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Books for Valentine’s Day

Molly Young is on leave for the next several months. In her absence, colleagues from the Book Review will pick up the recommendation torch and appear in your inbox every two Saturdays. As a child, I always liked Valentine’s Day. My mom would leave a valentine by our cereal bowls, and sometimes Andy’s little heart can. I would spend weeks making cards for everyone in my class, ensuring not to leave anyone out and trying to tailor each to the recipient’s tastes. In fourth grade, though, several hours after leaving an offering on each desk, I glanced in the brown plastic wastebasket near the spider plant, and what should I see? One of my handcrafted valentines crumpled and rejected. I didn’t particularly care what this person thought. He had recently asked teachers to address him as “the Diceman.” In fact, his card had been one of the shoddiest: an image of a gentleman lolling in a hammock clipped from Victoria magazine and glued onto a doily. But it was the first taste of the defiant shame of adolescence, and it was bitter. Books are a safer bet. There are, of course, romantic books — Nikki Giovanni’s “Love Poems,” “ Love in the Time of Cholera,” “ Under the Udala Trees ” — and personal choices, in-jokes, and might-be jokes. But for my money, you can’t go wrong with a genre that might […] “Lezende jongen,” by Frans Hals

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