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A Bookish Proposal: or how to get engaged in a library

I know this has been a long time coming, but it’s taken a substantial bout of procrastination brought upon by my loved one’s absence (a week-long business trip in Japan–ah, life is hard) to finally spur me to get around to writing this. As long-time readers of this site might know, I recently became engaged in a manner rather fitting for an unabashed lover of all things bookish. Below is the account of the whole shebang.

all you need is love A Bookish Proposal: or how to get engaged in a libraryall you need is love 2 A Bookish Proposal: or how to get engaged in a library

17 May 2011

At ten to five a rather intriguing package arrived on my desk. Being one who is rather more predisposed to seeking out the curious than meeting deadlines, I set aside my work for a moment to peruse the item. It was a small envelope with the feathery tactility of handmade paper, and decorated with the monogram “J”. Inside was a handwritten note that said the following:

DSC06311 300x225 A Bookish Proposal: or how to get engaged in a library

Needless to say, I threw my deadlines to the wind, and dashed off to the library, elbowing my way through the masses of hapless homeward-bound commuters and slow-walking pedestrians who clog the arteries of the CBD during this time.

At last, slightly winded and rather more windswept than I might have liked, I arrived at the State Library of Victoria, where I met my first roadblock: the in-the-know chap who was supposed to possess the second letter necessary to solving this riddle had clocked off for the day. And waving the letter in front of the help desk librarians resulted only in a friendly suggestion to try the online database.

But a girl clutching a monogrammed note isn’t easy to deter, and I set to work harassing the security staff. Fortunately a lovely chap called Bob recognised that there may well be a link between the fact that a young girl named Stephanie was pestering him about a note and the fact that he had a note addressed to someone with, coincidentally, the same name, sitting in a nearby cabinet. After a brief soliloquy from Bob about his nickname, background, favourite foods and TV shows, and the day’s weather I had my note.

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This second note was equally as cryptic as the last, but required less sprinting and elbowing. I was to head off to the Redmond Barry Reading Room, where my present awaited in a volume of Proust (ah, my nemesis Proust, whose work I love but will no doubt never finish, but whose grave I sought out in Paris just because I felt bad about Oscar Wilde hogging all of the attention).

redmond barry reading room A Bookish Proposal: or how to get engaged in a library

I tramped up a few flights of steps and after some navigating of the Dewey Decimal system, found the hernia-inducing copy of Proust I was after. Fortunately it was on a shelf just low enough that I didn’t need to go scouting for a step stool (I’m 5’1″, a fact that has implications for the particular books I’ve read and the supermarket products I buy).

I retrieved my Proust, and opened it up to find that a ring box-sized hole had been carved from it, at which point I checked to ensure that this was not, indeed a library copy. (Aside: thanks to Jimmy at FreeHollowBooks for his fabulous work–an interview with Jimmy can be seen here) Inside the hole was a specially made ring box with the date and my and partner’s initials carved into it. And inside the box was a vintage 1930s-era ring.

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At this point my partner crept up beside me and asked if I’d marry him, to which I gave a very hushed, library-appropriate yes (although from the scandalised look of the lass sitting at the nearby reading table, it was still far too loud).

From there, it was off to Jacques Reymond for a dinner that extended over several hours, close to a dozen courses, and some reading of the notes sent to us by our parents in support of the marriage.

jacques reymond A Bookish Proposal: or how to get engaged in a library

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Proposal rating?

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58 comments

  1. *bawls* YOU ARE THE LUCKIEST GIRL ALIVE!

  2. Stephanie /

    I really, really, am. :)

  3. Such a beautiful story for such a beautiful day! I was a bit teary reading all about it. I wish you both a long, happy and wonderful life together and CONGRATULATIONS on your engagement :)

    • Stephanie /

      Thanks, Karen. :) I’m still a bit emotional about it all! :)

  4. What a beautiful proposal! I love that you double-checked it wasn’t a library copy :) Congrats! xx

  5. Wow! Your guy put a lot of thought and effort into this! So impressive, and romantic, and perfect for you!

    Congratulations to you both.

  6. JessB /

    I’m tearing up reading those notes from your parents and fiancee. How lucky you are, and wonderful to be starting a new stage of your life with someone who knows you so well and loves you so much. Thanks so much for sharing such a lovely experience.

  7. Awww… I say again! This is really the best proposal I’ve heard of so far.

  8. Ros Dunstall /

    Congratulations and how wonderful was the story and outcome. Thanks for sharing…

  9. Stephanie /

    Thanks so much for your lovely words, Belle, Marg, Jess, and Puj. Goodness, looks as though I should turn this site into one that focuses solely on romances! :)

  10. merle /

    That is something you both will look back to with fondness over the years. Congratulations.

  11. Love it. Love seeing you. Love the ring. Love the creativity. You will write your own happy ending, Stephanie. Congratulations to you both! (And I’m with Belle – so important that you checked the Proust.)

  12. Stephanie /

    Thanks so much, Ros and Merle. It’s lovely to have all the little bits and pieces here to torment my future kids with in the years to come. :)

    Thanks, Kat. He did a wonderful job. (I’m trying to fathom how long hacking through a volume of Proust would take! Fortunately he had a lovely chap in the US do it for him)

  13. Congratulations from me too Steph! What a amazing, extravagent, emotional story. I am looking forward to your “Happily Ever After” :)

    • Stephanie /

      Thanks, Shirley :) I’m a lucky girl! Hopefully ours will be a delightfully dull Mary-Sue style narrative with that all-essential HEA!

  14. Melpomene Selemidis /

    How wonderfully, gloriously romantical! Congratulations and all the best.

    Mel

    • Stephanie /

      Thanks, Mel! I’m still feeling a bit sappy :)

  15. Laura Summers /

    Ooh Stephanie that’s just lovely *swoon* that shows love and a guy that knows the way to your heart, plus stunning ring.
    Huge congratulations to you both! :-)

  16. Stephanie /

    Thanks, Laura! He certainly does. :) The ring is a bonus–having the gorgeous boy is enough for me!

  17. Awwww, I love this!!! What a sweet proposal, so thoughtful. And the ring is absolutely gorgeous. I know it’s been some time since it happened, but since you posted about it now, you get a gigantic CONGRATULATIONS!!!!! :-)

    • Stephanie /

      Thanks, Erin! I know I took far too long to get around to writing this! :)

      Jimmy, thank you so much for your wonderful work on the book. I absolutely adore it, and plan to keep it as long as I live. :)

  18. Jimmy /

    I’m so glad that the book we made for you will be part of such a beautiful and enduring memory. -Jimmy

  19. I totally teared up when I read this. Which was interesting, because I was at work at the time…eep!

    I love absolutely everything about your story. Including – and especially – the monogrammed notepaper. Handwritten notes! And that ring!!

    It’s a huuuuuge commitment, you know – reading Proust. Oh, and marriage, too.

    Congratulations! I hope the wedding will be equally bookish.

  20. What a wonderful story. Congrats!

  21. What an awesome engagement story. Congratulations!

  22. Stephanie /

    Thanks, Michelle! My favourite thing about it was that the idea of story was so heavily involved. Letters, libraries, and even a ring that’s already lived a whole lifetime. :)

    Thanks for your lovely words, Linda and Jamie :)

  23. That is such a lovely story! Mine in comparison is deadly unromantic LOl. May you both have a long and happy future together! Love the ring BTW

    Shelleyrae

  24. Stephanie /

    Thanks, Shelley Rae! Aw, I think any type of proposal is pretty amazing. :) It takes a lot to make such a commitment, after all!

  25. Wow, congratulations, that is fantastic!

  26. Stephanie /

    Thanks, Amy! :)

  27. So. Incredibly. Cute. You have a great man there :-)

  28. Olduvai /

    Oh how sweet! Congratulations and here’s to a wonderful marriage. Gorgeous ring btw! (in case you’re wondering, I arrived here via GalleyCat)

    • Stephanie /

      Lovely to see a fellow Galleycat reader on the site, Olduvai :) Thanks for the well-wishes!

  29. That is such a lovely story…hope you don’t mind, I have shared it on our Facebook page. We like to celebrate any story of love and books! Congratulations to you both…and how good is it to have a man who understands your book obsession from the start?!
    Suzi

    • Stephanie /

      Thanks for your lovely comment, Suzi. :) Very true about his acceptance of my bookishness, although I have to admit that he still doesn’t quite get why I keep collecting books even though I have a Kindle. :)

  30. I found this via a post by my local library on their Facebook page. Such a lovely and romantic story that I shared it with others. Congratulations and much happiness to you both!

    • Stephanie /

      Thanks for your kind words, Robin. :) We’re proof that nerds can find love!

  31. Aw, that so sweet! What a thoughtful guy!

  32. What a gorgeous proposal! Congratulations!!

  33. What a lovely story! Your ring is gorgeous! I wish the two of you years of happiness!

  34. That has got to be one of the most romantic things I have EVER seen.

    Congrats!

  35. Awww… Steph, this is an amazing story and I am touched by how much planning and thought went into this one moment. Congratulations to you and Jono *hug*

  36. Oh wow, awesome. So thrilled for you!

  37. Stephanie /

    Hi Kathy and April, thanks so much for your kind words. :)

    Thanks, Tran! He did an amazing job. :) Congrats on your own engagement!

    Nick, so fabulous to see you after all these years. :) And ditto on the engagement congrats!

  38. I don’t even know who you are, and I’m weeping! Most of my girlfriends will be reading this post (and also, no doubt, weeping) before the end of the day. Beautiful. Original. May you be happy together (and in love) forever.

    • Stephanie /

      Liz: Thanks for your lovely words! You almost had me in tears as well. :)

      Jim: What a beautiful story! How wonderful that you’ve shared so many years together so happy and in love. Thanks so much for sharing.

      Mike: You didn’t even get the full emotional sobbing scene!

      Diane: Thanks for your kind and thoughtful words.

      John: Very true! And we have my birthday and our anniversary coming up, so I’m expecting something pretty fabulous ;)

      The Den Mother: How lovely that you have your grandmother’s ring. I agree–I love that my ring has a whole lifetime behind it already, and that we can help carry on the love of the couple who came before us.

  39. That is a marvelous and romantic proposal. I hope you two will enjoy romance and happiness throughout your lives together.

    May I share a brief story with you? My wife and I tell people we met through computer dating. She was a senior in college and I was a grad student and 2nd shift computer operator at the university’s computer center. This was early in 1977 — still in the punched card days. She asked me to check where her programs were in the jobs queue and handed me a blank IBM 5081 card with the job names written on the back side of the card. I went to the mainframe operator console and checked the position of her programs in the queue (and yes, I increased her priority level) but before handing her card back to her, I put it in a keypunch machine and typed HOW ABOUT DINNER AND A MOVIE SATURDAY NIGHT.

    We celebrated our 32nd wedding anniversary this June. Our marriage proposal was a bit less romantic than yours. She graduated, moved to New York City to work, we had a long distance relationship for almost a year, driving back and forth on weekends, and then she found a job in the town where I was living and moved in with me. One day she said to me “I think we should get married.” and I said “Yes!”

  40. Mike81702 /

    Thank GOD my wife does not read the same websites as I do, or else she might have seen this story! SHE HATES FICTION! The actors should get some kind of award!

  41. Well done, Jonathan! Lovely story. Congratulations to you both and best wishes for a long and happy marriage (you’re off to an amazing start!)

  42. John in Texas /

    Jono – Dude – the bar is set high – congratulations

  43. There’s nothing like those beautiful antique rings. I have my grandmother’s engagement ring from about the same era.

    Much happiness to you both!

  44. That is the cutest proposal ever!!! Looks like you’ve got a keeper :)

  45. Carol Wong /

    My goodness, where did you find this gem?

    • Stephanie /

      Thanks for your kind words, Carol. :) He’s definitely a keeper!

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