Write Stuff – Romancing the Tome

Smiling, cherubic Cupid, that traditional symbol of Valentine’s Day, is always pictured holding his bow and arrow. And more often than not, he manages to find his mark. But if Cupid wants to improve his aim, he’d be wise to start carrying a book. Because if there’s one scene that says hearts and flowers these days, It’s the book scene’specifically, your local library.

It shouldn’t come as a surprise, really, that book lovers are a romantic lot. After all, centuries of readers have indulged in some of the most romantic tales ever told by way of the page. Wuthering Heights, The English Patient, Gone with the Wind, Outlander: enduring love stories, each and every one, and those four titles barely scratch the surface.

So where are lovers of literature finding love in real life? Look no further than the library, where speed reading’s given way to speed dating.

The Vancouver Public Library’s central branch first gave the idea a try in February 2012, after hearing about a similar event in San Francisco. The name for the Vancouver event? Read Dating, of course.

As this Globe and Mail article reports, literary singles moved ?around the room, spending four minutes each with about 20 others, all armed with a favourite book.? To allow a greater degree of privacy, participants could choose to go by the name of a favourite literary character. The books are a great conversation starter, and their genres and titles can also be a way for their owners to say a lot about themselves before saying a word to potential dates.

The idea of read-dating has become something of an international hit. Back in 2006, The Independent reported on a library in Belgium that had started ?bib-dating? events (That’s the Dutch term for library dating). In keeping with the literary focus, participants could let someone know they were interested by writing a note ?to be placed in the book of the person they would like to meet again.?

Closer to home, Toronto, Saskatoon, and Halifax are among the Canadian cities whose libraries have tried blending passion and pages. There are read-dating events specifically for the LGBTQ community too, and several dating websites that cater strictly to book lovers. One of them, a UK site called Book Lover Dating, quotes Dawn Adams on its homepage: ?Show me the books he loves and I shall know the man far better than through mortal friends.?

Clearly, book lovers have a soft spot for romance, and the best part is that you don’t have to wait until next Valentine’s Day to get your fill: It’s right there waiting, between the pages.

S.D. Livingston is the author of several books, including the new suspense novel Kings of Providence. Visit her website for information on her writing (and for more musings on the literary world!).

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