September 2020 | Rebecca Rego Barry

Timeless and Timely Bookish Gifts

Courtesy of Princeton Architectural Press

In recent weeks, several bookish items that seem unusually attuned to the times in which we are living have come to our attention. Any of them would make a perfect gift for a fellow bibliophile, or frankly for yourself if you need an autumnal treat of the not-pumpkin-spice variety.

Social distancing being what it is, handwritten notes are a safe and mindful way to communicate with friends and family, particularly those who may be elderly, compromised, or alone (and bonus points for supporting the USPS while you’re at it). The “Classic Paperbacks” notecards pictured above, featuring gouache portraits of vintage paperbacks by Richard Baker, are truly miniature works of art. Produced by Princeton Architectural Press (PAP), the box contains twelve cards with twelve different designs—among them Mrs. Dalloway, The Wizard of Oz, and Dubliners—for $16.95. 

Courtesy of Princeton Architectural Press

PAP has also parlayed Baker’s art into a sweet “Classic Paperbacks" memory game, which I don’t mind sharing, was a saving grace on some nights during quarantine. The classic matching game remains a serene pastime, all the more so when you get to gaze upon interesting book covers the whole time. The game contains fifty-two cards (twenty-six pairs), showcasing the books of Emily Dickinson, Mark Twain, George Orwell, and Susan Sontag, among others, for $19.95. Said Baker of the books he chose for the project: "Books come to stand for various episodes of our lives, for certain idealisms, follies of belief, moments of love. They accumulate our marks, our stains, our innocent abuses--they come to wear our experiences of them on their covers and bindings like wrinkles on our skin."

If games aren’t your thing—perhaps puzzles are? Puzzles have certainly made a comeback in recent months, and the creative folks at Litographs, which began with literary-themed T-shirts and expanded into an empire of bookish apparel and furnishings, have you covered.

Courtesy of Litographs

And speaking of covered … face coverings, our necessary new accessory in the age of Covid-19, are also now offered by Litographs. Masks with quotes; masks featuring shelves of colorful books; masks that make it look as though your mouth is shield by a page of typewritten text. Why not? Each mask is reusable and costs $14.99. The “Science Fiction” shelf mask is pictured here.

Lastly, the DIY Miniature Bookstore Kit from Signals, priced at $39.95, might be a good way to channel your inner bookseller by building dollhouse-sized shelves and stocking them with miniature books, all made with the wood, cloth, paper, glue, and paint supplied in the kit. According to its developer, it should take twenty hours to assemble. It might be a long winter, right? Check out this one-minute video recreation: