This time last year, the fourth Friday of November, Thanksgiving was already over. It was Black Friday—the dreaded day where I hide from the public. "Stay off the roads! Away from the mall! Away!" I cry as my sisters and friends and enemies alike pour out the door for the latest greatest holiday bargain, ignoring my warning.
This year, Thanksgiving falls on the 28th, giving me one more week to believe in autumn rather than succumbing to holiday cheer. I'm no Scrooge, but I've never bought into the American Way of shopping madness. At the same time, I love to give gifts, especially to writer friends. And so today, with one full week to think before this year's Black Friday, I give you my top ten gifts for writers. Be careful out there, and enjoy!
1) Books. You can't go wrong here. Buy a classic at a used bookstore. A new hardback straight from Barnes & Noble. A vintage childhood favorite from Amazon.com. Don't worry about the writer's taste. A new book is a reason to celebrate, indeed.
2) Gift Cards to Bookstores. From a local independent bookstore, if you are lucky enough to have one in your neighborhood. A writer loves nothing more than to discover an unused gift card in the wallet sometime in mid-March, just when they need it. Trust me.
3) Donations to IBP. The International Book Project sends books all over the world, and they can only continue to do it because of donations from people like me and you. Why not make a donation in honor of your friend? You can do so here.
4) Pens, but not blank notebooks. Cross pens, wooden pens, fancy-pants pen and pencil sets: writers love them all. Just steer clear of blank notebooks—most writers I know have far more of these than they need. But a good pen will last a long time, and will always remind the writer of you!
5) Coffee, Tea or Booze. Pick your poison, depending on whether your writing friend is currently writing or editing (keeping in mind Hemingway's words: "write drunk, edit sober.")
6) Good writing socks. It's Christmastime, so even in Texas it's cool enough to have cold toes. And nobody writes well with cold toes. Check out smartwool. My favorite hiking socks are as my favorite writing socks.
7) Excursions. Get your friend out of the house. Are there any upcoming book signings, poetry readings, or cool movie adaptations coming up this year? Do a little research and plan the date. You'll both benefit.
8) A Mix Tape (or playlist.) Most writers like music. Heck, most people who breathe like music. And nothing says "I love you" like a personalized CD or playlist. They may not need it to write, but it's great for thinking time, reading time, or taking a hike. Music, much like reading, feeds the writer's soul.
9) Magazine or Literary Journal subscriptions. Pick what you like: there are many. Think of Poets & Writers, or Lit Journals like Ploughshares, Tin House, Granta or Glimmer Train.
10) Books from small presses, and books written by friends. Support other writers by buying their work. A great little poetry journal I can recommend is Small Batch, a book of bourbon poetry put out by Two of Cups Press. And of course, I highly recommend our own Julie Kibler's Calling Me Home, which you can pre-order in paperback for Christmas, and it will deliver January 7 (or buy the hardback here for Christmas delivery.) You'll thank me later.