Christmas gifts for bookworms (that aren’t books!) – Part 1

Let’s face it: sometimes, it’s hard to know what to get for the book-lover in your life. The seemingly-obvious answer–“Just buy them books!”–is often less-than-helpful. If you don’t know their taste that well, how can you be sure that you’re getting them something they’ll actually like? If you don’t read much yourself (and just want to make your bookdragon buddy feel appreciated), how do you start selecting titles? What if they’ve already read it? Or–perhaps worse?–what if they already own it but haven’t read it yet?

Fear not! There are so many other options for gifts that will warm the cockles of your bibliophile pal’s heart, acknowledging their fanatical obsession love of reading without running the risk of getting them something they won’t appreciate. In fact, I’ve come up with so many that I’ve split them across two posts. Here are a few:

1. Book-themed apparel

What better way to show off bookish pride than by wearing book-themed apparel? (Other than, of course, literally carrying a book everywhere you go.) Wearable items are a no-brainer when it comes to gifts for the reader in your life. Whether you go with a general book-related phrase, the cover of a book they love, or something subtle like a list of banned book titles, there are plenty of choices out there, including shirts, hats, socks, and more.

Bonus: a lot of independent bookstores (including my local indie, Anderson’s Bookshop) sell apparel with their store logo. Indies really need our help right now, as the pandemic has put huge financial strain on retailers everywhere. If you want to support your local store–or a famous indie, like The Strand in NYC–getting a shirt from there would be an even better option!

Pictured above: “certified bookworm” tee from Anderson’s Bookshop, Six of Crows shirt from Out of Print, banned books socks from Uncommon Goods

2. Book sleeves

These things are all the rage in the book world, and really, you can never have too many. If your reader friend is constantly on the go, they’ve probably expressed some concern before about books getting damaged/bent/scratched from being jostled in their bag or backpack–or worse, damaged by water. Book sleeves provide an easy solution to that, protecting your book from all the perils of modern life. And with so many designs to choose from, you’re sure to be able to find one that is perfect for your companion!

Pictured above: fox book sleeve from Five Sprouts Stitching, “Modern Marble” book sleeve from Book Beau, “Sisters” mermaid book sleeve from Cozy Library Creations

3. A TBR cart

TBR is an acronym for “to-be-read,” referring to…exactly what it sounds like: a list or pile of all the books we want to read! Carts like this are perfect gifts for bookish geeks. They’re stylish, compact storage that can hold books (because let’s be real, we all need more bookshelf space…like, always). Plus, they could just as easily be repurposed to hold craft supplies or as makeshift bar carts for get-togethers once it’s okay to have company over again, so if by some bizarre twist of fate they don’t need the shelf space, they’ll still be able to find plenty to do with it.

The go-to cart seems to be this one from Michael’s. Personally, I’m partial to the lavender color, but there are so many choices out there! Some places also sell things like pretty decals to decorate carts with, too, like those in the third picture, above.

4. A web domain (or at least the funds to do so)

This one mostly applies to the bloggers out there who don’t yet have their own domain. How do you tell if your well-read companion has their own domain already? Just look at the URL of their website. If their site name is followed by a company name (e.g. [sitename], [sitename], etc.) or really by anything other than .com, they probably don’t have their own domain. Getting that name down is a really nice way to make their site feel more official and professional!

The cost of a web domain can vary–on WordPress, for example, a .com domain costs $18/year, in addition to a paid $4/month WordPress plan that allows you to actually use that custom domain. Different sites charge different amounts, so look into what the cost would be for your friend’s specific site. This is one of those gifts that is probably best delivered as a note in a card with a check and an explanation of what it’s for.

5. Book challenge posters

We all love a good reading challenge. And we all love scratching things off, and/or checking boxes. Posters like this combine the best of both worlds, in a form that also looks great on your wall! I currently have a checkbox one for the Gilmore Girls “Rory Gilmore Reading Challenge” (pictured above, center), but I’ve also had my eye on some of these scratch-off bad boys for a while.

Pictured above: 100 Epic Reads of All Time from Novelogues, Stars Hollow Book Club poster from Etsy, 100 Epic Reads for Young Adults from Novelogues

6. A nice Kindle case

Obviously, this only applies to people who actually have a Kindle (or other e-reader; make sure you figure out which type and version your gift recipient has!). If your bookworm comrade is anything like me, they’re probably hanging onto a $12 case from Amazon that may or may not stay shut properly. If you have the means to get them a quality case–Amazon sells some fancy leather ones, but honestly, even just a marginally-improved case would work–they’ll almost certainly appreciate it. There are also tons of design options on Etsy, if independent creators are more your speed.

Note: you may want to double-check the features of the specific case. Magnetic closures, or really any sort of closure system, are really important.

7. Pillows and blankets

Come on, you knew this was coming. Readers can never have too many blankets or pillows. We sit around curled up on our beds and/or couches all day, and our backs are probably going to be badly damaged from it eventually, but hey–we might as well be comfy while we’re doing it, right? With so many types of pillows–throw pillows, body pillows, book-prop pillows–and a myriad of blanket options as well, you can’t go wrong. Bonus points if you know their favorite book/series and get them something with a quote or character from it.

Pictured above: Nevernight pillow from Jay Kristoff, book quote blanket from Book Gizmo, Book Beau Bean

8. Nice earbuds

This one is for all the audiobook fanatics! Audio quality is important for books just as much as it is for music. Whether they’re a super-nice set of Airpods, a noise-cancelling pair of Beats, or just a solid replacement for their old, worn-out pair, a new set of headphones will make them think of you every time they listen to a good story. And speaking of audiobooks…

9. A subscription to Audible

Audible is an audiobook platform through Amazon that gives users a set number of monthly “credits” they can use to buy audiobooks, including a range of Audible-exclusive titles. Finally, your linguistically-inclined chum won’t have to wait for months for the most popular titles to become available at the library, or mourn the fact that they’ll never be able to listen to the audio for Born a Crime by Trevor Noah*.

* True story, I sent a materials request to my library asking if they could get the audiobook for this one, not realizing it was an Audible Exclusive. I was heartbroken when I found out. Still haven’t listened to it yet, for that very reason…

…and many more!

This post is getting pretty long, so I’m going to split it up. Stay tuned for a “part 2” with more gift ideas for your favorite book nerds!

Until next time,

Kathryn (“K-Specks”)

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