Book Fetish

Only Slightly Foreboding: Aesthetic Dark Academia Gifts

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Kelly Jensen


Kelly is a former librarian and a long-time blogger at STACKED. She's the editor/author of (DON'T) CALL ME CRAZY: 33 VOICES START THE CONVERSATION ABOUT MENTAL HEALTH and the editor/author of HERE WE ARE: FEMINISM FOR THE REAL WORLD. Her next book, BODY TALK, will publish in Fall 2020. Follow her on Instagram @heykellyjensen.

Have you fallen down the rabbit hole of all things dark academia? If you haven’t, a quick and dirty primer: dark academia is an aesthetic encompassing higher education, the arts, writing, poetry, and gothic design. Readers who love dark academia love books set in boarding schools or universities, with an underpinning of magic, intrigue, and a foreboding mood. The aesthetic and desire to lean into dark academia has had fair criticism, though, particularly as it can be very white. But more and more people of color are finding themselves speaking up about the whiteness, helping to add more realism to the world of school halls and gothic columns. It only seems right for readers — who are gifted with an array of awesome dark academia book options — to also seek out some fun dark academia gifts.

Part of the aesthetic is curating it, both online and off, and these fun aesthetic dark academia gifts will help make your interests even more clear. You will notice, of course, in items relating to books that they lean toward being far less inclusive than the sub-genre of literature truly is. This is, as always, due to who gets bigger marketing budgets and thus, more attention and more potential fandoms dedicated to them.

Bookish Dark Academia Gifts for Lovers of the Aesthetic

Image of wooden bookmark with bookshelves full of dark academia books.

Your books will get in on the aesthetic with this dark academia bookmark made of wood and comprised of books loved by fans. $7

Image of black library candle.

Your space needs to smell like the style, too, and this library scented candle will do the trick. $14

Black and white image of a girl surrounded by books.

Put this “Bury Me in Books” print in a vintage frame for an even more gothic feel. $15

Image of gray sweatshirt featuring Mary Shelley's Frankenstein quote "Beware; for I am fearless, and therefore powerful."

One of the things about this aesthetic that I really like is how cozy it is and how much autumn flavor there is. Carry that on you with this Frankenstein sweatshirt. $32

Image of red book cover style tote bag

Inspired by the cloth covers of old books, this tote bag is a knockout. $25 and up

Image of black typewriter pin with white paper. text on paper reads "storyteller."

For the writer side of dark academia, this storyteller enamel pin is a must. $10

Image of book-shaped locket.

Don a book locket ’round your neck. $27

Image of green mushroom wooden bookmark

Mushrooms are perfectly aesthetic, too, and this handmade mushroom bookmark will be perfect inside whatever tome you’re reading. $9.50

Image of green notebook made from recycled old book cover.

Upgrade your notebook collection to include this blank notebook with a cover which makes it look like an old book. $13

Image of eight different dictionary pages inside a necklace pendant.

These dictionary page pendants are just *chef’s kiss*. $30, with a number of page/definition choices

Image of a brown shirt reading "knowledge and wisdom," with a greek figure in the middle.

Honor knowledge and wisdom with this Greek statue tee, available in a few colors. $25 and up

Image of The Secret History mug with character names.

If you love The Secret History, then you know this mug is a winner. $21

Image of brown pillow reading "book lovers never go to bed alone."

Book lovers never go to bed alone, especially with this pillow. $17 and up

Image of brown wooden pin in the shape of a book.

Pop this wooden spell book pin on your sweater, sweater vest, or tote bag. $8

Image of a cream sweatshirt reading "In Libris Libertas."

What’s more dark academia than a sweatshirt proclaiming in books, freedom, but in Latin? $20 and up

Image of small red journal on a keychain.

Carry this little leather journal with you wherever you go, as it’ll hang right on your keys with you. $16

Image of a phone case featuring an old book spine design.

Though much of the aesthetic is about avoiding technology, if one must have their phone, it should have an old book case. $30, with different phone options

Image of a cream colored tote defining "Dark academia."

Use this tote and never answer the question of what dark academia is again. $18

Image of two petrified wood bookends.

And the best way to show off your collection of books fitting your aesthetic? These gorgeous petrified wood bookends. $172