10 Literary Holiday Gifts for 2014


Thesauruses, usage guides, high-proof alcohol: there is no shortage of useful literary gifts for 2014, whether they’re as expensive as the rarest book or as cheap as a pencil. With this in mind, we’ve pulled together ten of the best possible goods for your literary or writerly or editorially-inclined loved ones, because book culture doesn’t have to end at the book and begin with book fetishism. Sometimes literary culture can begin with a book in a tiny sweater.

Angora Sweater Blood Spatters Quickly

I’ve already gone nuts about OR Books’ collection of Ed Wood Jr.’s NSFW writing, Blood Splatters Quickly, and here you can get the Angora Sweater version of the book. Why an Angora sweater? If the recipient of your gift is an Ed Wood fan, she’ll know. But here’s a teaser from the book:

“I’ll be looking forward to it.” She rubbed the front of her angora sweaters lightly again…the electrical shock was still there. “I could go the fur route myself.” —from “Sex Star” (1973)

And who doesn’t want a book dressed in a tiny sweater?

Language Lessons Volume 1

Released by Third Man Books, the new book arm of Jack White’s Third Man Records, Language Lessons Volume 1 includes a 321 page book of poetry and other writing by a range of award-winning authors, including C.D. Wright. It also includes two vinyl LPs of jazz, poetry, blues, punk, and pop.

Oxford Writer’s Thesaurus, Third Edition

Not the only thesaurus on this list, but perhaps the best when it comes to the quality of the word list, not to mention the notes and commentary by writers like Joshua Ferris, Francine Prose, David Foster Wallace, and Zadie Smith.

Bartlett’s Roget’s Thesaurus

The most underrated thesaurus in recent history, the 2003 edition of Bartlett’s Roget’s Thesaurus was a radical experiment never to be repeated. Organized in broad categories with subsections, the book functions as an idea generator as much as a word finder. You should pair this with the Oxford Writer’s Thesaurus, Third Edition.

Muji Folding Table

For the writer who, perpetually short of cash, will need to change house repeatedly in order to survive. I can say from experience that this folding table can be packed up quickly, and compactly, for easy relocation to another apartment, room, or city, should the debt collectors knock too hard.

Red Pencil / Pencil Sharpener

No legit editor or self-editing-writer would turn down this stocking stuffer, useful for hundreds of hours of auto-critique and self-loathing. It’s as simple as it gets: a manual pencil sharpener with high-quality red pencils.

Schizo-Culture (Semiotext(e))

This book eats at the edges of literary culture, but even though it stems from a conference held in 1975 — and was designed by group of artists that included filmmaker Kathryn Bigelow — it includes all sorts of artists, theorists, and writers that any serious reader will admire: Félix Guattari, William Burroughs, Kathy Acker, Michel Foucault, Sylvère Lotringer, Guy Hocquenghem, Gilles Deleuze, Jack Smith, John Cage, and others.

Vieux Pontarlier Absinthe

If your gift recipient is truly literary, and perhaps a fetishist for the 19th century, you will want to forego the bourbon, scotch, or other whiskey in favor of a nice bottle of absinthe. Zola, the surrealist Jarry, Oscar Wilde, Baudelaire, and Rimbaud were all prone to the mystical beauty of the absinthe hallucination.

Garner’s Modern American Usage, 3rd Edition

The best usage guide for American English, hands down. Bryan Garner also happened to be David Foster Wallace’s grammarian-of-choice, if that matters to you.

Shakespeare First Folio

Are you rich? Then spare no expense: buy your literary loved one a copy of Shakespeare’s First Folio — one was recently discovered in France — for a cool $20 million.