Sexy Books, Unsexy Books: A Valentine's Day Slideshow
Have you ever fallen in (or out) of love with someone because of (or through) a book?
That's the question I've been putting to book-browsers and sellers peopling the bookstores of the Bay Area. At Books Inc. I talked to a woman who told me about the books she and her husband had read out loud together, and at a bar I heard how a book replete with sexual adventure inspired a retreat from a too-safe relationship. Another book taught another gentleman to be wary of an unhinged girlfriend claiming pregnancy. Inevitably in these conversations, the question always turns back to me.
I fell in love while reading Hemingway out loud with my partner. Later I became engaged to him because of Kafka's Letters to Felice. It's a volume of Kafka's letters to his once-upon-a-time fiancée (whom he vehemently seduced and then just as vehemently repelled, first by sending over-zealous love letters and then ardent essays detailing all the ways in which he, Franz Kafka, left much to be desired). It's a body of work more substantial than anything he's ever written, and it just boggles the mind.
I looked for a copy of the book for years when one day in Chicago at Quimby's Bookstore, I found it. The problem was that my partner, equally fanatic about Kafka, found it too. There was a stare-down in that small aisle on the second floor of Quimby's. At length we broke our silence and argued over who should buy the volume. Who liked Kafka more? Finally, at a standstill, I said, "Listen, I'll buy the book, but I want you to know that from now on I want my books to be your books." He was taken aback. Surely he was thinking of all the ways in which I had been overprotective of my collection -- refusing flatly at times to even let him borrow a book.
"Are you proposing to me?" he asked. I considered what I could possibly mean by offering him ownership of my personal library and then, in disbelief of what I was about to do, I nodded, "Yes," I said. "I suppose I am."
I do have a literary break-up story, but it wasn't a book that turned me away from a person -- it was the other way around. A boy once asked me out by giving me a Basquiat biography. Our first kiss was oddly unappetizing. We awkwardly said goodbye and then avoided each other for days until I finally broke things off. Since then, every time I see a Basquiat-anything I remember that very bad kiss (sorry, I hope you never read this) and run the other way.
Please send us your photos (love/break-up stories voluntary) and in the meantime, feast your eyes on this (highly biased) collection of love and break-up books. (Press fullscreen and 'show info' to see which is which.):
More on Literature
Noise Pop | May 24, 2013
Listen to the newest Noise Pop picks for you and your partner's listening pleasure, featuring Liars, Future Islands, Beach House, Jessie Ware, and The Weeknd. Note: this episode contains adult language and situations.
NPR Film | May 24, 2013
The indie darling returns in a winning collaboration with Noah Baumbach that tracks her developmentally arrested dancer heroine through the transition from protracted adolescence to reluctant adulthood. (Recommended) By Ella Taylor
NPR Film | May 24, 2013
Fast 6 pits Dominic's crew against a wily terrorist in a high-tech battle royale -- but it has a devil of a time explaining why everyone should hop into their cars. By Scott Tobias
The Do List | May 23, 2013
Suzie Racho and David Wiegand scout the Bay Area for things to do this coming weekend and turn up Puerto Rican flavor, a pair of poets, and much more!
Art Review | May 23, 2013
CCA's 2013 MFA show brings 75 artists together in a massive show of works spanning the range from delicate gestures to post-apocalyptic installations. By Mark Taylor
Can you imagine your own superhero? That's the question author and illustrator Jarrett Krosoczka posed to kids on a recent afternoon at a school in Washington, D.C. Krosoczka also described how he overcame a difficult childhood to become the author of the beloved Lunch Lady series.
After years trying to conceive, novelist Jennifer Gilmore and her husband decided to adopt. What they thought would be a relatively simple process was instead a long and painful one. In her latest novel, Gilmore channels these autobiographical experiences into fiction.
On an icy night in 1984, a commuter plane crashed in the wilderness. Six passengers died, but four survived: the pilot, a politician, a policeman and a prisoner. Carol Shaben's Into the Abyss describes their fight to make it through that frigid night alive.
Jackson is famous for his philosophical take on basketball and for the many stars he led to championship triumphs. He taught his players yoga and gave them assigned reading — but also pushed them to intensely practice fundamental skills. His new book looks back on a legendary coaching career.
Also on KQED.org this week ...
We Need You!
Volunteer during our current on-air radio fundraising drive. It's a great way to support KQED Radio with your time. You can really make a difference!
Enter the New "ImageMakers" Screening Room
Enjoy films from present and past seasons of KQED's short independent film series, divided into Animation, Comedy, Drama, and Suspense.