When it comes to Valentine’s Day, sometimes women just have to drop a few hints to help their sweeties kindle a little romance. Though well-intentioned, those boxes of chocolate you received mid-diet and the ill-fitting lingerie didn’t really cut it. If he wants to rack up the romance points this Valentine’s Day, tell him to to take a page from your book club and give you the gift of a literary adventure together: wrap up a book that you both will read with a romantic little note promising a trip related to the book. Now that football season is over, isn’t it time to do something you want to do?
The great thing about this is it means he’s venturing into your territory. But, it might be a little scary for him. You’ve probably noticed that he makes a quick exit to the basement or runs off to the local sports bar whenever the book club meets at your house. He scurries away to avoid all that talking, sharing of feelings, and general estrogen overload. So how can he expose his sensitive literary side without having to turn in his “man card?”
Rest assured, these don’t have to be high-brow or girly outings. The secret is to find a book topic that interests both of you, then think of a place to go where you can experience the subject of the book in person. Books have the power to bring people together over common ideas. When you travel together, even to a destination in your own town, you also bond over new, shared experiences. Literary travel offers the best of both, with a chance for couples to talk, share ideas, and most importantly, laugh together.
Here are a few reading-and-travel pairings to inspire your Valentine getaway:
For Beach Lovers–Read: Skin Tight, Bad Monkey or or any of Carl Hiassen’s zany books about life in southern Florida. If you’re golf lovers, check out Hiaasen’s The Downhill Lie: A Hacker’s Return to a Ruinous Sport, his hilarious commentary on golf. Go: South Beach, Miami, Florida.
For Baseball Fans–Read: Bernard Malmud’s The Natural or Michael Lewis’s Moneyball Go: Take in a spring training game together.
For Music Lovers–Read: Cash: The Autobiography; Blues All Around Me by B.B. King; or Girls Like Us: Carole King, Joni Mitchell, Carly Simon and the Journey of a Generation by Sheila Weller (or a biography of any favorite musician) Go: Mosey down to Austin, Texas. SXSW (South by Southwest) Music, Film and Interactive Festival is March 7-16 this year, but music abounds in Austin any time of year. Be sure to try a little two-steppin’.
For Wine Lovers–Read: M.F.K. Fisher, Musing on Wine and Other Libations Go: Explore the vineyards of California’s Napa and Sonoma counties. For fans of another type of grape, The Grapes of Wrath (which has absolutely nothing to do with wine), take a side trip to the National Steinbeck Center in Salinas.
But lit trips don’t need to be far from home. Here are a few ideas to whip up a little romance with a book-based adventure no matter where you live.
For Art Lovers–Read: Dance Me to the End of Love, a “picture book for adults” that combines the poetry of Leonard Cohen with the art of Henri Matisse. Tres romantic. Go: Visit an art museum. If you live in Minneapolis, the Minneapolis Institute of Art is featuring “Matisse: Masterworks from The Baltimore Museum of Art: February 23-May 18.
For history buffs–Read: Assassination Vacation by Sarah Vowell (or ask a librarian for tips on great books about your local history) Go: Visit a local historical society, battlefield or landmark
For Animal Lovers–Read: Temple Grandin’s Animals Make us Human or Julie Klan’s Love at First Bark: How Saving a Dog Can Sometimes Help You Save Yourself Go: Attend a dog or cat show, or volunteer together at an event for your local humane society or animal rescue group
For the Outdoors–Read: Cheryl Strayed’s memoir, Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail Go: Take a hike
For people who love to cook–Read: My Life in France by Julia Child Go: Take a cooking class
Or wrap up a copy of Off The Beaten Page: The Best Trips for Lit Lovers, Book Clubs and Girls on Getaways with a note promising a trip to any of its 15 U.S. destinations.
Keep in mind, ladies, if he starts to feel a little panicky in this bookish territory, it’s okay for him to fortify himself with a quick dose of sports stats on his phone. Just don’t overdo it.