- everyone always assumes that book nerds are picky as all hell (guilty as charged), and
- no one knows what you've already read (fair enough; I barely know what I've already read).
Clearly, actual books are out. But there's a whole world wide web filled with weird and/or cool book-related gifts out there that will wow the socks off (or charm the pants off, according to your preference) your intended recipient. And fortunately for you, I've corraled them all here under one figurative roof for your perusal.
Everyone loves a book safe, maybe because it makes us feel all dangerous and subversive and totally prepared, should the need arise, to hide the microfilm. Rusty, for some reason, has two book safes. Perhaps he's a double agent. You can always buy one from the huge selection available here. Or if you're the crafty sort -- or you just don't want to leave a paper trail -- here's how to make one.
Now, a gift basket specially designed for book lovers is a nice idea. You could always use a service that designs and send them for you. Their "Pamper a Friend" basket includes your choice of novels, magazines, bath and spa goodies, gourmet treats, champagne (optional), bathrobe, slippers or luxurious throw. Or the "Shakespeare Can Be Fun" basket, which includes one or more Shakespearean plays that "the whole family can enjoy" (ha! Not mine!) bundled with paper masks, crowns and more. Or you could pillage their website's inventory and come up with your own combos. Maybe a copy of Jules Verne's Around the World in Eighty Days paired with a ride in a hot air balloon? No, seriously, a hot air balloon ride! How cool is that? Think big! It's the holidays, you cheap bastard.
If you have a book-loving kid on your gift list, how about getting them one of these super-slick under-the-blankets reading lights (and maybe pair it with a good kids' book), and confirm your status as coolest aunt or uncle EVER?
Okay, seriously, these Penguin Classics mugs are so awesome, I can't believe someone didn't come up with them earlier. No matter. They made up for lost time by also coming out with these deckchairs.
Did you know the Library of Congress has a gift shop? That's so cool! (Shut up. It's cool if you're me.) You can go to their online store to order The New York Public Library Home Library System. "For the general book lover or for someone whose ardor for the printed word has led to stacks of yet-to-be-read volumes on floors and other surfaces, here's a great, enjoyable way to keep track of them all."
For the slightly less anal retentive, how about custom bookplates, already engraved with the recipient's name? If your budget's a bit smaller, you can give regular bookplates and let the recipient write their own damn name. Or if your budget's really tiny, get some adhesive printer paper and make your own!
Everyone knows that all the cool kids keep track of their reading habits through self-indulgent, navel-gazing blogs, but your mom and dad and Uncle Bob don't know it. For them, there's the Bookography Journal. Awww... paper journals. Kind of takes you back, doesn't it?
Now, I know I said that buying books is probably out. But what if the book in question is so special, so totally unique, that there's no way they already have it? Such as -- ta-DA! -- a personalized romance novel. Just provide the recipient's particulars and they can star in their own bodice ripper. Bonus points if you personalize this for a guy.
If heaving bosoms aren't your bag, you can search here for a signed copy of a favourite book. I didn't recognize many of the authors in the directory, but I did spot books by Ian McEwan, Margaret Atwood, Maya Angelou, Alexander McCall Smith, and Nigella Lawson.
If you want to go the more international artsy-craftsy route, these handmade Indian book ornaments -- traditionally used as decorations for the Diwali festival -- are actually quite pretty, and since they're sold through The Literacy Site, some of the proceeds go towards a good cause. There are six books in the set, and the pages are blank, so you can either write your own stories or messages in them, or let the recipient do the writing.
I've only read about the game of Authors in Little Women, but apparently you can still buy it, which is kind of cute, if somewhat twee. ("Twee" is a line upon which we book nerds seem to be destined to teeter.) Maybe a good copy of Little Women and this card game would make a nice gift for someone?
Speaking of twee, those Magnetic Poetry Kit people have a special edition just for book lovers. Do those hardworking people ever sleep? According to one product reviewer, "The Book Lover kit breathed some new life into the phrases from the Original Magnetic Poetry kit on my fridge." Another wrote, "Some good words, but... some variant conjugations would've been nice." Oooookaaaaaay.
Call me a goof, but I kind of dig this corny vintage "Prose before hos" tee. Good news: it comes in men and women's sizes. ("One size fits all" is one of the biggest lies in retail.)
Nothing says "I give up, World!" like one of these super-deluxe read-in-bed pillows, unless it's one of those pillows paired with a matching LEG WEDGE. (What I love about this site is that they try to deny the truth by calling it a work-in-bed pillow. Ha! Nice try. Still... I want one so bad it hurts. I always knew I'd turn into my grandma eventually, but who knew it would happen so early?)
And on that note, this pretty much wraps things up. ("Wraps"... geddit? Ha.)
One thing, though. This? Don't get this for anybody. Also this. Yikes.
Or you can just eschew the whole book theme entirely and get your loved one a couple of these. I know I want one.