Why stress out by going on a date with someone you met on Tinder this Valentine’s Day when you could stay home and snuggle up with a book you know nothing about instead?
That’s the aim of “Blind Date With a Book,” a national trend where independent bookstores and libraries wrap up a selection of books with paper so readers can’t see the cover, and then challenge them to take a chance by picking one at random.
To entice readers to make a selection, booksellers write vague descriptions on the wrapping paper, only giving hints at what lies beneath the covers.
At Brookline Booksmith, where “Blind Date With a Book” has become an annual staple, readers can peruse a display of wrapped, used books downstairs that have ambiguous descriptions like, “Who knew there were carnivorous giraffes beneath the smoggy streets of London?” or “A very ‘Mamma Mia!’ romance.”
Amy Brabenec, the children’s book buyer at Brookline Booksmith, said there’s a similar display in the young adult section.
She said “Blind Date With a Book” is a fun way to help readers try something new, especially when sifting through a bookstore full of titles gets overwhelming.
“The display always does really well for us,” she said. “It’s always heartening to see customers pull these books off of the shelves.”
At Harvard Book Store in Harvard Square, staff at the shop are asking customers: “Will you accept this Prose?”
“‘Blind Date with a Book’ is one of our most popular and beloved book displays of the year,” the company said in a statement. “But you won’t see any smartly-designed book covers arrayed here. You’ll be guided by our booksellers’ thoughtfully worded recommendations alone.”
Those recommendations include “‘Lord of the Flies,’ on a boat,” and “For all you lovers out there,” according to a picture of the hand-picked selection.
Bookshops around Boston aren’t the only ones embracing the Valentine’s Day challenge.
School and town librarians also have been playing book-matchmaker, trying to set readers up with something sight unseen.
“Fall in love with reading this Valentines’ Day,” urged Lincoln Public Library officials on Twitter. “Go on a blind date with a wonderful, exciting book! Checkout out our display of ‘mysterious’ books.”
Brandeis University officials this month wrapped up some books in the school’s signature blue colors, and put them out for interested students looking to fall in love — with a novel.
“Want a date for Valentine’s Day? How about a book!,” the school wrote. “No need to judge by the cover — just by the description!”
Last year, the Framingham Public Library took a unique approach to the trend for Valentine’s Day: Instead of wrapped covers with blurbs written on them, staff put out books that were red, a gentle jab at customers who frequently come in and inquire about a book’s title with little-to-no information about it besides the color. The display, assembled on a book cart, unexpectedly went viral.
“We have some really creative staff members who thought it would be a fun way to showcase books that wouldn’t otherwise be found or discovered,” library officials said at the time.
Want a date for Valentine?s Day? How about a book! Our Blind Date with a Book display is now up across from the Information & Borrowing Desk in Goldfarb 1. No need to judge by the cover?just by the description! #Brandeis pic.twitter.com/dlZJVLPXaC— Brandeis Library (@brandeislib) February 11, 2019