Heart-shaped books from medieval times frequently make their rounds on social media (here is a really nice post devoted to them). For good reason, of course, because they are as unusual as they are pretty. Dating exclusively from the 15th and 16th century, they commonly contain songs, poetry and other short texts devoted to Love. As much as I love actual surviving books, this depiction in a painting from c. 1480 speaks to me because of the context it provides - lacking when you hold the real medieval book in your hand. There he is, the reader, walking around town, holding the heart-shaped pages with love poetry in his hand. He looks dreamy, as if contemplating his love, lost or waiting at home. It’s an unusual snapshot of how those heart-shaped books were used for real - or at least how I would like them to be.
Pic: Metropolitan Museum, Accession nr. 50.145.25 (Young Man Holding a Book, anonymous, c. 1480). More info here, as well as a Hi-Res image.