1 Dozen Long Stem Red Rose BouquetA while back, my wife shared with me something she had heard about on a podcast, a form of poetry that (I think) was called a bookmash – poems that are formed from arranging book titles on your shelves into some semblance of a narrative. I thought it was kind of interesting but I was busy at the time with something else and soon forgot about it.


Until I sat down to write a blog for BN.com about Valentine’s Day, which is only a few days away. Surrounded by literally thousands of books, I was trying to come up with an idea when it hit me. It was, in fact, staring me in the face!


I could write a (hopefully coherent) Valentine’s Day poem for my wife by just using the titles of books in my library!


Bouquets of flowers and boxes of candy are so uninspired, I thought, this could potentially be a really cool (albeit geeky) and romantic gift! I set out to construct my poem…


…and this is what I created.


Love Story

strangers flirt, flesh and fire


a kiss of shadows

seduce me in dreams

The dance of time, a million open doors

gateway, sanctuary, paradise

dark destiny, good omens

together we spin

dangerous visions

time enough for love, eternity

the diamond age

the princess bride, the summer queen

the king of dreams, dark lover

the fountains of paradise

the gates of heaven


ever after



Strangers by Gardner Dozois

Flirt by Laurell K. Hamilton

Flesh and Fire by Laura Anne Gilman

Seduce Me in Dreams by Jacquelyn Frank

The Dance of Time by Eric Flint and David Drake

A Million Open Doors by John Barnes

Gateway by Frederik Pohl

Sanctuary by Mercedes Lackey

Paradise by Judith McNaught

Dark Destiny by Christine Feehan

Together by Martha Fawcett

We by Yevgeny Zamyatin

Spin by Robert Charles Wilson

Dangerous Visions edited by Harlan Ellison

Eternity by Greg Bear

The Diamond Age by Neal Stephenson

The Princess Bride by William Goldman

The Summer Queen by Joan D. Vinge

The King of Dreams by Robert Silverberg

The Fountains of Paradise by Arthur C. Clarke

The Gates of Heaven by Curt Benjamin

Ecstasy  by Jacquelyn Frank

Ever After by Kim Harrison


If you’re so inclined, go to your nightstand or bookshelves, make up your own poem, and post it here. I’d love to see what you come up with!



Paul Goat Allen has been a full-time book reviewer specializing in genre fiction for the last two decades and has written thousands of reviews for companies like Publishers Weekly, The Chicago Tribune, Kirkus Reviews, and BarnesandNoble.com. He is a member of the National Book Critics Circle. You can follow him on Twitter at @paulgoatallen and get all the latest Barnes & Noble book news from @BNBuzz.

by kimba88 on ‎02-10-2013 04:50 PM

This is sweet, we play this game a lot for blogger challenges during community read-a-thons and I am always amazed at what people come up with. You have talent my friend! :smileyhappy:

by Fricka on ‎02-11-2013 09:54 AM

Yeah, yeah, it's very creative and all that. However, I do wonder what the reaction of the recipient is going to be. If you have a spouse or sweetheart who appriciates the time and effort taken to come up with a sort-of peem from book titles, you are pretty much home free. Have to admit though, my first reaction was " These are the actions of someone too cheap to shell out for a decent Hallmark Card!" If the poem is the ONLY thing you give your supposed loved one, and he or she is used to being wined and dined on Valentine's Day, my guess is that rather than patting yourself on the back for your bookish cleverness, you might instead find yourself sleeping on the sofa or floor. I'd have a store-bought card and gift card as back-up, just in case. ;-)

by Fricka on ‎02-11-2013 10:09 AM

In reading over my previous comment, I think I may have given the wrong impression, of my thoughts on Book-title Mashing. The idea itself is appealing.


However, loath as I am to reveal the labyrinthine thinking of my fellow females, I have to say that just because I might say to my friend that I love the idea of a book mash out of titles, that does NOT mean that I endorse the idea of having one of them given to me as a substitute for a Valentine's, Christmas, or Birthday gift!!!!


For some reason, we females usually do not feel comfortable telling the men in our lives exactly what we do want in the way of a gift, as the thinking on our part is, " He should KNOW what I want!" Since that thinking almost always goes awry, as men are NOT mind-readers, there's many chances for the guy to come up short in the gift-giving--at least, the kind that would bring the kind of romantic response that he's probably looking for.


As for me, since MY list of titles would come from the murder mysteries I generally prefer, I don't think any  book-mash- poem I put together from those titles would be appropriate for a Valentine's Day offereing, if you get my drift. :-)

by on ‎02-11-2013 06:42 PM

That was amazing. The poem is definitely from the heart (and the bookshelves you share with your wife). I think you need to know the recipient of the gift. But if books are your thing, then the poem from book titles can't go wrong.


Fricka, your second post made me laugh.

by Moderator paulgoatallen on ‎02-11-2013 06:49 PM


That's not all I am getting my wife. There is also a certificate for an hour-long massage at a local spa, if that matters...  :smileyhappy:

by MADIS on ‎02-12-2013 05:13 PM

Look at you defending yourself.  We ladies like to help you not make mistakes.  Me and my husband have rules about present giving to avoid getting hurt feelings.  I think getting a poem (and a massage) would be awesome.  No pesky returns that ugly jewelry can bring.  Plus, a poem is something not everyone can do it and it takes effort! 


I do not think I can come up with anything worth putting to paper.  I am just not that good at that sort of thing.  Besides, it would probably freak my husband out if I did something so romantic.  He has come to not expect that from me and I DO NOT want change that expectation!


Maybe I am the only one, but I HATE being wined and dined.  It just makes me...uncomfortable.  You have to be on your best behavior and such.  We are getting take out and eating at home so we can be as inappropriate as we choose!  

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