Date Night For A Bibliophile: A Post-Valentine’s Essay

Several months ago, right around Valentine’s Day, I was strolling down Mississippi Avenue in Portland when I came across a used bookstore called Another Read Through. Already excited by the expected scent of yellowing pages and the adorable name, I walked through the door into the tiny shop. While the space was small, it was full; shelves were crammed with books upon books. When my eyes finally adjusted to the overwhelming (in the best kind of way) scene of the store, they landed upon a short shelf right in front of me. Each book spaced out and wrapped in brown paper, a red sign hung from the shelf that read, “This Valentine’s Day, how about going on a blind date with a book?”

I know. Cutest thing you’ve ever heard, right? I had heard about bookstores doing this before, but this is the first one I’d ever seen in person. I crouched down to get eye level with the mysterious objects in front of me and began to read the words written on their would-be covers. Each book had a sentence from the book inside scrawled on the paper. Some had long sentences, full of enticing words and trains of thought. Some were simple and short, including one that just said, “My father had four wives, but still he looked at women.”

I think my favorite thing about going on a blind date with a book is that it eliminates the “judging a book by its cover” reflex we all pretend we don’t have, but totally do. Some of my favorite books are encased in a single color binding with an unassuming font. On the other hand, I have spent many a dollar on a book that completely drew me in with its whimsical cover and font choice, only to discover that the story fell totally flat. Bibliophile blind dates realign our focus on the content of the book and not on the allure of its packaging, which is a very cool concept.

I walked out of the store without purchasing a blind date that day. Many of the books had already been picked up and the ones that were left had descriptions promising murder, mystery, and blood–three things I steer clear of. That being said, I hope the remaining wrapped writings were whisked away by interested readers, and that once the reader got to know the book, he or she found their perfect match.

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