An annual subscription to a publication or service is a gift that lasts all year. Plus, ’tis the season for discount offers that slash cover prices and include swag that makes you or your gift recipient look classy and smart (tote bags, anyone?). Give the gift of reading and professional development to the writers and book lovers in your life. Here are 12 that make my wish list, divided into three categories:
1-4. Don’t grill the young writers in your family about their career choices. Instead, give them the tools they need to succeed.
5-8. For readers and writers alike: Keep them up-to-date on the latest top sellers and award-winners, and engaged with the issues driving the best current reads.
9-12. Remember Belle‘s reaction to the Beast’s library in Disney’s Beauty and the Beast? Access to great reads is a simple, but much appreciated gift.
Read on, Santa!
1. Poets & Writers
This is my personal favorite. It has literary leanings, so it’s ideal for the creative writer who wants to publish poetry, fiction, or literary nonfiction. There’s practical advice regarding agents and editors, and every issue contains a list of contests, deadlines, grants, fellowships, conferences, and other such ways to get cash or recognition for your art.
2. Writer’s Digest
Writer’s Digest is, well, a lot to digest. It contains all the things we wish we learned about the industry in college or trade school, so that we can actually get a writing job on the other side instead of hoping that someone will pay us to come up with pithy essay titles.
3. The Writer
This is a great one for writers who are starting their careers. While Poets & Writers often covers topics for more experienced professionals, and Writer’s Digest offers such a large volume of information that it could overwhelm a rookie, The Writer covers the basics. They also run their own writing contest.
4. The Writer’s Market
Owned by the same group that publishes Writer’s Digest, this web service focuses on landing jobs and selling work. A subscription provides users with an account where they can save and organize jobs, view thousands of listings, and read articles for professional development. If a digital gift feels unsatisfying to you, the annual reference volume of the same name is also a good gift for the recent graduate (I personally don’t buy a new one every year, though).
5. The New York Review of Books
The reviews in NYRB are in-depth and timely. These aren’t your Joe Amazon reviews that come with one- to five-star ratings. Contributors generally review a handful of books on a given topic, comparing and providing context. The topics are split between current political events and more niche articles focused on specific writers, artists, and historical figures.
6. Literary Review
Similar to the New York Review of Books in scope and prestige, you may have heard of this magazine thanks to its publication of the Bad Sex in Fiction Awards. Perks of magazines in this genre include reviews so in-depth you feel like you’ve read those books that you don’t have time to read, and advertisements featuring books that will end up on your wish list.
7. The Times Literary Supplement
Read anything good lately? If so, the cover or inset pages probably include glowing praise from The Times Literary Supplement. Published weekly, these thoughtful and well-researched pieces introduce plenty of good reads to subscribers (and are, in themselves, good reads).
8. Kirkus Reviews
This one is especially helpful for booksellers, librarians, and educators. Each bi-weekly issue contains over 200 reviews, organized by genre and sub-genre to help you navigate according to your needs and interests.
9. The Paris Review
Literary journals are the niche publications for readers and writers, curating the highest quality poetry and prose from contemporary and historical contributors. There are so many, from the illustrious to the obscure, the short-lived to the legacies. This is one of the best-known and most highly praised. For more ideas, check out this top 50 list.
10. Lapham’s Quarterly
Its focus is history, but its contributors are often literary. Each issue focuses on a theme and contains writing from the likes of Shakespeare, Mark Twain, and Joan Didion, in addition to philosophers and historians through the ages.
11. Kindle Unlimited
I signed up for a 30-day free trial expressly for the purpose of re-reading the Harry Potter series. There are so many wonderful titles available to Kindle Unlimited subscribers that the subscription should soon pay for itself. Books can be read on any device with the Kindle app installed (read: you don’t need to buy a Kindle), and eBooks come with their audiobook counterparts.
Like e-books, audiobooks are now an established and convenient medium. An Audible subscription provides access to a digital collection of over 180,000 books read by professional readers. Your loved one can listen without having to worry about scratching a CD, taking a trip to the library, or purchasing a physical audiobook. Membership perks include one free audiobook per month and 30% off additional purchases.
Don’t let graduation leave your beloved writers and readers high and dry. These gifts are as good as or better than professional networking, and indeed can lead to exposure and connections. Ho ho ho!
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