What better way to say "I remember making out with you in the college library" than a trip through the stacks at this legendary Detroit bookstore? John K. King Books is sure to have at least a few copies of "Romeo and Juliet" on hand, or more likely something a tad less tragic for your Valentine. Spend time with your sweetie browsing the racks (on racks on racks) of used and vintage books on offer to find a gift that's both thoughtful and promotes literacy. You can even start your own private book club.
Office Manager Toni Caron says the store sees an uptick in patrons searching for "something special" for Valentine's Day.
"They're not sure what it is sometimes, but they they do want the love poetry --- usually something a little bit classical, like [Elizabeth Barrett] Bowning's 'Sonnets From The Portuguese,'" she said.
The store has a good poetry collection and small section of paperback romance novels (think Danielle Steele), in addition to a mix of love stories with the general fiction.
As for local romance, Caron says patrons love to find copies of "Bid Time Return," a 1975 novel about time-traveling playwright who falls in love with an actress at Mackinac Island's Grand Hotel. (The book was adapted the 1980 film "Somewhere In Time,"
starring Christopher Reeve and Jane Seymour.)
If your love is far away, the store stocks vintage Valentine's postcards from the turn of the century through the 1920s. Caron says the cards are typically "gushy," but don't let that deter you. "They're historic and nice and it shows you put some thought into it," she said.
And if you find yourself dateless and wishing to wallow, there's plenty a traditional grand romance to remind you of your loneliness. Caron recommends anything by the Bronte sisters or Jane Austen for a classic true love tale. She finds Austen in particular is hard to keep in stock.
"You don't even have to have a movie coming out -- people just love her writing because she's witty," Caron explained.
But if you're looking for a romance recommendation, ask someone other than John King, the owner and seller of the store's million-plus books. When asked for his top Valentine's Day picks, he replied, "I don't read that romantic stuff."
901 West Lafayette Boulevard. 9:30 a.m. - 5:30 p.m.