Honestly, the best gift you can give an avid reader or writer is a gift card to his or her favorite bookstore. But many people don't feel comfortable giving gift cards because it seems thoughtless (trust me, your recipient actually wants to hug and kiss you and dance around in circles). If you're on a budget, though, gift cards are tricky because it's tough to pick an amount that says you care about someone without making you dread the day your credit card statement posts.
That's why I've put together a gift guide for the writers and readers in your lives, curious cat approved. There are a range of prices* and even some ideas for the DIY crafty person (aka super budget friendly).
1. Literary letters from Anthropologie- I saw versions of these in an independent bookstore and regretted not getting some when I saw them. Great decorative idea for the readers in your lives! If you're brave, you can try making them yourself out of old books you have lying around.
Cost: $20 each.
2. Scrivener writing software- Ok, so full disclaimer that I have never used this, but this is definitely on my explore list and I've heard nothing but great things. This practical and thoughtful gift will help the writer in your life stay organized (and sane). It helps organize your thoughts and keep your writing schedule on track.
3. Books, books, books- So you don't want to buy a gift card, but you want to buy your reader friend a book? Stalk them on Goodreads and see what's on their "to read" shelf. You might have to be careful with this trick because if your friend is like me, she may have some books in her "to read" section that she already owns (we bibliophiles like to stock up for a rainy day). It's worth the gamble, though. Just make sure to attach a gift receipt so she can get another book if you happen to buy her a duplicate from her personal library.
4. Literary coffee/tea mugs- Your friend or loved one will love you if you buy a mug that showcases his or her favorite literary quote. This takes a little bit of personal knowledge to get just the right one/style, but you can browse fairly cheap ones on Etsy for some ideas. Coffee and writing go hand in hand, so you can't go wrong with this one. Hilarious mugs also here and here.
5. Magazine subscription- Popular literary and writing magazines are expensive and writers usually don't like to invest in annual subscriptions for themselves (actually the more cost effective option than buying them off the shelf), making this a PERFECT gift. Some ideas for magazines include The New Yorker, The Paris Review, Poets & Writers Magazine and Tin House.
Cost: It ranges, but The New Yorker package includes two yearly subscriptions and a calendar for $69.99, to give you some idea.
6. Offer to pay for contest entries- If there is a contest that your loved one wants to enter (and it requires a fee), you might pick up the tab. This is a perfect gift idea for a close family member because you can feel okay about asking them what they need support with... and then handing them the cash. Often times these fees come with a subscription to the publication, so it's a win even if your writer doesn't win the contest.
Cost: It ranges, but you can expect to spend about $15-$30 per entry.
7. DIY Stationery- Use some old books/newspapers to make these cool cards yourself, or just buy them. I won't tell.
Cost: $5 if you buy them.
8. Books on Writing- See, the best thing you can get is really books, which is why they are making their way onto more than one part of this list. Anne Lamott's Bird by Bird, Annie Dillard's The Writing Life, Stephen King's On Writing and Steven Pressfield's The War of Art are popular ones.
9. Literary clothing- I've always wanted one of these shirts, but I'm always overwhelmed by picking the perfect one. Save someone else the trouble and pick one out for them.
10. An e-reader- I love my Kindle, even though I was morally against them when they first came out, like many other book lovers. I like it because you can travel with tons of titles at your fingertips without breaking your back or shoulder trying to carry a stack of books. I prefer the Kindles with the paper white screen because they don't show any glare. When I want to have internet capabilities, I've been turning more and more to my phone, so I personally have no use for readers with all the bells and whistles, but it really does come down to personal preference. Most do, but just make sure that whichever one you get has data that allows you to purchase books directly from the reader itself without requiring a wireless connection. It comes in handy.
Cost: $79 and up
11. An Audible subscription- This is perfect for frequent travelers. I recently signed up for the free trial and got Yes Please by Amy Poehler. The reviews say it's a great listen, with "appearances" from folks like Carol Burnett and Seth Myers. I can't wait to listen to it on my holiday drive home!
*Cost estimates on all gifts do not include shipping or tax.