Reading Room Recommends

“Why, what’s the matter,

That you have such a February face,

So full of frost, of storm and cloudiness?”

William Shakespeare, Much Ado About Nothing

February

My Mistress’s Sparrow is Dead by Jeffrey Eugenides (Editor)

This anthology of love stories includes pieces by an array of literary notables. Never trite or tired, Eugenides has selected stories that matter. Romantic tropes and hackneyed language often trivialize love. Not so in this collection. Read it with your bookish Valentine.

The Assignation by Joyce Carol Oates

The Assignation, a 1988 collection of short stories, offers us glimpses of longing. The opening piece, “Flesh,” is just one paragraph long and most of those that follow aren’t much longer. Oates’ lean, sharp prose makes no bones. While the stories are taut with sensual tension, a need for love and acceptance fuels the lust.

Letters of Abelard and Heloise by Peter Bayle

This collection of correspondence between medieval lovers, Héloïse d’Argenteuil (abbess, writer, scholar) and Peter Abelard (philosopher, theologian, logician) isn’t standard Valentine fare. This doomed couple’s romance bloomed in 12th century France and ended in disgrace for both. Heloise bore a son and named him Astralabe. Though she and Abelard were never free to marry, her passionate love letters and his longing replies unite them in eternity.

Valentines by Ted Kooser

These poems are tender and sincere, penned by the Poet Laureate over many years and mailed annually to a long list of Valentines. They feature Kooser’s conversational style, unpretentious and unforced. Short enough to fit on postcards, these gems don’t need many words to describe the many trials of the heart.

Children’s Shelf

Fairy Tales: A Beautiful Collection of Favorite Fairy Tales by Parragon Books (Editor)

A book to share with your little Valentine, Fairy Tales is a bright collection of well-loved stories. Illustrations keep the pages lively and the familiar tales reinforce reading skills while entertaining with stories loved for centuries.

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