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Once upon a time the absolute most fun a couple could have together was reading aloud to one another. Sure, you could play the piano forte for hours on end and write letters back and forth until your hand developed 19th century Tendinitis but in terms of one-on-one action, reading was it! In the spirit of dates of yore we asked one of our favorite local bookstores (and one comic bookstore! very historical!) to suggest their favorite books to impress your loved one or your almost loved one or even someone you tolerate. Either way, ladies hide your ankles and fellas affect your best Mr. Darcy nonchalant air…it’s about to get old fashioned this Valentine’s Day.

Lena Little of Politics & Prose

Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow

This one’s a no-brainer. As the book that inspired the smash-hit historical rap musical you’ll never be able to get tickets for, you can start an “ohmygodIloveHamilton” conversation that will have you attempting to sing the lyrics to each other right through dinner, and beyond. Instant bonding material that makes you both a history lover and an adorable musical geek.

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The Revenant by Michael Punke

Although utterly captivating, this novel is just as brutal and non-romantic as the movie. But hear us out on this; The Revenant is tipped for all the awards right now, and this is your opportunity to be the sort of person who reads the book before seeing the movie, and has considered opinions on both. You’ve left it too late to do this with The Martian, but here’s your chance to get it right this time – and talk about Leo while you’re at it.

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Spark Joy by Marie Kondo

Things are going swimmingly, and your Valentine is coming up for a nightcap. But disaster strikes, you never thought it would get this far and your apartment is a total mess! Enter Marie Kondo to save the day – her follow up to the bestselling Japanese Art of Tidying Up is the ultimate how-to guide for staying tidy and organized. Even if you’ve failed to actually follow-through, the mere presence of this delightful volume on your coffee table is a clear statement of your desire to self-improve.

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We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Everyone should read this anyway, but why not make sure that your Valentine can see that you have a copy of this wonderful essay from Adichie? This eloquent and warmly written definition of what global feminism looks like in the 21st century has been making waves, with good reason. A short, necessary, and often entertaining read, if there was ever a book to press into someone’s hands and say, “read this”, this is it. Then talk about it.

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District Lines by Politics and Prose contributors

If someone doesn’t love independent bookstores, they’re clearly not the one for you. As a measure of this, grab the latest edition of District Lines, an anthology of stories, essays, poems, and more, contributed by the people of DC and published by Politics and Prose. You’re now someone who loves their community, their local bookstore, and engaging writing from unique voices in the District. You’re welcome.

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Stories in the Stars: An Atlas of Constellations by Susanna Hislop

At some point you’re going to have to get romantic, and what could be a better prop than a blanket of stars twinkling in the night sky? This beautifully illustrated coffee-table book delves into the history and mythologies of the constellations. Animals, mythical creatures, gods and goddesses parade by, providing you with an endless source of material as you point to the stars and tell their stories to your enraptured Valentine. A little clichéd? Possibly. Will it work? Absolutely.

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Jake Shapiro, Leah Ly and Raven Smith of Fantom Comics

Jonesy by Sam Humphries and Caitlin Rose Boyle (Boom! Box)

Jonesy is a self-described “cool dork.” She makes zines that nobody reads, watches anime, and has a cool relationship with her quirky abuelita. She also is definitely hiding a secret superpower: Jonesy has the ability to make people fall in love. The catch? It doesn’t work on herself, so she’s gotta find love the old-fashioned way. Being a teen is hard enough, but imagine having to deal with the consequence of your superpower go wrong.

Jonesy

Fresh Romance, edited by Janelle Asselin (Rosy Press)

As a brick-and-mortar comic shop, you won’t see us pushing many webcomics, but Fresh Romance fills a niche that’s been sorely lacking in recent decades: romance comics! You can check it out online here–It’s a lady-driven digital anthology series with work by industry luminaries like Kate Leth, Marguerite Bennett, Babs Tarr, Kevin Wada, and the District of Columbia’s own Sarah Vaughn who also wrote Alex + Ada (see below!).

Fresh Romance

Alex + Ada by Sarah Vaughn and Jonathan Luna (Image Comics)

If you like your sci-fi without lasers and aliens but with androids questioning what it means to be alive, this series is for you. Unlike the movie Her, this story isn’t about a guy who falls in love with his newest tech so much as it’s about him feeling sad that she can’t experience life to the fullest. This series is full of thrills and emotion, with easily one of the most satisfying endings that we’ve seen in recent years. Prepare to feel a ton of feelings, y’all.

Alex + Ada(1)

Wuvable Oaf by Ed Luce (Fantagraphics Books)

There’s been a huge spotlight on bear comics in the indie scene lately, and Ed Luce’s Wuvable Oaf is right there at the forefront, a romantic comedy about gay culture in San Francisco. At the center of it all is Oaf, a bear who loves cats and sings in a disco-grindcore band called Ejaculoid. Even if big burly men aren’t your typical reading fare, this one’s heartwarming and hairy enough for everyone.

Wuvable Oaf

Massive: Gay Erotic Manga and the Men Who Make It, put together by Anne Ishii, Chip Kidd, and Graham Kolbeins (Fantagraphics Books)

Speaking of bears! This isn’t just an anthology of Japanese bear porn comics (but it is also that). It’s a study of gay culture in Japan, featuring interviews with many of the country’s most important erotic manga artists like Gengoroh Tagame and Jiraiya–some of whom are happy to live out in the open, and others who live in secrecy. Massive is put together by legendary book designer Chip Kidd along with Anne Ishii and Graham Kolbeins, who run the eponymous company Massive; they put out our absolute favorite clothing line featuring work by artists in the Massive anthology, as well as importing Japanese erotica. Check out their website, it’s the literal best.

Massive

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