As Valentine’s Day approaches, lovers try to find a way to express their feelings for each other by sending Valentine’s cards, presenting flowers, or offering confections. If you want to be unique this year, why not give a book as a gift? Below are some book suggestions for your loved ones – be it a friend, family member, boyfriend/girlfriend or YOURSELF – for this upcoming Valentine’s Day.
YOURS EVER by Thomas Mallon
What’s more romantic than receiving a hand-written letter, especially a love letter? Why, in the age of email, do we still feel the need to write letters? Yours Ever will remind readers of the pleasures found in letters, even the ones not addressed to you.
Skip to chapter five and you’ll find an entire section on love letters. Perhaps this will inspire your loved one to put his/her feelings for you into written words, and if that’s not possible or likely, Mallon writes about an escritorio publico, a professional “letter writer,” whose job it is to express sentiments on paper—feelings the sender is incapable of scribbling him/herself.
Order your copy
THE LOCUST AND THE BIRD by Hanan al-Shaykh
In search of a gift for your mother or girlfriend? Look no further. Hanan al-Shaykh, known as “one of the most daring female writers of the Middle East,” has written an extraordinary tale of undying love. Recreating the dramatic life of her mother, Kamila, Shaykh describes Kamila’s forced marriage at the age of thirteen to a much older man (despite the fact that she was in love with a young man named Mohammed), the scandalous affair she continued during that marriage, and of the shame she brings to her family by divorcing. While Shaykh has written a beautiful account of her mother’s life, the core of the story is the passion between Kamila and Mohammed and of the risks she takes for love.
A PIGEON AND A BOY by Meir Shalev
From the internationally acclaimed Israeli writer Meir Shalev comes a mesmerizing novel of two love stories, separated by half a century but connected by one enchanting act of devotion.
A Pigeon and a Boy is the profound and lively story of lovers then and now, about how deeply we love, what home is, and what it all comes to in the end. Meir Shalev tells a story as intimate as a winged declaration of love.
CHICKEN WITH PLUMS by Marjane Satrapi
Perhaps you feel a different kind of love this Valentine’s Day. Perhaps the love of an object? You are not alone. The main character of Marjane Satrapi’s Chicken with Plums, Nasser Ali Khan, is a celebrated Iranian musician who gives up his life for music and love.
The poignant story of one man, Chicken with Plums is also stunningly universal—a luminous tale of love, life, and death, and the courage and passion they require of us.
LA’S ORCHESTRA SAVES THE WORLD by Alexander McCall Smith
Perhaps you’re recovering from a shattered relationship and need a pick-me-up? We have the perfect remedy. From the best-selling author of The No.1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series comes La’s Orchestra Saves the World, a delightful and moving story that celebrates the healing powers of love, friendship, and music.
With his all-embracing empathy and his gentle sense of humor, Alexander McCall Smith makes of La’s life—and love—a tale to enjoy and cherish.
THE BOOK OF NEW ISRAELI FOOD by Janna Gur
Need a recipe for a romantic Valentine’s dessert to cook for your loved one? Look no further than Janna Gur’s stunning Book of New Israeli Food, which is at once a coffee-table book and a complete cookbook.
For a treat that will end the night right, try out the ISRAELI CHEESECAKE recipe – one of the most popular and easy to make. This cake is prepared with gvina levana, soft low-fat white cheese, but if unavailable you can use cream cheese.
And make sure to order your copy!
Ingredients (for a 20×20 cm / 8×11 inch rectangular baking dish):
The Crust and Topping:
200 g (7 oz, 1 2/3 cups) crumbled petit-beurre cookies
120 g (4 oz) melted butter
25 g (1 oz, 2 tablespoons) sugar
200 g (7 oz) butter
200 g (7 oz, 1 cup) sugar
1 egg yolk
250 g (one small container, 9 oz) soft white cheese (gvina levana)
200 g (one small container, 7 oz) sour cream
1. Prepare the crust and the topping: Combine the crumbled cookies with the sugar and melted butter.
2. Press two-thirds of the mixture onto the bottom of the baking dish. Freeze for 15 minutes until the crust solidifies. Keep the rest for the topping.
3. Prepare the filling: Beat the butter with the sugar, egg and egg yolk in a mixer for 10 minutes until creamy and fluffy.
4. Gently fold in the cheese and the sour cream and pour the filling into the prepared crust. Coat with the remaining cookie crumb mixture and refrigerate for 24 hours before serving.
Variation: Replace gvina levana with an equal amount of cream cheese.
Recipe excerpted from BOOK OF NEW ISRAELI FOOD by Janna Gur. Copyright 2008 by Janna Gur. Excerpted with permission from Schocken Books, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.