Monday, November 30, 2015

Reds Holiday Shopping Ideas for Book Lovers!

SUSAN ELIA MACNEAL: Since we've now left Thanksgiving in the dust, it's time to start thinking about holiday gifts. And if you're bookish the way the Reds are (and I'm assuming so, if you're reading this blog!), we have some ideas for you bibliophiles out there!

First off, something free!

Penguin Random House is having a contest for copies their beautiful classics, with new covers illustrated by Anna Bond of Rifle Paper Co. Aren't they gorgeous? Today's the last day you can enter, so don't dawdle!

And three runners-up will receive ALICE IN WONDERLAND, celebrating its 150th anniversary!

For the writer in your life, I found these fab pencils.... (Ordered for the Kiddo's stocking...)

If you'd like something festively bookish to carry your new pencils (or, you know your regular stuff), this book-illustrated pouch is gorgeous (and keeps lead and ink and whatnot from getting on things in your bag).

And for the mystery fan who has everything, I recommend the new ANNOTATED SHERLOCK HOLMES — a boxed three-volume set with gorgeous illustrations of all of Doyle's stories, as well as annotated goodies to enjoy.

Reds, what books and bookish gifts are you giving (or do you want) for the holidays?

RHYS BOWEN: I know one bookish gift I've already put on my own wish list. I'm a big fan of Kate Morton and she's just come out with a new book called The Lake House. And I already have a signed copy of another book for one of my daughters, but I can't tell you what it is because she reads this page sometimes. I've just realized my whole family reads this page so I can't tell you any other brilliant suggestions. For my birthday my brother gave me a beautiful fountain pen in natural Tasmanian wood. My kind of gift!

SUSAN ELIA MACNEAL: Rhys is being quite modest, as her Christmas book, AWAY IN A MANGER, just came out — but more on that on Saturday!

HALLIE EPHRON: I lust after lovely pens and pencils, but I know better -- I lose them too fast. One of my favorite gifts for readers and writers is personalized stationery. I know, from another era. But because use email and messaging so much, an actual handwritten letter has more meaning. Love the designs on And is there the equivalent of Netflix for audio books?

HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN: Oh, gosh, thank you. You remind me I have to think about this. Yes, I love pens and pencils, too, and paper. And notebooks! I found some wonderful notebooks. They're made by a non-profit called More Than Words, from the covers of old video boxes. You know? The covers are the fronts of the cardboard boxes that held video rentals, and they've been made into spiral bound notebooks. So brilliant. I love them! I have Sabrina, For Your Eyes Only, and Only The Valiant. And Spiderman. And the good part--they are so inexpensive, I'll actually use them. I have a whole stash of gorgeous notebooks that I don't use because (so silly) I think oh, what I'm writing is not important enough. So the secret--use cool but inexpensive notebooks--I'm not afraid to write in them!

DEBORAH CROMBIE: My daughter and I made a stop at Barnes & Noble last week. Coloring books galore! I have asked for one called Hidden Paris--so fun. AND I saw the Robert Galbraith book and the new Jim Butcher (beginning of a new series.) Both big doorstoppers of books, the kind I love to get for Christmas. Oh, those are all for me, aren't they? Well, there are lots of books by fellow REDS to give to other people...

LUCY BURDETTE: Oh grand ideas, which sent me on an ordering pens or pencils for us, though, we lose them like Hallie! I love the idea of the notebooks, Hank, but I couldn't find them online. And Debs, you reminded me that my daughter was itching for coloring books--found them very soothing when in the hospital by my mother-in-law's bedside. For John, David Lebovitz's THE PERFECT SCOOP and the Ben and Jerry ice cream book. (You can guess what else Debs talked me in to!) I'm also giving signed copies of Kristan Higgan's IF YOU ONLY KNEW (for lovers of women's fiction), Isabel Allende's THE JAPANESE LOVER, and 100 YEARS OF BEST SHORT STORIES, edited by Lorrie Moore. I'm going to have to put the Kate Morton on my list!

Some other ideas: for short story crime fiction lovers, RED DAWN, for mystery and foodie people, THE MWA COOKBOOK, and for Florida and nature lovers, my own sister Susan Cerulean's gorgeous book, COMING TO PASS.

Julia Spencer-Fleming: The top item on my Christmas list is definitely book-related: the DVD of the first season of POLDARK. I forswore watching it so I could get more work done on my own book, (so that didn't work out quite as planned...) in exchange for the promise that someone in the family would get me the televised version of Winston Graham's beloved saga. My interest is strictly literary, and has nothing to do with hot Aidan Turner.

A book-lover's present I may be giving this year: one of Storiarts' book scarves. They're beautiful cotton knit infinity scarves silkscreened with excerpts from Sherlock Holmes, Jane Austin, Edgar Allen Poe and Charles Dickens, among other classics. A new twist (no pun intended): this year, Storiarts is offering custom-order scarves with the text of your choice. So you can give your favorite author a wearable form of her own book!

SUSAN ELIA MACNEAL: For more ideas, check out Lucy Burdette's Pinterest board, called Mystery Books as Stocking Stuffers.

Lovely Reds, what books or writing things are you planning on giving (or would like to receive) this year? Tell us in the comments!


  1. I'm always happy to get a good book [or to give one] . . . lots of books going to all the grandbabies.
    Pencils and notebooks and really nice stationery are my weakness and I love the ones you've mentioned. Hank, I've got to check out those video cover notebooks . . . what a clever idea.

  2. Glorious gift ideas. Pens, notebooks, nice stationery. Total catnip!

  3. I love these ideas! Stationery. Video covered notebooks. Book scarves! Thank you, Reds.

    If anybody has a tween you want to give a middle grade book to, I highly recommend books by award-winning author Elizabeth Atkinson (yes, my friend!). I, EMMA FREAKE is fabulous, as is her new one, THE SUGAR MOUNTAIN SNOW BALL. My nine-year-old bestie, Miss B, is getting both from us this year.

  4. I admit to having been tempted by the T-shirts of entire book that I saw on Facebook! I gave the next-door neighbor girls Black Beauty and Peter Pan. It's amazing… I think it's the entire text of the book printed in tiny letters on the T-shirt. Can that be?

  5. Good suggestions Edith. I don't have any middle graders on my list:(.

    Hank, that would have to be some very very very small print...

  6. All of these look lovely. And I am honest enough with myself that they are totally impractical (for me). I intend to write letters and never do, never use notebooks or journals, and don't wear scarves. I might wear the T-shirt. But what I'd really love is some peace and quiet - maybe a trip to Rhy's Tuscan retreat (yeah, keep dreaming Mary).

  7. Yes, it; incredibly tiny print, so tiny you can't even tell it's word unless you're right up to it. I keep wondering if it can be the whole thing or even off it's real. But no time to make sure.

    Mary, that is a GREAT idea. A box with NOTHING in it, signifying "You dont' have to do one thing for one whole hour." LOVE it!

  8. Penguin Random House contest is now closed. I would like links to more of the gifts if it is possible.

  9. Give that T shirt with a magnifying glass, Hank.

    Right now we're cleaning out the basement preparing for the installation of a new heating system and removal of the old. So I DO NOT WANT MORE THING! Let's hear it for consumables. Gift cards to a favorite coffee chain where we can all relax and read and not think about our basements. Gift certificates for eBooks.

    And consider giving to Raising a Reader, an organization with the mission of making it easy for caregivers to share books with their children. As their name says, they're raising readers. (

  10. Hallie, what a great idea! I was just thinking how much I love giving children's books--but alas, the boys are teens now.

  11. I'll throw in two additional suggestions. The first is Ogami Professional notebooks, "The first notebook made from stone." With paper as smooth as a baby's bottom, these notebooks make writing a very smooth operation.
    The other is, "Cocktail Noir, From Gangsters and Gin Joints to Gumshoes and Gimelets," by Scott Deitche, just out. A very fun book, packed with information and drink recipes, featuring a number of crime novelists and their characters. My protagonist, Sabrina Salter, is quoted in it.

  12. Susan--I'm with you--love pencils!

    I'm seriously considering ordering this beautiful set of Perfetto pencils from Princeton Architectural Press--maybe for my granddaughter, probably for me :-)

    Another great gift is the chunky, all-you-ever-wanted-to-know book, Pencil: A History of Design by Henry Petroski.

    And, if you want to really treat yourself, how about a trip to Keswick in the Lake District to visit the Cumberland Pencil Museum? It's a wonderful spot., and a good excuse to travel across the pond.


  13. I love pencils, too! Does anyone else use them? What kind do you prefer? I have couple of Blackwings--they are amazing.

    Katie, I adore the pencil book idea!

  14. Hallie - I lose nice pens - and gloves - All The Time, too. Drives me bonkers.

    Hank - I'm on the hunt for a buy link for the notebooks from More Than Words. I'll post it when I find it. (A challenge! Excelsior! :) )

    Also, Julia, oh, you're SO gonna enjoy Poldark. ;) Story and "scenery." A little secret: after my riding lessons when my legs are spaghetti limp, I sometimes have trouble with the dismount. Terra firma is a long way down from the schoolies I ride. So, when I was watching Poldark, I saw how he flies out of that saddle. Once my lesson horse and I stop, I visualize Poldark successfully spinning off the horse. Then, I say, "Poldark!" like "Geronimo!" and hoist myself out of that saddle. Sometimes, it's a pretty landing; sometimes, I'm just glad I landed on my feet.

  15. Michele - Cocktail Noir - how perfect!

    Katie, love that package - but are the pencils really good? Am I the only one who's noticed how pencils have declined in quality? Wimply leads, sometimes NO lead, and erasers that don't work (though these I see have points on both ends).

    Which brings me to COLORED pencils. Which I love BUT too often they're disappointingly anemic.

    Anyone with tips on best pencil brands? Looking up Blackwings now...

  16. I'm not a pencil person, but John is because he does the NYT Sunday puzzle in pencil. So let me know if you come across something terrific!

  17. In addition to all those pencils, can I suggest a fun pencil sharpener? We have an old-fashioned, fun store in our neighborhood that sells old-fashioned toys like Slinkys and do-dads we all use like back scratchers and all-in-one tools whatnot, and one year I bought nose-shaped pencil sharpeners for everyone in the family. A big hoot when they were opened at the table. In our family, we don't give gifts anymore. We draw names and everybody gets a book--often non-fic. (So I'm looking for suggestions. So far, I'm thinking the bio of Humboldt might suit just about anybody.) The hostess for Christmas eve dinner gives everyone one gift--we call it the table gift--and it's usually something small and fun--like the pencil sharpener.

  18. This is my fave mechanical pencil. Come to think of it, I need to replenish my hoard of them. Cue: mad laughter

  19. Oops. I meant a Pentel Side FX mechanical pencil. (Still looking for that More Than Words buy link.)

  20. Llama Llama books (Llama Llama Red Pajama, etc.) for our neighbors' soon to be one year old daughter!

  21. Gram, the links are in red, embedded in the text.

    Poldark, YES! Got me through pneumonia this summer!

  22. Hallie--re your questions about best pencil brands and the aggravating lack of quality in some of them, see "Ballad of a Pencil Junkie," a great chapter in "Between You and Me: Confessions of a Comma Queen," by Mary Norris, long-time copy editor at The New Yorker. She takes the quest for the perfect pencil to new heights.

  23. Alas, no buy-link for the clever notebooks with old video box covers, but I think this is the charity: They seem to have bookstores in the Boston area, for those of you in the neighborhood.

  24. What fun suggestions! I love the Random House classics--will they be for sale before Christmas, Susan? I want the Alice, although I already have a nice annotated version.

    Pens and pencils, yes! I think my daughter needs those gorgeous Anthropologie pencils in her stocking. And a sharpener.

    For pen gifts, try Pentel's Ener-gel pens. You can get a pack of 7 in multiple colors from Amazon, and regular office supply stores should carry at least basic black. I adore these pens, and I am ashamed to admit, as much money as I've spent on fountain pens, that I pretty much stopped using them once I discovered these Pentel pens. They make a great automatic pencil, too--with an eraser that actually works!

    And I definitely have to check out Cocktail Noir:-)

  25. Hank:
    The book on the T-shirt . . . you really do have to get very close to actually read it, but it's a really clever idea and it's pretty amazing.
    I have a poster [Nancy Drew and the Secret of the Old Clock] hanging above one of my bookcases and the whole book really is printed there.
    The company does a few children's books, too; but they have to repeat the text to have enough words to make the poster. The one for Corduroy is adorable.

  26. Gram,

    If you check the Jungle Red Writers' Twitter feed (@junglereds) you'll see we tweet lots of giveaways and contests from our publishers.

    And speaking of gifts and tweeting, I hope everyone knows that between now and December 24, Penguin Random House will be donating a book to the Save the Children Fund, which distributes them to underprivileged kids. All you have to do to make it happen? Tweet #GiveABook. Each tweet means a book for a needy child!

  27. There's no gift discussion better than one with book lovers as the participants. So many wonderful ideas here today. I'm going to be doing a Christmas giving guide for book lovers on my blog in the next couple of weeks. You can be sure that the book list will contain Away in a Manger, Rhys. I'm trying to decide whether to keep the book list Christmas themed or include other great reads, too. I might do Christmas books and special versions of books, such as the Penguin (I need to get used to saying Penguin Random, or as I suggested and nobody listened, Pengdom)copies of so many classics are beautiful works of art. And, I also like to look for quirky books to recommend as gifts. One that I'm buying for myself is The Bassoon King by Rainn Wilson (known to many as Dwight Schrute on the American version of The Office). I played bassoon in high school, so it appeals to me.

    Susan, I loved the Kate Spade book pouch, but it's $30, and I'm the one in my family and friends who would enjoy it the most, and I have my Christmas spending for me tied up in books, of course. The Sherlock Holmes set is fantastic, and I might ask for that for my February birthday. Rhys, The Lake House is on my book list for me, too. Debs, I love all the great coloring books that are out now, but am I alone in thinking that they shouldn't take up a spot on best selling books lists? In this past Sunday's paper, the list had at least three coloring books in the top ten. Lucy, The Mystery Writers of America Cookbook is one I want to check into for myself and as a gift for someone else. Julia, I clicked on the Storiarts link, and I think I've found a site to love, with the wonderful scarves and the gloves, and even pillows. Hank, I'm a notebook lover, too, and the ones in your picture are great.

    Pencils. I'm more of a pen lover, and if I didn't lose them so quickly, I'd have more unusual ones. However, all of this talk about pencils has given me a great idea for my son and his fiance. They do crossword puzzles together, and while I've given them plenty of crossword puzzle books, I haven't given them any pencils. So, I will definitely be checking out the different links everyone has given for pencils, so that I can buy some special ones for them. Also, I'll look for some for my granddaughters, who like to do word and other paper activities that pencils would be great for. NancyM, I like your suggestion of pencil sharpeners, too.

    Something I like to get family member is a calendar suited to them, usually something quirky about them, or sometimes just something quirky. Last year I have my son the Goats in Trees calendar, but I also love book related calendars, hanging ones and desk ones to give as gifts. Author SJ Rozan does calendars every year, and she promised me a goat one when we talked at Bouchercon in Raleigh. Well, it isn't all goats, but it is delightful and is entitled "Five Snouts of Mongolia, Plus." She has a couple of others, too. Last year I bought her Accordian one. I told you I like quirky calendars. To view SJ's calendars for 2016, the link is

    Julia, thanks for the Save the Children Fund and Penguin Random House book for needy children info.

  28. I loved THE LAKE HOUSE. Sarah McLean's new book comes out at the end of December so I'm hoping - aw, who am I kidding, I have it pre-ordered!

    Yes, I watched Poldark for the Cornish scenery. The bathing scenery; the scything scenery...

    I recently got the "Outlander" coloring book. I'm afraid to ruin it so I copy the pages before I color. What a dork, eh?

    I am making gifts this year. I'm now into quilting so I'm making quilted bags for my sisters. Vera Bradley-like print bags. Audiobooks and quilting go together very nicely.