Books You Definitely Shouldn’t Give to Your Valentine

With Valentine’s Day rapidly approaching, the more bookish among you may be thinking about getting literary gifts for your loved ones. A swell idea, as far as we’re concerned, but be warned — when given as gifts, books can take on special, often unintended meanings, so choose with care. For instance, as much as we love American Psycho, we’d never gift it to someone we were interested in dating. It just kind of sends the wrong message (like, “I’m imagining your death right now”). So, to save you from any possible missteps, we’ve created a guide to what books not to give to your Valentine, whether you’ve been together for three weeks or three years, and offered our suggestions as to what you might slide across the candlelit table instead. Click through to see what we chose, and good luck.

If you’ve been dating 3 weeks…

Don’t Give: The Kama Sutra

We know it seems clever and titillating, and the new Penguin translation has that trendy modern cover going on, but it’s too soon, and it might suggest that true love isn’t on your mind. Or failing that (and depending how fast you’re moving), your new beau might think you’re trying to tell them that they need some new moves. Not a good start, no matter how you slice it.

Instead Give: Pulphead by John Jeremiah Sullivan

It says “I’m smart and interesting” without saying “I’m pretentious,” and (if you’ve read it as well) will give the two of you plenty to talk about in those early-relationship awkward silences. Note: if your new friend isn’t a non-fiction lover, Chad Harbach’s The Art of Fielding will accomplish pretty much the same.