The holiday gift-giving season has a way of sneaking up on us, but there’s still plenty of time to select a thoughtful present or add a lagniappe to a loved one’s stash. Given your affinity for the written word, we can only assume that some of your gift recipients are similarly literary-minded. We’ve gathered some of the best gifts for logophiles, bibliophiles, and the literati, ranging from beautiful new collections of classic novels to fresh linguistic texts with a pop culture spin — and even a few cocktail recipes, because, hey, it’s the holidays.
Because Internet: Understanding the New Rules of Language by Gretchen McCulloch
Gretchen McCulloch, self-described internet linguist, analyzes online communication such as memes and emoji on her podcast Lingthusiasm. In her 2019 book Because Internet: Understanding the New Rules of Language, she explores how the internet is changing language, and why that’s a good thing. Given that language is essentially an open-source project for humanity, she takes joy in the ways the internet has made it change faster and in totally unprecedented ways. This one might be a winner for the meme-lover who delights in finding the perfect emoji pairing for every situation.
Tequila Mockingbird: Cocktails With a Literary Twist by Tim Federle
The cover copy for this literary cocktail recipe book describes itself as "SparkNotes with a liquor license." Combining twists on classic cocktails with fresh new inventions, recipes include "Are You There God? It’s Me, Margarita," "Gin Eyre," and "The Hand-Mule’s Tale." Grab this one for the mixologist whose bookshelf is as impressive as their barware.
Nine Nasty Words (English in the Gutter: Then, Now, and Forever) by John McWhorter
In addition to contributing regularly to The Atlantic and The New York Times, writer and linguist John McWhorter teaches linguistics, American studies, and music history at Columbia University. His 2021 book Nine Nasty Words takes a closer look at profane and taboo language in order to understand what gives these words their power, and why we like to use them so much. After reading McWhorter’s book, your recipient won’t just be able to curse with fluency; they’ll be able to impress people with fun facts about cursing. For example, did you know the ability to curse comes from a different part of the brain than the region that contributes to regular speech?
Murder Your Darlings: And Other Gentle Writing Advice From Aristotle to Zinsser by Roy Peter Clark
Writer and editor Roy Peter Clark is a founder of the National Writers Workshop and a writing coach (so he knows what he’s talking about). In this 2020 compilation, he gathers the best writing advice from 50 language books, ranging from William Zinnser to Stephen King, Strunk and White to Aristotle. He breaks down key strategies, but also contextualizes the original author’s tip and shares stories on how each one helped him to sharpen his own work. Save the writer in your life some shelf space by giving this singular volume.
The Puffin in Bloom Collection
This box set includes Anne of Green Gables, Heidi, Little Women, and A Little Princess. What sets them apart is the chic packaging, redesigned with new floral cover art by the stationery brand Rifle Paper Co.’s principal artist Anna Bond. They’re a great way to introduce the tween or teen in your life to some classics.
On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King
Stephen King needs no introduction, but even if you’ve devoured his lengthy horror tomes, you may not know about this nonfiction memoir meets master class (although it has sold about a million copies). In it, he splits practical instruction about the craft of writing with personal anecdotes and memories from his career as a writer, dating all the way back to childhood.
The 90 Day Novel: Unlock the Story Within by Alan Watt
Writing a novel in 90 days may seem too easy or too good to be true, but we include this day-by-day guide for getting a first draft of a memoir or novel down on paper because it comes with bona fides. The bestselling author Ottessa Moshfegh used it to write her breakout success Eileen, which was ultimately nominated for the Man Booker Prize. Sometimes structure is the thing needed to break out of a rut, and if The 90 Day Novel is good enough for Moshfegh, it’s good enough for the aspiring writer in your life.
The Ultimate Reading Challenge: Complete a Goal, Open an Envelope, and Reveal Your Bookish Prize!
Open up the Ultimate Reading Challenge to find a series of envelopes, each one offering a challenge such as "Read a book that features an Indigenous person" or "Visit your local bookstore and ask a bookseller to recommend a book." Each challenge comes with prizes including laser-engraved wooden bookmarks, greeting cards, and mini stationery. This is a prime gift to kick off the new year for anyone who wants to finish more books as their resolution.
American Classics Collection
Pan Macmillan’s American Classics Collection includes The Beautiful and Damned by F. Scott Fitzgerald, The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton, The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne, and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain. Each redesigned volume features a new introduction and a bespoke cover, gold-foiled edges, and ribbon markers. With titles that take you from the upper classes of New York City to the hard times of rural Mississippi, this collection encompasses a wide sampling of American literature. For the reader who seems to have read everything already, these gorgeous editions will be welcome on the shelf.
A Book Lovers Guide to the Zodiac by Charlie Castelletti
As this text makes abundantly clear, astrology and literature have a lot in common with respect to how they help us make sense of the world around us. This text marries the two by connecting writers and fictional characters to the 12 different star signs — for example, Madame Bovary exhibits many traits of the Gemini, whereas Virginia Woolf is a textbook Aquarius. Pair this one with a few crystals for the perfect gift for the astrologer in your family.
Featured image photos courtesy of bookshop.org