoughtful and affordable.

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Not only are books both thoughtful and beautiful — especially with all the new classic and limited editions coming out these days — they are also totally affordable. You can get a decent, nicely-bound hardcover for between $25 and $35, yet nothing about giving the gift of literature says “cheap,” no matter how much that title actually cost. This means you can spring for a gift AND a nice dinner this year.

4Nobody is allergic to books.

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It seems like nearly everybody is allergic to something these days — from nuts and dairy to pollen and precious metals — effectively turning the standard candy/flowers/jewelry Valentine’s Day gifts into small, love-filled death traps. But never in my life have I met anybody allergic to a book.

5It'll demonstrate your awesome listening skills.

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To find a book your Valentine will actually love, you have to be at least vaguely aware of her interests, curiosities, and/or passions. Better yet, maybe you’re familiar with the books that already line her shelves, or have been keeping your ears open for that title she’s dying to add to her TBR pile. Not only does the gift of a book show you’ve been paying attention, your Valentine might even appreciate your impressive listening skills more than the gift itself.

6You’re giving yourself plenty of options.

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Whether you’re picking up that just-released bestseller your Valentine has had her eye on, springing for that illustrated boxed set of her favorite series, or are full-on splurging for that antique first edition she’s always dreamed of owning, there is a vast spectrum of great gift options in the world of books. Keep it thoughtfully casual or totally blow your Valentine’s mind — or something in between.

7Book inscriptions are much more romantic than greeting cards.

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I’ll admit — I am not a big saver of greeting cards. In fact, it’s rare a greeting card spends any more time in my life than what is required to bring it in from the mailbox, read it, and toss it in the recycling bin. But when you give a book lover a book, you can inscribe all those sweet nothings on the inside cover, guaranteeing that she’ll have your words to look back on forever. No pressure.

8Books can help say what you can’t — and they’ll usually say it better.

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There’s a reason that the classic romance novels have stood the test of time — and it’s in part because their writers gave voice to all the feelings that we average folks aren’t as adept at expressing. You can be the Fitzwilliam Darcy to someone’s Elizabeth Bennet this Valentine’s Day, without even having to say a word yourself.

9They’re easy to return, sell, or re-gift.

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Let’s be honest: relationships sometimes go south, no matter how great a Valentine’s Day gift-giver you might be. And while it's hard to return expensive or personalized jewelry, and literally impossible to resell giant heart-holding stuffed animals — meaning that you’ll have to find someplace to store that box of ex-lover flotsam for the rest of your life — there are plenty of places eager to buy your used books. It’s also fairly easy to return and/or re-gift them — just make sure there’s no embarrassing inscription on the inside first.