Do people go on blind dates anymore?
In the age of the internet, when you meet first online, or when you can google any name before agreeing to dinner and a movie, does the blind date still exist? I’ve never been on one — except with a book.
I first came across the concept of a blind date with a book many years ago while browsing in a bookstore in New York City. I’ve since seen alluring blind dates on display in many other bookshops and libraries. But I didn’t get set up with my own blind date with a book until Christmas 2019.
Every December, I schedule a holiday dinner with three of my closest friends from high school. Usually, we do some sort of Secret Santa or Yankee Swap, but that year we decided to each bring a book wrapped in brown paper with a short description of why we liked it written on the front. One by one we each paired off with a book. I ended up with a book I’d been wanting to read for a long time that my friend had recently loved, Motherhood by Sheila Heti. We all went home happy.
Want a little spark of mystery in your life?
On a shelf in the middle of the Book Shop of Beverly Farms, you can find a now permanent “Blind Date with a Book” display. Each book is wrapped in brown paper and has a few words written on the front, giving a hint as to what you might find inside. We try to give you a sense of genre — thriller? romance? memoir? — or we compare it to other books you might know, along with a phrase or two about setting or action or character. You buy the book (at a discount, to reduce the risk a bit) based on whichever short description speaks to you most.
Our hope is that you’ll discover something new, something you’ll love, something a little off the beaten path. Our picks tend not to be from the bestseller list, but each one is chosen carefully to be sure its recipient is pleasantly surprised. Curation taken to the next level.
Don’t worry: The books no one likes go in our $1 box (to be unveiled shortly).
These blind dates are especially fun for groups, whether for dinner parties or book clubs or pen pals, but they also make excellent gifts to give to yourself. We all deserve a treat once in a while, right? Real blind dates, i.e., with people, tend to be portrayed as onerous affairs. But a blind date with a book is almost always a delight. Which makes sense: I’ve fallen in love with way more books than people so far in my lifetime.
And when else are you going to go on a blind date these days?
Hannah Harlow is owner of The Book Shop, an independent bookstore in Beverly Farms. Harlow writes biweekly recommendations for us. See more of what she recommends reading at thecricket.com.