Literary Traveler Holiday Gift Guide 2013

The closer we get to Thanksgiving (and Black Friday), the more our inboxes are inundated with guides to the newest, hottest, most sought-after items for the holiday season.  These lists run the gamut of luxury gifts we could only afford in our wildest lottery-winning dreams to those quick passing fads that will be marked to half price on January 1st.  Every year, we each face the same holiday shopping anxiety that begins with the first signs of Halloween candy withdrawal and won’t truly end until the last scrap of wrapping paper hits the recycling bin.

Because choosing the perfect gift can be hard. A delicate balance of familiarity and thoughtfulness, a good gift can set you apart. Whether you were saddled with the token bookworm in the office Yankee Swap or are on a mission to find the perfect gift for that hard-to-impress family member that is always on the go, we can help.

They say the best gifts come from the heart and are thoughtfully chosen with the recipient in mind. We could not agree more.  But we know you have better things to do than scour the mall and internet for that one-of-a-kind present, so we did it for you. We have compiled a list of the perfect gifts for every literary traveler in your life, with a variety of affordable options tailored to the inquisitive reader, writer, and world (or armchair) traveler.

For the On-The-Go Literary Traveler: Oyster


The perfect gift for book lovers — even the name is inspired by a line from Shakespeare’s The Merry Wives of Windsor. Think of it as Netflix for readers. You may feel silly driving to a Blockbuster to rent a movie, and while we will always have a special place in our hearts for the bookish ambiance of libraries, sometimes you want fast access to a new read. With Oyster, you have unlimited access to over 100,000 titles for only $9.95 a month – cheaper than the cost of many individual ebooks.

Oyster is currently available for any device running Apple iOS 7, including iPad and iPhone. The ideal gift for any reader or traveler, Oyster lets you take a library on the go, so that you are never without a new book.  It truly is the gift that keeps on giving.  So, if the holidays are quickly sneaking up on you as they are wont to do, turn to Oyster. A subscription to the service is such a thoughtful present that no one will know it was last minute.

For the Artsy Literary Traveler: Litographs


Does your loved one have that one special book they just can’t stop obsessing over? Let them showcase their love with a beautiful t-shirt, poster, or tote inspired by their favorite book or written work. For the book lover in your life, e-books and tablets can deliver an immediate fix, but if you want to give a more thoughtful gift, a Litograph design is a reminder that books can still be beautiful as well as functional.

AliceLitographs’ ingenious process of modern-day manuscript illumination is named for both literature and lithographic printing. It’s a gorgeous new spin on paper arts that has its origins in technical, as well as creative, innovation. And it’s also a good way of giving back to the community. Litographs commit to literacy by donating one book per purchase to a community in need.

The project sprang from the founder’s desire to create a version of Darwin’s Origin of the Species that could he could hang on his wall as art. Bespoke code was written to transfer thousands of words (sometimes the entirety of a text when space allows) into a visual representation of the world’s best loved books. And, in case you’re wondering, a Litograph is no kitsch novelty souvenir you can get anywhere: it is to the plain paperback what a beautifully packaged special edition LP is to a regular CD or mp3 –a stylish collector’s investment. The t-shirts are printed using a process of dye sublimation that beats screen printing for durability and comfort (the t-shirts are so soft and wearable that you will hardly want to take it off to read it). Artists from around the world work on the designs, from novels to non-fiction, and each artist adopts a unique process of interpretation. The best thing about Litographs: your favorite book never ends. It just adorns your wall or your person, looking pretty and ready to confide its secrets.

For the Jetsetting Literary Traveler: Flanabags AirQuart® Brand Travel Bag


Going through airport security can often feel like a hassle. Between the long lines, maneuvering carry-on luggage, and keeping track of that pesky boarding pass, travelers have enough on their plate — and that’s before they even begin to consider whether or not they have any forgotten liquids or gels buried among their belongings. If you are shopping for someone who is always scrambling for a sandwich bag at the last minute before leaving for the airport, or perhaps insists that a grocery store shopping bag will do the trick, look no further. You cannot dream up a more thoughtful and functional gift than Flanabags AirQuart® Brand Travel Bag.

This ingenious travel accessory is TSA-compliant, and it is sturdier and more environmentally friendly than disposable plastic bags discarded after each trip.  The AirQuart is also easy to use, with a wide opening that makes organizing products easy and efficient, and a handy strap makes the bag easy to carry on your wrist while you juggle luggage, children, and the last fragments of your sanity. Merging function with fashion, the Flanabag AirQuart comes in an assortment of cute colors and patterns, making it the perfect gift for any traveler. Preppy aunt? Try the paisley.  Fashionista sister? Animal prints are always appreciated.  There are even simple black or brown designs sure to please any traveler on your list.

For the Always Writing Literary Traveler: Field Notes

Field Notes

Are you shopping for a writer or artist who is always on the move? Field Notes offers a selection of affordable and functional products perfect for travel, whether it be jetting across the globe, hiking through the woods, or simply maneuvering a quick train ride. After all, sometimes inspiration can strike at the most inopportune time.

Field Notes memo books are small and thin enough to fit in your purse or back pocket, and they come in convenient 3 packs, so a back up is close at hand.  If you are looking for a great gift for the busy writer, a subscription to Field Notes is a creative and thoughtful solution. Field Notes will send your loved ones 4 quarterly shipments of two 3 packs of Field Notes limited edition memo books. The limited editions change seasonally, and boast bright colors and fun, unique touches.  Give the gift of durability with the limited “Expedition” edition. Printed on Yupo synthetic paper that is waterproof, tear proof, and allegedly bulletproof (although we do not suggest substituting a pocket notebook for Kevlar). They are also said to withstand extreme temperatures and are far more flame resistant than any paper should be.  Whether your loved one is climbing Mount Everest or leaving planet Earth to explore the vacuum of space, these notebooks will keep their thoughts safe and secure.

For the Over-21 Literary Traveler: Tequila Mockingbird

Tequila Mockingbird

Literature and booze go together like peanut butter and jelly – or, better yet, gin and tonic — and this book is a similarly perfect combination of the two. The cocktail guide by Tim Federle offers dozens of recipes for clever literary libations, from “Crime and Punish-Mint” to “Vermouth the Bell Tolls.” It also features a bunch of literary drinking games for readers who like to get all Hemingway on the weekend.

With its cover decorated like a literary classic and adorable illustrations, Tequila Mockingbird is the perfect gift for anyone who loves literature and booze, and it’s very reasonably priced — making it a smart choice for the over 21-year-old English major in the family. After all, every writer needs “A Rum of One’s Own.”

For the Outdoorsy Literary Traveler: The PowerPot Thermoelectric Generator


Even the most rugged outdoorsman or woman can feel the desire to enjoy some creature comforts while they’re out on the trail. With the PowerPot thermoelectric generator, there’s no need to leave digital devices at home. The perfect gift for a loved who is always looking for their next outdoor excursion, the PowerPot converts any heat source directly into power just by adding water — efficiently charging any USB handheld device. With the PowerPot there’s no need to fret about an iPod running out of battery, forgo a late night read because the headlamp is dead, or worry about purifying water. Perfect for those setting out on their next adventure or doomsday prepping for a post-apocalyptic future à la The Road or The Walking Dead.

For the Stylish Literary Traveler: Scottevest Trench Coat (His and Hers)


Chances are there’s someone in your life who likes things to go smoothly. They’re the kind of efficient individual who slips unnoticed through the hallways of International airports like a character from Ocean’s Eleven. They can be left to their own devices because they are super-organized. And, of course they own multiple devices. These gadgets are ostensibly to manage their busy lives, but let’s face it, they like to play with them too. And if it’s impossible to buy them a toy they don’t have, then perhaps they need something they can’t get – a box for their toys, in the form of a superior trench-coat that can store everything important.

This is only a slight exaggeration: the Scottevest Trench has nearly twenty ergonomic pockets that are suitable for large and small devices – from a phone to a tablet. You can carry a water bottle in it, but its pockets are anti-bulge, so you won’t look like a shoplifting Inspector Gadget. It is water resistant, stain resistant and has weight-bearing technology built into the shoulders. And it looks good too – check it out on model (and author) Amy Tan. European travelers in particular will appreciate this trench-coat for solving the problem of the one item hand-luggage rule.

For the Book Collecting Literary Traveler: Knob Creek Metal Arts Bookends


For the reader with unruly stacks of books in dire need of organization, these sturdy steel bookends are the perfect gift — handcrafted for that personal touch. Add a dash of whimsy to your favorite bibliophile’s bookshelf with an inspirational word, a nod to their favorite genre, or a scene from a film or novel. With a great assortment of design choices, from words such as “poetry,” “bibliophile,” and “nerd” to a recreation of the shower scene from Psycho or a nautical throwback to Moby Dick, we have barely scratched the surface of choices. You’re guaranteed to find the perfect bookends to impress any reader on your gift list.

For the Meticulous Note-Taking Literary Traveler: Livescribe Smartpen


As the world progressively becomes more entrenched in the digital age, it can be hard for hidebound folks like ourselves to resist giving up our conventional writing methods. There are so many handy digital tools for writers of every variety, be it casual or professional, that people who prefer physically writing stuff down on paper may find themselves torn. What’s a wistful traditionalist to do?

With the Livescribe Smartpen, the technology averse can enjoy the satisfaction of hand writing your ideas, stories, or brainstorms with the added benefit of bringing those notes into the digital age. Pages of written notes are instantly uploaded to just about any web-aware device, and from there they can be turned into text, organized, searched, and more. On top of this, the pen also has a built-in microphone which ranges in functionality from the simple—quickly recording your own thoughts—to the complex—recording a lecture or conference call with annotated, indexed, and cross-referenced commentary written while you listen. Perfect for the college student, journalist, creative writer, and everyone in between.

For the Aspiring Photographer Literary Traveler: Leica V-Lux 4 Camera

Leica V-Lux 4

It’s an old platitude that a picture speaks a thousand words. With the Leica V-Lux 4 Camera, your pictures may be speaking hundreds of thousands. With a 24x super-telephoto lens, you can be sure to capture the whole cityscape of Paris just as well as those tiny, doughy flakes hanging off your freshly baked croissant.

Its 12.1 Megapixel CMOS image sensor captures images in top-quality, while its travel-friendly size and reliable durability ensure you won’t be worrying about taking it from A to B.  And when the moment calls for something more than a picture, the V-Lux 4 comes prepared to shoot in full 1920×1080 HD video with 60 full frames per second.  Its built-in stereo microphone even has a wind-noise filter, so the sounds of those crashing waves aren’t distorted by any pesky ocean gusts.  Leica, the German optics company that’s been around since 1849, has again proven their merit with this wonderfully adaptable camera.

For the Trendsetting Literary Traveler: Paper Passion Perfume

Paper Passion

A unisex fragrance that smells like books? Many readers have switched to Kindles for convenience and portability, but in doing so they have paid the olfactory price. The majority of book lovers will agree that there is nothing as sweet as the smell of a book’s crisp pages – that first whiff upon entering a bookstore is one of a kind. So, if you’re shopping for a book lover who has gone the techie route, Paper Passion perfume is sure to impress. Suggest they spray a little in the air as they scour the virtual shelves on – bringing the bookstore experience home once again.

With a scent that expresses the unique mixture of paper and ink that combine to make up that tell-tale fragrance, perfumer Geza Schoen did research the old-fashioned way, combing through books and paper samples to create a scent that is both true to books and wearable as a fragrance.  The packaging itself is even a work of art —  the bottle sits in a cut-out compartment at the center of a real book, making it a gorgeous and thoughtful gift for readers.

Honorable Mention: 

For the Belated Gift-Giving Literary Traveler: Soot Electropack


A recently funded Kickstarter project, this concept was a hit among the Literary Traveler staff; it is only an “honorable mention” because it may be hard to come by for the 2013 holiday season. However, if your loved ones don’t mind a little suspense, the Electropack is well worth the wait.

After all, sometimes deciding which bag to leave the house with is hard.  With the SOOT Electropack you’ll always have your bases covered— and your USB devices charged. Like a Transformer, the Electropack shape shifts to accommodate your needs — but it also has the capability to charge up to 4 USB devices while on the go. Can Optimus Prime do that? With three sizes to choose from—10, 24, and 34 liters— the Electropack is the perfect bag for any traveler.

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