A few days ago, I decided to look up gifts for writers, inspired by an author-themed candle a friend posted on my Facebook wall.
What I found? All kinds of books on writing—apparently everyone and their unemployed nephew can tell you methods and strategies for how to be a better writer. Lots of T-shirts with writerly slogans like, “Be careful, or I’ll put you in my novel” or “Keep Calm and Write On.” (Is there any niche group that this British cultural juggernaut cannot fit into its mold? I don’t think so. They’re everywhere.)
And I also found these three gifts. Take a look. Put them on a gift list for a writer in your life. Or, in some cases, maybe not.
As you can see from this picture, I actually own this one. And I’m really, nerdily happy about it.
The basic idea is that you play a game of Jenga…but the tiles have book related questions on them. They range from the fairly typical….
“What book do you wish had a sequel?”
“Do you read the book before or after seeing the movie?”
To the strangely worded….
“Is there a book you read that still haunts you?”
To the might-start-a-fight….
“Do you prefer ebooks or printed books?”
“Name a book that you really didn’t like.”
And, finally, my personal favorite….
“Have you ever read fan fiction? Do you know what it is?”
The game promotes itself with such catchy slogans as “Book Lovers Jenga is Edge-of-Your-Seat-Fun!” and “As the tower builds, so does the dialogue!”
In addition, the box says, “1 or more players,” so apparently you can play by yourself. This is clearly a change made to accommodate the more introverted writers who might prefer the company of fictional characters to actual people.
My Verdict: Who doesn’t like Jenga? Let’s be honest: even with this version, the appeal of the game is waiting for the tower to fall. Still, the questions are a fun add-on. And if they’re not interesting enough for you, you could always write new ones in Sharpie on the side (“What comes to mind when you think of the word, ‘Twilight?’” or “Come up with a twist on the Amish romance plot that would make an original story.”)
Type in “scent of books” into Google, and you’ll get quotes from all kinds of authors talking about how much they love the way the pages of a book feel and smell, especially old books. And you might also find a link to a perfume company called Steidl, who decided to take that sentimental, much-praised fragrance and bottle it up.
According to the Steidl website, “This is an opportunity to celebrate all the gloriosensuality of books, at a time when many in the industry are turning against them. The idea is that is should relax you, like when you read a book, to a level of meditation and concentration.”
Besides all of these deep, existential benefits, the perfume comes in a cool, book-like case with lots of really profound-sounding quotes about books and their smell written inside. And for just $98, it could be yours! (Save 10% if you join a partnership book club—no joke.)
My Verdict: I love the smell of old books, when I’m reading an old book. I’m not sure I’d want to smell kinda musty and intellectual. And I know I wouldn’t pay a hundred dollars to smell musty and intellectuall. Just like a kid, I’d rather play with the box.
With the tagline, “No more great ideas down the drain!” AquaNotes promotes itself as a resource writers can’t live without. It’s a 40 page waterproof notepad that suctions to a shower wall, so you can scribble ideas while shampooing your hair. Multitasking at its finest.
There are now also Aqua LoveNotes, the difference being that…well, the notepad is labeled “Aqua LoveNotes.” And the writing instrument is red. That’s pretty important too.
This website also has many articulate and thought-provoking testimonials, such as “My husband absolutely LOVES the aqua notes !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” and “The BEST notepad in the world. The most useful idea ever. A waterproof suction cup notepad. Only seven days from Order to Delivery -from across the Atlantic. I went straight into the shower to try them out. And, you know what? They totally work!”
My Reaction: Although I appreciated how understated and intellectual the customers using AquaNotes were, I would prefer to believe that I can remember a brilliant idea for more than ten minutes. Plus, as soon as I put an AquaNote in my shower, the pressure to create would be inescapable, immediately giving me writer’s block. And do I really want to shut down one go-to source of creativity? Not a chance.