So, once again this year I tackle the onerous task of offering you COOL GIFTS FOR COOL PEOPLE IN YOUR LIFE. Once upon a time, this was more a “gifts for writers” but honestly, the best thing you can do to the writer in your life is to be nice to them, read their stuff, laugh at the parts you’re supposed to laugh at, review their books fondly, pet them, and then leave them the hell alone. (Oh, also, buy for them this neat book I totally didn’t write called Gentle Writing Advice, ahem ahem ahem, okay, sorry, sorry, trying to delete this brash and rampant self-promotion but it just won’t go away oh shit.)
Anyway! Mostly, this is just a “THINGS CHUCK WENDIG LIKES” and you can do with this list as you see fit.
You can also view the previous years’ lists:
Okay, let’s do this.
Yep, you can buy apples for people. And you should, because apples are fucking great. The season is just ending, so that means you can still get a lot of solid late-season apples like GoldRush or Arkansas Black. You can get GoldRush here, Arkansas Black here, Northern Spy here. And you can also get them a really great book on apples, like for instance, Apples of Uncommon Character, or the Apples of North America, or if you’re really splurgey, AN ENTIRE FUCKING ENCYCLOPEDIA SET ABOUT APPLES. Yes, I own it. Yes, I am an apple nerd. And I mean, if you also wanted a creepy-ass cult-based small-town-nightmare horror novel about apples I’m just saying, I maybe know a guy who maybe wrote a book you might wanna check out. Hell, if you wanted that book signed and personalized, well, maybe there’s a way to get that and your very own evil apple variety, too.
I know, I know, sorry about the self-promotion. But please buy my books or Santa dies. Ha ha just kidding. *gently gesticulates toward a closed closet door where you can hear mumbled muffled cries for help and also where you detect the faintest scent of gingerbread and elf cologne*
You know what everyone likes, including writers? Books. In no particular order, here are some books I liked this year, and you should buy them all and read them because you are a cool person with impeccable taste:
Samantha Irby, Quietly Hostile; Nat Cassidy, Nestlings; Delilah S. Dawson, Bloom; Ethan Aldridge, Deephaven; Rebecca Solnit, A Field Guide to Getting Lost; Arthur Evans, The Lives of Beetles; Russell Shorto, Amsterdam; Clay McLeod Chapman, What Kind of Mother; Keith Rosson, Fever House; Jaime Green, The Possibility of Life; Chuck Tingle, Camp Damascus; Grady Hendrix, How to Sell a Haunted House; Tananarive Due, The Reformatory; Hanna Jameson, The Last; Susannah Breslin, Data Baby; Naomi Klein, Doppelganger; Gary Whitta, Gundog; Margo Price, Maybe We’ll Make; Tara McLean, Song of the Sparrow (A Memoir); Maggie Smith, You Could Make This Place Beautiful; Eric LaRocca, Everything The Darkness Eats
There is, of course, more that I’m forgetting and my brain is a leaky tugboat, plus there are amazing books by authors like Hailey Piper and Cynthia Pelayo that aren’t even out yet until next year.
Really, though, just get books. Any book. Get a bookish giftcard. Maybe hijack the person, throw them in a car, drive them to a bookstore, hand them thirty-five dollars and see what they buy. Books are the best.
(Oh, my kid recommends Lora Senf’s newest Blight Harbor, The Nighthouse Keeper, sequel to the excellent Clackity.)
Like a big dork I used to read Tarot for people and while I don’t do that anymore, I do occasionally like to use them not to predict any kind of future, but simply to have as a) objects of pretty fascination and b) objects of inspiration. You can use them as storytelling devices, after all.
I got two new ones this year —
Shin Yin Khor’s STRANGE BEAST Tarot is easily one of the coolest things I own, honestly, and you should get it.
Also the Erin Morgenstern Phantomwise deck, painted by none other than, Erin Fucking Morgenstern, is straight up gorgeous.
As we descend into a Hell Era of artificially-generated garbage shit, I do think this is therefore an excellent time to lean extra-hard into supporting art by actual humans and not regurgitating copy-paste machines.
Mx. Morgan’s illustrations fucking blow me away, so check ’em out.
Tommy Siegel’s Extremely Accurate Birds calendar is hashtag blessed.
Since I apparently am on a bird theme, Josie Morway’s work just knocks the wind out of me so maybe you’ll like it too.
Love Ellie Jordan’s D&D/fantasy folklore art, and I bet you’ll feel the same.
Or god just look at Serena Malyon’s art here.
SO MUCH GOOD ART.
Go get some for you or someone else.
Support humans making human art.
I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I know. I know! But I have merch and you can check it out and buy it and then I’ll see you wearing your cool evil apple shirt or a Black Swan pin and I’ll know we are kin and then we will freeze-frame high-five in front of the world and it’ll be great. Go check it out.
Also Jordan (Voidmerch) does collections for a lot of authors, so check out the list of those collections here.
COFFEE COFFEE COFFEE
Said it before, will say it again, Brandywine roasts some of the best coffee around. Small farms, kindly-sourced. Go get it.
FOODS FOODS FOODS
Some foodstuffs I like, and maybe you and your loved ones will dig:
This Little Goat’s chili crunch collection is fucking legit, in particular the chili lime one, mmm. It passes the Flavortown “would eat on a Flip-Flop” test, so, there’s that.
I have always enjoyed Jeni’s ice cream, and though they have a wild variety of excellent flavors, holy shit their vanilla is the best vanilla.
They’re not healthy, but green apple Hi-Chews are legit.
Cocktail syrups are pretty easy to make, buuuuuut, also, if you wanna buy any, Liber & Co brings the tastiness.
I really like vinegar, and Acid League’s citrus vinegar gets regular use in our house. Also their Meyer Lemon Honey, but that doesn’t seem to be on their website anymore — but is in grocery stores I think now. We get it from Thrive Market sometimes, and also, Thrive makes the very best ketchup, it’s Heinz-vibe but even more Heinzy? Or something? Whatever. (I have a referral link to Thrive if you want it. It’s 40% off your first order. I feel like an influencer. Nobody is paying me for this shit, I just found Thrive during the pandemic and like them a lot. Shut up, don’t look at me like that.)
I have become a fan of fizzy non- slash less-sweet beverages. Like, I’m an unabashed Spindrift fan, and CulturePop is really good, and I’d kill a dude for the Sanzo Calamansi sparkling water. Also “Sanzo Calamansi” is the name I use to check into hotels to hide my identity. Shhh.
But this is the best toffee, from Littlejohn’s.
If you need good tech organization for computers and phones and such, I’m really quite a fan of TwelveSouth’s products — they’re hale and hardy, they go the distance, and their iPad stand could be used as a bludgeoning baton in a pinch. (It’s actually gotten me pulled at security checkpoints at airports once in a while. “Is this a weapon, sir?” *unfolds stand, places iPad upon it*)
I’ve gotten a couple print magazine subscriptions again — Atlantic, Wired — and not only does it unlock the online versions, but also I’m kinda enjoying reading a thing without getting pop-ups for other things. I am reminded of the BeforeTimes. The world prior to us nuzzling an ever-present digital teat. It’s nice! I mean, I still nuzzle. I’m only human.
Get a good wok and the Kenji book on wok-cooking.
Ok fine fine fine here’s a gift for writers — it’s a walnut box. It’s for writers. It isn’t cheap, but it’s cool, and you can feel DISTINGUISHED as you get it out at your local Starbucks, light up a meerschaum pipe, and begin constructing your next bestseller. I snark, but it is a nice box. (The company also makes a lot of nice pen/pencil cases, too.)
A candle: “Smells like Writer in this bitch.“
Vase: “Girls who don’t read are skanks.“
Mug: “Fucking great author.”
OKAY THAT IS IT.
Buy my books, leave me a review, put chocolate near my mouth and a bottle of gin in my hand, please and thank you.