"Greetings With Love: The Book of Valentines" by Michele Karl (Pelican, $19.95).
"Greetings With Love:The Book of Valentines" by Michele Karl (Pelican, $19.95).
u Even if you don't receive any of the estimated 1 billion Valentine cards being sent this year, don't despair, here is a whole book full. "Greetings" features color reproductions -- plenty of red, of course -- of more than 200 old-fashioned valentines decorated with hearts, flowers, cherubs and other romantic symbols. Michele Karl adds text about Valentine's Day origins, history and trivia (including the tidbit about the 1 billion cards, attributed to the Greeting Card Association). There are recipes (candied rose petals, chocolate cheesecake), crafts (heart-shaped soap, dry-pasta art) and a guide to saying "I love you" in 34 languages, from American Sign to Vietnamese.
"Portraits of Love" (Filipacchi, $29.95)
u Bogie and Bacall, John and Yoko, Jackie and Jack, Liz and Richard: These and other "great romances of the 20th century" are celebrated in more than 200 photos, some in color, show 10 famous couples as they -- well, pretty much just hang out with each other. Marilyn Monroe and Arthur Miller pose happily on the lawn; John F. Kennedy and his bride, Jacqueline, are seated at their wedding reception, ready to dig into the fruit salad; and Rita Hayworth and a relatively svelte Orson Welles stroll arm-in-arm along the beach.
"The Book of the Heart" by Lousia Young (Doubleday, $30).
u Valentine's Day is all about the heart -- and so Young offers a "biography" of the heart as an anatomical organ, in art, in religion and, of course, in romance. Accompanying the narrative are illustrations, poetry, offbeat facts and a recipe -- not for the perfect romance, but for pigs' hearts in orange sauce.
"The Book of Love" Edited by Andrew M. Greeley and Mary G. Durkin(Forge, $25.95)
u Who wrote "The Book of Love"? Alfred Lord Tennyson, Maya Angelou, Kahlil Gibran, Emily Dickinson, Confucius, Elizabeth Barrett Browning and the many others quoted in this collection of works inspired by "the greatest of virtues." Among their words of wisdom: "Love comforteth, like sunshine after rain" (Shakespeare); "Choose in marriage only a woman who you would choose as a friend if she were a man" (Joseph Joubert).Greeley and Durkin provide commentary on their selections, which are arranged into 12 sections, including young love, married love, friendship and, alas, lost love.
"The 100 Best Love Poems of All Time"Edited by Leslie Pockell (Warner, $9.95 paperback)
u Pockell has chosen poems from centuries-old classics to contemporary works, by poets from Dante to Donne, Li Po to Tu Fu, all to celebrate matters of the heart and objects of affection. "O my luve's like a red, red rose," wrote Robert Burns, while Edgar Allan Poe tells Helen, "Thy beauty is to me like those Nicean barks of yore." Leigh Hunt waxed poetic because "Jenny kiss'd me" while Margaret Walker admits her love for Alex, "my monkey-wrench man ... my sweet patootie.
"Living Romantically Everyday"by Barbara Taylor Bradford (Andrews McMeel Publishing, $22.95)
u Who better than a best-selling romance novelist to reveal secrets for infusing romance into one's life, Valentine's Day or not? Taylor Bradford offers easy ways to turn any relationship into a true love story with countless ideas of finding and keeping romance alive, such as how to send romantic messages, overcoming the obstacles to romance, the many secrets of love, and the power of spontaneity. Included are romantic history lessons and even recipes for passionate interludes.
Lost love -- as in "Get lost!" -- is the subject of two new books with the same title:
u The first, edited by B. Delores Max (who "has been dumped many times," says her bio), is an anthology of 23 tales of heartbreak. Contributors include Jane Austen, Raymond Carver, Alice Munro and Roald Dahl.
u The second (Bloomsbury, $9.95), written and illustrated by Britton Payne, is designed to bring comfort to the "dumpee," at last promising, "You'll get your happy ending."
""Chicken Soup for the Romantic Soul" Compiled by Jack Canfield (Health Communications, $12.95).
u "Don't cry because it's over. Smile because it happened." Those words, from the prolific Anonymous, are among the inspirational writings about love and romance in that fill this, another Canfield's popular "Chicken Soup for the Soul" book series. In this volume of stories, cartoons and one-liners: Dave Barry describes that "Serious Talk" with his son; in a cartoon by Bob Zahn, a customer asks that his pizza be gift-wrapped because "today's our anniversary"; and Plato says, "At the touch of love, everyone becomes a poet."
"Truly Mars and Venus"(HarperCollins, $19.95)
u This illustrated and handbook-size tome offers advice and observations extracted from John Gray's popular "Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus." Topics include how to stop trying to change a man, things to do when he goes into his "cave" and how to ask for and get support.
"The 100 Simple Secretsof Great Relationships" by David Niven(HarperSanFrancisco, $11.95)
u Those simple secrets are secret no more! Niven offers relationship advice supported by scientific findings. Secret No. 62, "Friendships Predict Relationships"; No. 94, "Nice People Don't Finish Last."
"The Love Magic Book" by Gillian Kemp(Little, Brown, $14.95)
u Kemp offers "potions for passion and recipes for romance." For example, to make love grow, she suggests, "sprinkle a handful of rice, a handful of parsley seeds and a handful of sesame seeds" into a bowl, swirl them around and scatter them on the ground. If it fails, at least you have the beginnings of a nice casserole.