Beyond The Book: Some Unusual Gift Ideas For Word Freaks

Yes. Today is already December 18. And you know what that means: Hanukkah is only two nights away! Also, Christmas is in a week. Are you still looking for last-minute gifts for those in your life who love words? Sure, since they are probably avid readers, you could always get them books. But—hello?—don’t you think they already have books?? I mean, come on. Besides, if you are looking for hardbacks, paperbacks, and Kindle credits to put under the tree, in a stocking, or wherever your family happens to put these things, expert contributors on this site have offered excellent advice here, here, here, and here.

But if you’re looking for a more unorthodox suggestion—something off the page and also, perhaps, completely off the wall (and, in at least one case, on it), here are a few different ideas, any of which can be on its way to your beloved word-lover with a few clicks on the “Word” Wide Web…


Applications Accepted

Words With Friends may be grabbing all the headlines (for all the wrong reasons), but the Scrabble imitation is hardly the only app out there for your friends who love words. So get the word freak in your life an Apple Store gift card (it will help if they already have an iPhone or iPad) and let ‘em have at it. From WordSnake to Wordigo, there are dozens of options, many of them, like, good. Here are some suggestions from the aptly (and app-ly) named


Hang It Up

Now you—or the lucky ones on your gift list—can capture an entire literary classic with one glance from across the room. At, you can order a 2-foot-by-3-foot poster created from the text of a great novel, say, War and Peace (yes, in this version, it’s only one page long), with a memorable image from the narrative. Little Women, Heart of Darkness, The Wizard of Oz (right), A Tale of Two Cities, and dozens of others are also available. A word-picture of The Picture of Dorian Gray would be particularly meta, no?


Horn Of Plenty

It could be your niece, your brother-in-law, your neighbor, your orthopedist—there is someone on your list who is simply obsessed with words and unicorns. Am I right? (Of course.) And every year, it’s the same conundrum: What in Anne’s Green Gables are you supposed to get them? Thankfully, your prayers (and curses) are answered: The Unicorn Lover Magnetic Poetry Kit. The promotional copy needs no embellishment:

The mystery and magic surrounding this mythical steed is legendary. Imagine what you would do if you ever encountered a unicorn. Watch from a distance and admire its grace and beauty or befriend it and ask for a ride? Now you can piece the action together with our Unicorn Lover Magnetic Poetry Kit and sparkle with unicorn spirit! Feel the strength of purity and innocence…

And hey! It also comes in a Pirate version.


What’s In A Name?

“GARY BERT MOSS” has all the letters you need to spell “ABORTERS.” Nice.

What is your name worth? In a game of Scrabble, perhaps more than you think…  The Personalized Name Word List is a formatted record of 60 of the highest-scoring words made up from the letters in any specified name. It will arrive framed, suitable for hanging, and “guaranteed to be a conversation starter.” (Sample conversation start: “What the…?”) People with relatively short names are encouraged to include their middle names so as to give the list-maker more to work with (see example at right). A great gift for Uncle Jxqjzxqz!


Boggle Is For Wimps

Marketed as “the world’s toughest language game,” MooT is a board/card game with more than 1,000 extremely difficult questions about the grammar, semantics, or etymology of the English language. (Sample question: “You have the same mother but not the same father. Are you siblings?” Answer here.) It promises to teach writers, and readers, a thing or two, and will make even the most hardnosed copyeditor cry (with glee).


Brenda’s Adventures In Wonderland

Okay, so this last one is actually a book—a “novel” idea sure to offend the literary purists in your midst while delighting your favorite, literature-savvy megalomaniac. Personalized Classics offers the chance to see your name and the names of those closest to you as the lead characters of the written masterpiece of your choice. Think Romeo and Jessica or Dave Quixote. All you have to do is send in the name(s), and they’ll do all the find-and-replace for you. As the gift-giver, you can even add your name to the author page: Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain and Cousin Marsha. It’s just so wrong!


Victor Wishna’s work has appeared in the Wall Street Journal, the Baltimore Sun, the New York Post, NPR,, and others. His writing and editing services firm, The Vital Word helps find the right words for nonprofit, corporate, and individual clients. Follow him on Twitter: @vwishna.