Your 2023 Short Story Nerd Gift Guide

There is nothing like finding a gift so niche that the giftee doesn’t realize until they open it that it is the only thing they actually wanted. But unless you are a story nerd yourself, it is challenging to achieve this level of Santadom. It might be helpful to get some inside advice from someone in the know (me, I’m the (answer to your) problem). So, here are my top 10 gift ideas for your story loving nerd (yes Ma, this is my Christmas list).

Legend: $ 20 or less, $$ 50 or less, $$$ 50 or more. Also, I am not an affiliate for any products in this post—I just want my mom to buy them for me.

1. Subscription to a literary magazine ($ – $$$) The gift that GIVES. Literary voices are being silenced all over the damn place (RIP Gettysburg Review). So, to ensure that your nerd always has somewhere to submit to, get them a subscription to their favourite, or a new-to-them, magazine. They get a present, the magazine gets a present—erbody wins! If your nerd is very nerdy for the short story form, I recommend the Journal of the Short Story in English (JSSE) ironically out of L’Université Rennes in France. It is a very satisfying “biannual journal entirely devoted to the short story, edited by a team of international specialists who select articles according to the “double-blind review” principle with the aim of encouraging the broadest possible spectrum of analytical literary approaches.” Swoon.

2. A short story writer postage stamp collection ($) You probably remember Margaret Atwood getting her own stamp in 2021, and if you follow Nobel Prize news, you might even remember Alice Munro’s stamp from 2013. What you might not know is that there is a whole splinter group of philatelists who collect literary stamps. And if you do a bit of research, you can find dozens of stamps honouring short story writers for less than $5 each. Imagine giving your nerd a framed collection of their favourite authors in stamp form! (I’ve got Margaret, Alice, and Toni Morrison, Ma.)

3. Random used short story collections ($) A few years ago, my mom started looking around at thrift stories for random short story collections (and found some of them for a dollar or less!). Then, every time she’d see me during the month of December, she gave me one to open, like an advent calendar. The ones she had left at Christmas, she wrapped up for under the tree. By far one of the most thoughtful gifts I’ve ever received and I look forward to it every year.

4. Book Outlet Haul ($ – $$$) If you’ve never shopped (again, not an affiliate), you’re going to love it. They have a huge selection of backlisted books, both paperback and hardcover for a fraction of what new releases cost. And their short story selection is pretty darn good: right now they’ve got collections by Ling Ma, Alan Moore, Ursula K. Le Guin, Langston Hughes, George Saunders, Gabriel García Márquez, Flannery O’Connor and loads more. (A search for “Stories” gives pretty good results.)

5. The Alice Munro coin ($$ – $$$) When Alice Munro won the 2013 Nobel Prize in Literature for her mastery of the contemporary short story, the Canadian Mint honoured her with a commemorative silver coin. My mom bought me this a couple years ago and I can attest that the writing upon it is a legible passage from her story “Messanger” (collected in The View from Castle Rock). Be still my literary heart! The Mint no longer sells them, but you can find them in coin shops and on eBay for $35 or more.

6. Individually published stories ($ – $$$) In the old days, short stories were regularly published solo. These days, stories mostly start in magazines or anthologies, and are eventually put in collections by the author, but every once in a while a publisher will do a special edition. Bloomsbury did a whole set called the Bloomsbury Birthday Quids, which are out of print but available through used stores. More commonly, you can find electronic or audio editions, like “Choice” by Jodi Picoult, a timely release from when Roe v Wade was overturned in the US (available only on Audible).

7. Miniature Books ($$$) Before you proceed I must warn you that miniature books can lead to other miniature things, like trains. Both are expensive. In all seriousness though, the 5 x 4 cm hard cover version of Short Stories by Nathaniel Hawthorne with its tiny ribbon bookmark and MATCHING SLIPCOVER from Gutenberg Shop might be the pinnacle of self-similar. Gah.

8. Custom Lego Portrait ($$$) What would a gift list be without a LEGO option? Custom LEGO portraits take your image and convert it to a paint-by-number-esque pattern that you can build with the 4702 piece Mosaic Maker LEGO set. Imagine converting your nerd’s favourite book cover or author portrait into a displayable LEGO creation? Yes please.

9. The Yellow Wallpaper Creeping ($ – $$$) Get @mattdoug’s gorgeous artistic interpretation of The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman printed on pretty much any product in Redbubble’s inventory. (I’m partial to the small-sized prints myself, Ma.)

10. The Obligatory Notebook ($$) If your nerd doesn’t have a collection of notebooks that are too special to use, are they really a writer? This one from Zazzle can be customized to read “Short Stories by [Nerd’s Name],” you can choose the inside paper design, and even indicate the volume number at the bottom of the cover in case this form of documentation becomes a habit. More than likely though, it will be so beloved that it never gets used.

To the lovers of short story nerds, I hope this list helps you unlock levels of gift giving you feared impossible. And Ma, don’t worry about leaning on a gift list this year—fighting that lady for my Cabbage Patch Kid in 1983 granted you a lifetime of gift-giving leisure.

(That’s a lie. In true mom fashion, she arrived early, got the doll and got out before she had to throw down. No mom’s were hurt in the making of this post.)

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top