Bookentine's Day: A Celebration for the Rest of Us

Valentine's Day, Feb. 14, is firmly associated in the public mind with romantic love. Not all of us have or want romantic love, and those who do may not wish to participate in a commercial and somewhat forced expression of that love. Yet February needs all the happiness it can get. Thus, a modest proposal: Let's use Feb. 14 to celebrate our friends, particularly the single ones, and spread the joy of books. 

How to Participate

  • Choose five friends.
  • Get them each a book. 
  • Give them the books on Feb. 14 with the message "Happy Bookentine's Day!"
  • Put Bookentine's Day on your calendar for next year!

Frequently Asked Questions

Do I need to spend a lot? 
No! Bookentine's Day books can be from the dollar bin at the used bookstore, or even (if you can manage it without giving offense) regifted from your own collection.

What kind of books should I give?
You know your friends better than we do! Choose something that reflects your knowledge of the recipient, something that will bring joy to that person. Generally, we suggest fiction, preferably absorbing stories that transport the reader to another world. Stay away from self-help (the idea is NOT to imply that single people have something wrong with them) or anything too depressing.

 Where do I get books?
There are, of course, many places to buy books, but the official policy of Bookentine's Day is to shop at your independent local bookstore.

I have more than five friends. How do I choose who gets books?
You may, of course, give more than five – the number is suggested as a way to keep this manageable. When choosing recipients, think particularly of your friends who are single or otherwise might feel excluded from the popular Valentine's spirit.

I got a Bookentine's Day book. What does it mean?
You've been chosen as someone who is worthy of the best gift ever – a book! Thank the giver, read and enjoy your book, then put Bookentine's Day on your calendar for next year!

I gave someone a Bookentine's Day book but didn't get one back.

That's OK! Take pleasure in the joy you gave.

I got a Bookentine's Day book from someone but I didn't get them one.
That's OK! Bookentine's Day is not about guilt or obligation -- it's about making the world a little bit better (and better-read). Don't feel like you have to do anything in return, but let the gift inspire you to do something kind or generous.

Are you the first person to use the name "Bookentine"?
Nope! After I created this, I discovered that two Australian bloggers, Michelle and Ely, at Tea and Titles have been using the name since 2015 for a weeklong February YA readathon. Check it out, it's pretty cool.

I love giving books! Got any other ideas?
Why yes! 
First Book is a nonprofit dedicated to putting books in the hands of disadvantaged kids.
Books for Africa supplies books in places where they are hard to find.
Your local public library needs your support – donations of money or books, and also your advocacy for a strong and accessible library system in your community.