How to propose to a book lover?
July 27, 2009 2:56 PM   Subscribe

Proposing to a book lover. Ideas?

I'm planning to propose to my girlfriend. She loves books, she must have close to 1000.

I'd like to do something private or semi-private. Any ideas on how to incorporate books into the proposal?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (36 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
Maybe give her a vintage copy of her favorite book with a custom name plate that says "Property of Mr. and Mrs. (Anonymous)"?
posted by sharkfu at 2:57 PM on July 27, 2009 [4 favorites]

Oops, I said name plate, but I guess the technical term is book plate?
posted by sharkfu at 2:59 PM on July 27, 2009

One idea: Give her a very nice edition of a beloved book. Look for something that she may have more than one edition of, or something highly annotated. But in the from of the book, adhere a custom book platewhich conveys your proposal "From the Library of Mr. and Mrs. Anonymous...." etc.

D'Oh - on preview, seconding Sharkfu.
posted by Verdant at 3:00 PM on July 27, 2009

Write the story of your courtship, and make your proposal the dedication ("For _____, the love of my life story. Will you marry me?"). Then print it and bind it through an online service that makes professional-looking books or self-bind it. Wrap it up nicely, and give it to her as a gift. You could even tie a ring to the ribbon, or include a space in the book for the ring.
posted by booknerd at 3:02 PM on July 27, 2009 [6 favorites]

You could hollow out a book, put the ring inside and give it to her as a gift.
posted by biochemist at 3:02 PM on July 27, 2009 [6 favorites]

You could make your own silly little picture book about the two of you; how you met, things you've done, and end it with the proposal and a "they lived happily ever after".
posted by NoraCharles at 3:03 PM on July 27, 2009 [2 favorites]

You know your girlfriend better than we do, but a book plate with "From the library of Mr. and Mrs. Anonymous" seems a bit presumptuous. Perhaps something in the style of a bookplate that simply has the proposal written on it? Or a bookmark marking the place of a fake page you've stuck in there that has this proposal?
posted by katillathehun at 3:04 PM on July 27, 2009

Use books to propose to her. Use the title of each book to say something special. Wrap each book in wrapping paper and have her open each book in order. Don't say anything as she is opening each book, make her read the title. Have the last book be "Will You Marry Me?"
posted by Silvertree at 3:07 PM on July 27, 2009 [1 favorite]

What author John Green did: Went to a book signing of an author he and his wife both liked, and got the author to inscribe the book, "Dear [girlfriend's name], Will you marry John Green? -[Famous author's name]"

I would suggest against doing anything permanent to the books she already owns-- she may be very protective of them.
posted by sarahnade at 3:10 PM on July 27, 2009 [20 favorites]

If your girlfriend really loves books, I don't think hollowing out a book is a good idea. I love books, and on some level, I do find hollowed-out books kinda neat, but it also physically pains me a little to see that kind of violence inflicted on a book.

I do like the idea of fake pages. You could combine it with a scavenger hunt and give her a new, fancy-edition/personally meaningful book with the first fake page to start off the hunt and she has to go collecting the rest of the pages hidden in her other books according to the clues. The last page can have the all-important question, and depending on how many pages you have, you could gather them up and bind them into a little memory book at the end (or put them back in their original books as a nice reminder of the event when she picks up the books again).
posted by Diagonalize at 3:14 PM on July 27, 2009 [4 favorites]

What author John Green did: Went to a book signing of an author he and his wife both liked, and got the author to inscribe the book, "Dear [girlfriend's name], Will you marry John Green? -[Famous author's name]"

Guy did that with Neil Gaiman

posted by fearfulsymmetry at 3:20 PM on July 27, 2009 [1 favorite]

You could propose to her in a really beautiful library, or while reading aloud to her, or by putting the ring inside a first edition of her favorite novel?
posted by prior at 3:31 PM on July 27, 2009 [1 favorite]

Dark roasted blend ran an excellent two part posting that shows some of the best art made with books - perhaps you might gain some ideas looking at these:
Part One
Part Two
posted by extrabox at 3:41 PM on July 27, 2009

Buy a book that is special to your relationship or to her. Inscribe something meaningful on the title page and end with "will you marry me?" My husband didn't propose to me this way (although I would have loved it if he did), but my father inscribed the copy of Little Women he gave me when I was eight. It's still one my favorite books and possessions. My point being that if you write something meaningful inside her favorite book, she'll treasure it forever.
posted by bananafish at 3:49 PM on July 27, 2009 [1 favorite]

Find the book she is currently reading and put in a bookmark similar to this one that reads, "Paused here to get engaged to SO-AND-SO." Just make sure you're going to be around the next time she picks up the book - especially good if she reads in bed.
posted by banannafish at 3:49 PM on July 27, 2009 [2 favorites]

Don't damage a book. I'd cry if someone gave me a wrecked book like that.

I would say get a nice leather-bound journal - I bet on Etsy you could get something beautiful custom-made, with patterns or colors that are meaningful to you both as a couple.
Inside, on the first page, in beautiful calligraphy, "Will you marry me?"

For beautiful calligraphy, hit up a local art-supply store. very good odds someone who works there does calligraphy or can recommend someone.
posted by Billegible at 4:01 PM on July 27, 2009

Ooh ooh: leather-bound journals usually have a ribbon bookmark sewn into the binding - tie it around the ring and leave it at the page with the proposal.

And here's the relevant category in Etsy.
posted by Billegible at 4:09 PM on July 27, 2009 [3 favorites]

I happily second Billegible about calligraphy. Calligraphy can definitely make things extra-special and beautiful.

As for the journal suggestion, I really like the idea of journals, but the execution always falls flat for me. I've received a couple of really beautiful journals, and while I thought they were utterly charming and wonderful, I've discovered that I'm not really a "journal" person. I absolutely love the look of them, because I love books and pretty things, so pretty book things are right up my alley, but I almost never write in them. Later, when I stumble across my empty or almost entirely empty journals, I feel bad, because I've neglected to fill them with all the beauty they were meant for. Of course, YMMV, since your sweetheart may adore journals to the point of distraction, but I figured I'd throw in my two cents.
posted by Diagonalize at 4:15 PM on July 27, 2009

A silver or other shiny metal bookmark that says "Will You Marry Me?" or "Mr. and Mrs. X, Engaged on [Date]," with a ribbon attached that holds the engagement ring?
posted by xingcat at 4:15 PM on July 27, 2009

This is how I'd do it: (1) Find her favorite books (2) Determine eccentric, happiness-foreshadowing events that happen in them--ie, a dwarf wearing all red on the top of a hill. I'm talking major plot points. (3) work them into a happy day of things you like to do together. You should probably be able to start out with an interesting breakfast. A piece of mail delivered. (4) Hire 5 out of work actors to end the evening (while it's still light) in a blizzard of literary allusion (5) 10 minutes of romantic alone time. Probably on a pier. It's important to strip away the fantasy at this time--we don't want her to think you are joking. Also, no outside characters--no passing the buck. (6) Your brother in a boat in the harbor, ready to set off fireworks.

Maybe this is a tad passive. Making it more of a scavenger hunt with professionally done clues (ie, an ad in the personals. a large lit sign. an engraved locket all along the way) which explicitly reference book titles might make it less subtle what you're trying to do.

I cringe every time I read about (a) someone else or something proposing for you (b) "all the world" as a witness. I personally would work very hard to avoid these.
posted by gensubuser at 4:17 PM on July 27, 2009 [1 favorite]

You could always grab her a copy of Anne Fadiman's Ex Libris and point her at the chapter on how Fadiman and her husband merged their collections.
posted by rodgerd at 4:19 PM on July 27, 2009

If you know she has a favorite book with the phrase "Will you marry me?" somewhere in the text, buy her a special edition and highlight that sentence. Then you can put a fancy bookmark on that page and wrap as normal. When she opens the book to check out the bookmark, her eye will be drawn to the highlighted text.
posted by amicamentis at 4:31 PM on July 27, 2009 [4 favorites]

How about ... create four fake books and put them into her bookshelf, spines arranged so that they read


when she looks at them?
posted by AmbroseChapel at 4:58 PM on July 27, 2009

gensubuser, given your suggestion, you are far more elaborate and romantic than I think I would ever expect my SO to be. Kudos to you. I suspect that if my guy tried this, I'd think he'd been abducted by aliens and be utterly terrified he was going to suck out my brains.

I also agree with the point about getting someone else or something to propose for you. I get the appeal (memorable! famous people! you can get a picture of it without it seeming weird!), but it just seems...I don't know, kinda awkward and impersonal. Maybe their book changed your life, but you're still inviting a complete stranger into one of the most intimate and significant events of your adult life.
posted by Diagonalize at 5:10 PM on July 27, 2009 [1 favorite]

Placetne, domina?
posted by rdc at 5:16 PM on July 27, 2009 [1 favorite]

Actually I thought it was "Placetne, magistra?" but I approve of that idea if she is a Dorothy Sayers fan. :-)
posted by exceptinsects at 5:47 PM on July 27, 2009 [1 favorite]

Go whimsical. Here's how I did mine:

My wife's a book nerd too. Also collects pop-up books. So I got her Hugh Johnson's Pop-Up Wine Book. The centerpiece pop-up is a French winery. In the east barrel house I lifted the roof and dangled the engagement ring inside using some string and a little bit of masking tape. When she peeked under the roof, there it was, I got down on one knee, and the couple next to us at the restaurant bought us dinner.

There are all kinds of adult pop-up books you could use: wine, the Kama Sutra, Frank Lloyd Wright architecture, all kinds of stuff. Just find one with a suitably cool centerpiece that you can hang the ring from.
posted by middleclasstool at 5:56 PM on July 27, 2009 [5 favorites]

If they're particularly into literature, you might consider peppering your proposal with some famous literary quotes. There's no shortage of suitably beautiful words written on the subject of love.
posted by Zorz at 6:35 PM on July 27, 2009

Hire an illustrator and/or a book designer to create a book for the proposal, and print it at Lulu. Model it after The Monster at the End of this Book or another book she loved as a child. Point being: make it like something she loves, so she thinks she knows what to expect when she reads it, but—SURPRISE!—at the end it's your proposal.
posted by ocherdraco at 7:35 PM on July 27, 2009

Here's a tiny book ring.
posted by aquafortis at 10:00 PM on July 27, 2009

I'm hoping this is for me but I highly doubt it. Lucky girl!!

As a book addict and a scavenger hunt nerd I like the ideas that combine the two. Though it might be harder to pull off if your girlfriend is like me and reads a lot of non-fiction, unless you somehow get Seth Godin to do the proposal for you.

I'd suggest making a book for her. Write her a story, a bunch of poems, draw her pictures, whatever. Make a zine, if a full-on book is a bit too daunting. Have the proposal be part of the book. Make the book about her, why you want to marry her, why she is so wonderful, the books she likes, The Ultimate Compendium of Ms Booklover. She'll be so in love with the effort you've put in to make something for her - the proposal will be icing on the cake!

For extra bonus points give her an engagement present of a gift voucher for a ridiculous amount of books. (Well that's if you're proposing to me anyway.)
posted by divabat at 10:09 PM on July 27, 2009

How about do the proposal at The Library Hotel?
posted by mmascolino at 11:09 PM on July 27, 2009

Do not hollow out a book unless you're really quite confident that that won't bother her. Some book lovers can be quite humourless about such things.
posted by pompomtom at 11:34 PM on July 27, 2009 [2 favorites]

Seconding the idea of having a book specially bound for her. I like Billegible's idea a lot, too. Following that, if you don't go the Etsy route, you can find book-binders in most big cities, and you can try to bind a book yourself.

I'd suggest leaving the cover of the book as regular book cloth, nothing printed on it, and then the first page say "Will you marry me?" and the rest of the book blank journal pages, except for a hollowed out section for the ring to be hiding in. Or, if you have a poem that you wrote, or some sentiments, or some quote, put that on the first page, then the "Will you marry me" on the second page. You can both later use the book as a journal of wedding-related stuff.
posted by jabberjaw at 11:09 AM on July 28, 2009

Do not adhere a book plate to a book of any value. I love books, but am not offended by the idea of hollowing out an old crappy book, paperback or a blank book. I like the idea of giving a bunch of books, and using post-it tape or flags to highlight words from each title author, to say Will You Marry Me. A pop-up book offers an excellent opportunity to attach a ring without harm. Great idea, MCT.

Most book-related stuff annoys me. I'd almost always rather spend money on books, not book paraphernalia.
posted by theora55 at 11:40 AM on July 28, 2009

Well, as a book lover who used to exchange old textbooks with parts cut out, poems pasted in, etc. with old boyfriends, I instantly went "aww" the first time I read this in another AskMe thread.
posted by ifjuly at 3:59 PM on July 28, 2009

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