I beg you, don’t buy a novelty notebook for the book lover in your life this holiday season.* ‹ Literary Hub

November 21, 2022, 12:03pm

Seriously. They already have too many. They also have too many totes, “old book” candles, library card socks, custom bookmarks, LED book lights. Any number of these is basically too many, except the totes, which don’t count because usually they’re free. I know, this isn’t what you’ve been told. But you can’t listen to the gift guides. The gift guides were invented to mislead you.

In addition to being ubiquitous, novelty notebooks are usually just kinda corny. There’s nothing offensive about them, but you wouldn’t really want to pull them out in public, not even to jot down the first line of the Next Great American Novel. More importantly, as editor Katie Yee pointed out when I brought this up in the Lit Hub slack, one of the main problems with novelty notebooks is that they tend to be wide-ruled, which no one likes. This prompted a heated debate among certain Lit Hub staff members about what kind of notebook is best. Results in our poll were split:

Lined – 1 vote

Graph – 1 vote

Blank/psychopath – 2 votes

Wide-ruled – 0 votes, because we are adults

Dot graph – 2 votes

The point is, novelty or not, notebooks are very personal. It’s like buying someone’s face wash. Unless you’re close enough to them that you know their brand, you’re probably just wasting your money. Even Joan Didion, famous for keeping notebooks, did not use the novelty notebook she was almost certainly gifted.

I recognize it’s tough, though. What can you get that distant family member when all you remember about them is that they like books, or write them, or read about them, or something? You can’t actually get them a book, right? Right. Get them a cashmere blanket. It’s a little too extravagant to buy oneself, but feels just delightful on the tootsies, while reading or otherwise. Can’t miss. (If you must have something that’s explicitly “books,” the Sweet Pickle Books hat is also a go this year. I don’t make the rules.)

* Unless it was once owned by Joan Didion. Obviously.

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