My Ambitious Valentine

Type A personalities will rejoice in Daniel H. Pink’s new title, Drive. Reminiscent of Malcolm Gladwell’s bestsellers, like Blink, Pink’s take on personal motivation and success will, funnily enough, push even the staunchest couch potatoes to make a little more effort.

My Arty Valentine

Gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous: Wayne White’s Maybe Now I’ll Get the Respect I So Richly Deserve, showcases his artwork to utter perfection. In collaboration with Todd Oldham, this ode to the artist feels like an intimate scrapbook with terrific interviews, paintings, sketches, personal photos and musings that paint a complete portrait.

Many a nerdy/artist/comic book lover will revel in Lisa Fitzpatrick’s The Art of Avatar. This beautiful book boasts a foreword by nerd-god Peter Jackson, over 200 lush illustrations and some never-before-published sketches.

The Journey of the Highwaymen, by Catherine M. Enns, tells the remarkable story of a group of African-American Florida artists who sold their paintings out of their cars. Now established, the Highwaymen were, for the most part, untrained and instinctual painters of the Sunshine State’s romantic and eerie landscapes.

My Book Club Valentine

Striking the perfect chord between intelligent writing and page-turning cheesiness, Deborah Copaken Kogan’s Between Here and April will have you at the first sentence. Both a mystery and a story of friendship, this novel will not disappoint.

A random slice of American life combined with potential tragedy makes Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni’s One Amazing Thing a great read. The premise, of strangers trapped together after an earthquake, provides a compelling backdrop for each character’s unique story.

My Chills and Thrills Valentine

Robert Goolrick’s genuis premise for his mystery, A Reliable Wife, has a lonely man posting a notice for a mate. The woman he chooses turns out to be nothing like he had wished for.

The perfect airplane read, Restless, by William Boyd, mixes a mother-daughter saga with espionage. Based on true events, this thrilling story of discovery both personal and political will keep you up until the last page is turned.

My Cinephile Valentine

Your film student beau will revel in Elia Kazan’s Kazan on Directing. One of the 20th century’s most controversial directors, Kazan (On the Waterfront), both loved and hated personally, proves he knows his way around a movie set.

My Classic Valentine

There are few girls who don’t love France, food and romance. Elizabeth Bard’s Lunch in Paris brings all three together to form a very personal box of chocolates.

Big, bold and sassy, like Gone with the Wind, Leila Meacham’s Roses will keep you up in the middle of the night, turning pages. A heady perfume of revenge, passion and drama, this novel will not disappoint.

My Depressive Valentine

Ariel Gore’s latest work, Bluebird: Women and the New Psychology of Happiness, explores the way that American women have been manipulated by positive psychology. A fascinating look into the business of happiness, Gore brings a feminist bent to the decidedly non-feminist genre of self-help.

My Footloose Valentine

Stanley Turkel’s Great American Hoteliers: Pioneers of the Hotel Industry covers a unique portion of the history of this country by dwelling on the hospitality business. With a large part of the Story of the United States focusing on Manifest Destiny, and our Pursuit of Happiness, where people stayed along the way is an interesting psychological convergence of our American-ness.

My Hip-Hop Valentine

In Hip Hop World: A Groundworks Guide, Dalton Higgins offers a brief overview of the elements of hip hop, interviews with the powerful players and predicts the future of the predominant global youth culture of this generation.

My Hungry Valentine

Paradoxically starving and stuffed, the predicament of Americans and their weight problems in the 21st century is both surprising and sad. American Food Writing, edited by Molly O’Neill, may explain some of our issues and act as a much needed salve. The Los Angeles Times dubs it, “A portrait of a nation seen through the prism of food.”

My Literary Valentine

A great read from Jami Attenberg, The Melting Season is a book for women without the slightest whiff of chick lit. Smart and insightful, Attenberg’s tale of reinvention will absorb even the flightiest reader.

When Barbara Kingsolver recommends a novel, I know it will be good, and The Girls Who Fell From the Sky, by Heidi W. Durrow, met my expectations. This coming-of-age story focusing on identity and race will dissolve your heart.

Bloodroot, by Amy Greene, picks up in a world that Jeannette Walls conjured in The Glass Castle. This Appalachia tale revolves around a family of witchy and bewitching women whose hardscrabble lives manage to feel charmed and earthy at the same time.

Romance with a capital R is yours to be had in Andre Aciman’s Eight White Nights. Mixing love with longing and adding a dollop of fear, this novel will pull you through a week of desire.

My Militant Valentine

Howard L. Bingham’s beautifully photographed and powerful new book, Black Panthers 1968, manages to capture the intensity of the era in a completely visceral way. Brimming with pictures originally commissioned for Life magazine but never published, this work makes it possible to feel immersed in a seminal moment in history even if you weren’t even born.

My Original Valentine

Sheer exuberance can be found in Temple Grandin’s Thinking in Pictures. The author’s unique experience of being an animal scientist with autism has given her a singular empathy for livestock and an original perspective that is not to be missed.

My Paranoid Valentine

Fresh into our new decade, who doesn’t want to know what the future holds? George Friedman takes a look into his crystal ball with The Next 100 Years: A Forecast for the 21st Century. Hold on tight.

My Patriotic Valentine

Becoming Americans, edited by Ilan Stavans, features 400 years of writing by U.S. immigrants. A diverse group of writers from Jamaica Kincaid to Isaac Bashevis Singer to Jhumpa Lahiri reminds us why this country is great and what and who has made it so.

My Silly Valentine

Jon Ronson’s Out of the Ordinary: True Tales of Everyday Craziness follows the author through his humorous and often absurd daily existence. The writer of the brilliant nonfiction book, The Men Who Stare at Goats, will make you laugh and cringe in equal parts.

My Tongue-tied Valentine

Just when it seems that good conversation is going the way of the 20th century, Daniel Menaker’s A Good Talk arrives on the scene. A combination history lesson and updated Miss Manners, this book will, at the very least, get you gabbing.