With several indie bookstores, a huge book festival every year and a cozy coffee shop on practically every corner, Austin’s a town that attracts — and breeds — readers. We've curated a lit-themed gift guide featuring some of our favorite gifts, from printed love poems to author scented candles. We threw a few books in there, too, but we figure these folks probably have plenty of those.
For your yoga instructor who never misses a comic con
Your Illustrated Guide to Becoming One with the Universe, Yumi Sakugawa from BookPeople
“A hand drawn guide to inner peace,” Yumi Sakugawa’s Your Illustrated Guide to Becoming One with the Universe is full of intricate ink illustrations that are paired with dreamlike instructions to do things like share a cup of tea with your inner demons. Your spiritual, hippie friends will be totally charmed by this unique visual journey of self discovery. The playful tone (“Hello earthling,” the book begins) and lovely drawings will help the new age-y message go down easy for even your most skeptical friends.
For your angsty teenage sister
"I would prefer not to" Bartleby mug from Melville House
This coffee/tea/whiskey mug features the famous line, “I would prefer not to” from Herman Melville’s short story, “Bartleby, the Scrivener.” This is a line we bet your surly sister will be happy to hide behind while sipping her coffee on Christmas morning. While you’re at it, get her a copy of the Great Short Works of Herman Melville — she’ll probably find solace in the absurdity and humor of this literary great.
For your lover
Pablo Neruda wall art from Etsy
What’s more romantic than the sweet nothings of poet Pablo Neruda? A framed print of the sweet nothings of Pablo Neruda, that's what. Over at the Etsy shop OneFrameStories you can snag a print of his famous poem “100 Love Sonnets” that's sure to be a hit with your story-loving sweetheart. Browse around this shop and you may check some other people off your list too. For the fun uncle you love to drink with, this print from David Sedaris’ Naked is probably perfect: “We were not a hugging people. In terms of emotional comfort it was our belief that no amount of physical contact could match the healing powers of a well made cocktail.”
For your “basic” bookish friend
(Library) scented candles (duh!) from Paddywax
Paddywax offers a whole collection of candles meant to conjure up the comforts of classic literature via your olfactory senses, like the “Mark Twain,” soy wax paired with tobacco flower and vanilla fragrance. There's also the “Jane Austen Library” candle with gardenia, tuberose and jasmine fragrances.
For your baby nephew, the young and literary francophile
Le Petit Prince onesie from Out of Print Clothing
The onesie is adorable, and your nephew is totally a little prince who has a ton of books on his shelves already. There are others onesies too, like a Where the Wild Things Are one, or this Goodnight Moon one, so you can outfit all your favorite young readers.
For your best friend that moved to New York (because every Austinite has one)
Bob Eckstein's sketches of New York City's bookstores from The New Yorker
Earlier this year, The New Yorker asked cartoonist Bob Eckstein to draw his favorite bookstores around New York City, and the result was a series of colorful sketches captioned with tidbits or little known facts about the stores. All together, these whimsical vignettes capture the heart of NYC's book scene, and lucky for your Big Apple friend, they can be bought as framed prints. Our favorite is this one of The Strand, which includes a hilarious snippet about Patti Smith, who worked there briefly in the '70s.
For your best friend that moved here from New York
Goodbye to All That: Writers on Loving and Leaving New York from BookPeople
Help them feel better about their move out of the city and into Texas with this anthology that features writers' reflections on loving and leaving New York City. Inspired by Joan Didion’s famous essay by the same name, contributors include Cheryl Strayed, Emma Straub and Dani Shapiro. It will surely resonate with anyone who has arrived in New York with hefty goals and stars in their eyes.
Local literature love for everyone and anyone else on your list:
A signed and personalized book from a local Austin author
BookPeople is offering signed, personalized books from local Austin authors. Order through the BookPeople website by midnight on December 11 and local authors like Austin Kelon (Steal Like an Artist: 10 Things Nobody Told You about Being Creative) and Sarah Bird (Above the East China Sea) will sign and personalize a book for whoever is on your list. BookPeople will even gift wrap for you and send the book straight to its recipient.
Texas Book Festival Fast Pass
The 2015 Texas Book Festival dates were just announced — October 17-18, 2015. Snag your book-loving friend a fast pass to next year’s festival with a donation of $100 or more in their name to the Texas Book Festival, and guarantee them (and a guest!) priority line access at all headliner sessions and signings. You can donate online here.
A book or a gift certificate from one of our fine independent bookstores
If you’re feeling traditional and nothing but a book will do, give the Penguin Hotline a whirl. It's a new book recommendation service from the folks at New York publisher Penguin Random House meant to help you find the perfect titles for everyone on your list. Fill out a short form with some questions about the person you are gifting and within a few days a well-read staffer gets back to you with a short list of recommendations. Make sure to buy the recommended books locally — it really ups that warm and fuzzy gift-giving feeling when you know you’re keeping Austin’s lit scene thriving.