Books offer novel present ideas
THERE is more to books on Valentine's Day than romantic fiction.
For those who are fed up sending flowers, or pigging out on chocolates, maybe a good read will touch the heart of your loved one.
Graham Williams from the Hong Kong store Bookazine said Valentine's Day generated a lot of business and this year was likely to be no exception.
'We are usually very busy on the day itself - not just selling books, but also cards and other gifts. There are usually a lot of people in the shop,' he said.
Mr Williams said a good book made an attractive alternative to more obvious presents.
'Three days after Valentine's Day the flowers will be wilting and there will just be the chocolate wrappers left,' he said.
'But a book remains. It is lasting. Also the thought and time taken in selecting or finding the perfect book makes it much more special.' Mr Williams has drawn up a brief list of suggested titles for those still searching for that elusive present.
For men, he recommends the new thriller from Jack Higgins - Sheba ($95), published by Signet.
It has just reached the shops and, in line with other Higgins' fare, such as The Eagle has Landed, it is set in World War II, only this time with an Arabian backdrop.
Next up is Lady Chatterley's Lover according to Spike Milligan, the British comedian's pastiche of D. H. Lawrence's classic love story.
'I think his approach is pretty irreverent but, for the open-minded, I think it will be appreciated by both men and women,' Mr Williams said.
The book costs $95 and is published in paperback by Penguin.
Turning to more traditional Valentines tomes, Bookazine sells a range of romantic fiction.
One big seller has been the sequel to Gone with the Wind, Scarlett, which costs $82.
'It has sold particularly well, especially after it was serialised on the television,' Mr Williams said.
'It's a good romantic story but it's also a fairly safe choice. You could opt for more extreme and high-brow stories of romance which may be thought of as heavy going, but Scarlett is a pretty safe bet.' Alternatively, the American publisher Avon produces a packaged set which includes a teddy bear and two romantic novels. It retails at $140.
For those who want to get straight down to the nitty-gritty, Mr Williams recommends a series of more explicit 'pillow' books, which are tastefully produced.
For $108, publishers Harper Collins have released a series of illustrated pocket books of such saucy classics as the Kama Sutra and The Perfumed Garden.
'Now this is what Valentine's Day is really all about!' said Mr Williams.
'This is hardly category III stuff, but we do sell a lot of these books. Everyone seems to buy them.' The international obsession with super-models has spawned a few new titles on the bookshelves, including Ego, by Tim Geary.
It costs $95 from Coronet books and is the usual staple diet of sex, power and business amid the hunt for the world's top male model.
Finally, Mr Williams has a book choice which is a sobering antidote to the romance and hype of Valentine's Day.
John Gray's Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus is a serious work which argues that men and women are so radically different they often find it impossible to communicate.
The book offers advice on how to bridge the gap and resolve the battle of the sexes.
'I don't think I would market this as a Valentine's book as such,' Mr Williams said.
'Perhaps it's a book for the arguments that follow Valentine's Day.'