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Bound to be found among these pages

Saturday, February 12, 2005

Romance isn't hard to uncover between these covers.
HOSE LOOKING FOR SOME Valentine's Day romance between the covers are certain to find it -- between the covers of any of several new books.
Roses symbolize romance, and "A book is like a rose -- its beauty unfolds before our eyes/ Just as a reader's heart opens in delight," so says a Persian proverb quoted in "The Romance of the Rose: A Celebration in Painting and Verse" (Prestel, $29.95).
In her book, Eva Rosenkranz has paired love poems with 56 color reproductions of paintings of roses -- red, yellow, white and pink ones, displayed in vases, lying on tables, growing in gardens.
Van Gogh, Chagall, O'Keeffe, Renoir and Manet are among the artists represented, while the poetry includes works by, among others, Shakespeare, Emily Bronte, Robert Frost, Robert Browning, Dorothy Parker and Rudyard Kipling.
And by Frederick Peterson (1859-1938), whose poem "At Parting" says:
"The sweetest flower that blows,
"I give you as we part.
"For you it is a rose,
"For me it is my heart."
Playing an underwater investigator on "Sea Hunt" wasn't the first time actor Lloyd Bridges took the plunge.
More than 50 years ago, the star of the popular 1950s TV series married Dorothy Simpson. It was a union that lasted until Lloyd's death in 1999. Every Valentine's Day during their marriage, Dorothy Bridges wrote a love poem to Lloyd, and several of those poems are at the heart of her book "You Caught Me Kissing: A Love Story" (ibooks, $17.95).
Accompanying the poetry is commentary by the Bridges' three children, actors Beau and Jeff, and artist Lucinda. Also, there are photos from the family album that show scenes from Dorothy's and Lloyd's childhoods, their life together, family outings and celebrations, their handwritten cards and notes and -- no surprise -- even a few shots of Dorothy and Lloyd smooching.
Love letters found are in "Love Letters Lost" (Princeton Architectural Press, $19.95).
This book by Babbette Hines reproduces old love letters that have been acquired at flea markets, swap meets, Internet auctions and garage sales. Some are handwritten, others typed, and some are on hotel or motel stationery. There are also postcards and telegrams.
Robert writes in a primitive hand, "I just told you that I love you. I do. I do. My stomach is full of butterflies," in a letter that is full of little hand-drawn hearts. And imagine Henry's reaction when he received this cablegram from Kikki: "I need you above any one. ... Wish you were here. ... Doc says may have twins. ... Be prepared."
Illustrating these selections from other people's mail are old photos of complete strangers acting romantically: embracing, kissing, hand-holding, beachgoing, dining out, dancing, riding in a rumble seat, partying, celebrating a 40th wedding anniversary and canoodling in a canoe.
"Theatre d'Amour: The Garden of Love and Its Delights" (Taschen, $29.95) is a reproduction of a one-of-a-kind book made in the Netherlands about 400 years ago.
An essay and text by Carsten-Peter Warncke accompany this volume of 143 color love emblems from the late 16th and early 17th centuries, each with descriptive verse.
The book is arranged in sections that include The Muses, The Seven Virtues, The Seven Vices, The Five Senses, and The Follies of Love.
The origin of the book is unknown. It is thought to have been commissioned by an affluent and well-educated person, as suggested by the illustrations, which are of high quality and well-colored (rare in that era) and show generous use of silver and gold. The owner, it is assumed, presented the volume to the object of his or her affection.
Other books about love
It might not be an exaggeration to say that you're "crazy" about someone: In "Love Sick" (Thunder's Mouth Press, $15.95, paperback), psychologist Frank Tallis describes the symptoms of falling in love -- obsession, insomnia, appetite loss, mood swings -- and shows how they're similar to those of mental illness.
In "Love Signals" (St. Martin's Press, $22.95), anthropologist David Givens explains courting rituals and how to "hear" what the body is saying through gestures made by the face, shoulders, arms, hands and feet. Also, he decodes the messages found in the shapes, colors and markings of apparel.
Advice-seekers will find some in "Flirting 101" (Thomas Dunne, $12.95, paperback), Michelle Lia Lewis and Andrew Bryant's book of tips for men and women on how to use charm to achieve success in business, friendship and, of course, romance; in "Jane Austen's Guide to Dating" (Hyperion, $12, paperback) by Lauren Henderson, who offers romantic advice to women through examples from modern life and from those found in the 200-year-old novels of Austen (who, by the way, never married); and in "Get Serious About Getting Married" (ReganBooks, $22.95), Janis Spindel's compilation of 365 ways to find love in "less than a year," including quit smoking, attend opening nights, return phone calls and be realistic.
Those who think love is a bunch of bull might heed the words of a bulldog -- namely Zelda, a 60-pounder who poses for the camera in "Zelda Rules on Love" (Andrews McMeel, $9.95) by Carol Gardner and Shane Young. Zelda shares her observations and advice on romance, and teams up with fellow bulldog Baby to portray "Memor-a-bull friends and lovers," including Romeo and Juliet, Tarzan and Jane, and John and Yoko.
And when romance has really gone to the dogs, what else is there to say but "I Hate Valentine's Day" (Simon Spotlight Entertainment, $9.95, paperback)? Text by Bennett Madison and James Dignan's illustration spell out the do's and don'ts of getting through a day you'd rather sleep through -- or wish didn't come at all.