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Buy 'A Room With a View' by E.M. Forster.

Buy 'Written on the Body' by Jeanette Winterson.

Buy 'The English Patient' by Michael Ondaatje.

Buy 'The Cinnamon Peeler' by Michael Ondaatje.

Buy 'Pablo Neruda: Selected Poems.'

Buy 'Stranger Music: Selected Poems and Songs' by Leonard Cohen.

Buy 'Heavenly Sex' by Robert Sward.

Buy 'Quilting the Black-Eyed Pea: Poems and Not Quite Poems' by Nikki Giovanni.

Buy 'Death in Slow Motion: My Mother's Descent Into Alzheimer's' by Eleanor Cooney.

Buy 'Breaking Clean' by Judy Blunt.

Buy 'The Time of Our Singing' by Richard Powers.

Buy 'From Crappy to Happy: Small Steps to Big Happiness NOW!' by Randy Peyser.

Buy 'The Perfect Man' by Dean and Merril Buckhorn.


Mind Your Peas and Q&A's: Nikki Giovanni comes to Bookshop Santa Cruz Feb. 16.

Geek Love

This month in literary haps: sex from heaven, poetry about peas and going from crappy to happy

By Jessica Rovay

Geeks are in, from what I hear. Nerds, dorks, bookworms and wallflowers--all of these are the new cool. So this Valentine's Day, why not skip the hackneyed flowers and chocolates and get your beloved some nice, tasty literature?

Think of the romance ... sitting head to head in a coffee shop, cradling a book between the two of you, coffee steaming up your glasses. But which books to choose? This is an important question--you don't want to give your intended, say, Anna Karenina or Don Quixote and leave her wondering exactly what you're trying to suggest. E.M. Forster's A Room With a View is exactly the right combination of romance and light satire (plus it's nice and short--unlike, say, James' Portrait of a Lady). Written on the Body by Jeanette Winterson is a beautiful book about a consuming love, and The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje is absolutely brilliant, even if you didn't like the movie (also check out his poetry, specifically The Cinnamon Peeler). Speaking of poetry, Pablo Neruda is a good, solid choice, and Leonard Cohen has been known to make girls swoon (I might have a personal bias).

Better yet, go on a romantic date to an author event--nothing says "I love you" like listening to someone else read to your sweetie (and you can usually get a signed book out of the deal). Happily, Santa Cruz bookshops are brimming with literary delights this month. If you like poetry, check out the Capitola Book Café on Feb. 10--local poet Robert Sward will be reading from his new collection, Heavenly Sex, a book of poems about the varieties of love.

On Feb. 16 at Bookshop Santa Cruz, the inimitable Nikki Giovanni will share her newest book, Quilting the Black-Eyed Pea, written in the wake of 9/11. She's an amazing poet and a gifted lecturer, plus her new book deals with love and death and politics and baseball, and what could be more romantic than that?

For those who prefer a more prosaic approach, the Book Café will feature Eleanor Cooney reading from Death in Slow Motion on Feb. 11, Judy Blunt with Breaking Clean on Feb. 13, and Richard Powers reading from The Time of Our Singing on Feb. 15.

If you're going solo this Valentine's or just need a little inspiration, think about heading over to Gateways. On Feb. 13, performance artist and magazine editor Randy Peyser presents From Crappy to Happy: Small Steps to Big Happiness NOW!

One last word on books and romance: Borders' self-help section features a book called The Perfect Man. It comes with a little man-shaped doll; press a button and he says things like "May I take you shoe shopping?" and "As always, you're right," but when I tried it out the batteries were dead and all he did was make a sad buzzing noise. Figures.

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From the February 5-11, 2003 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

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