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Holiday Gift Ideas for Lit Lovers

The holidays are coming and along with all the sleigh bell jinglin’ and hall decking comes the stress of finding the perfect gifts for your loved ones. Should you get your cousin Jay another fancy bottle of gin? Does Aunt Marge really want another framed photo of her bulldogs? And what to give that book loving niece/nephew (or sister, brother, mother, father, husband, wife, child) of yours? Another generic gift card? NO! Let us help!

Here at Writers & Books, we are all book lovers (duh) and we do enjoy a good book as a gift. A gift certificate is also fun as it allows us the freedom to choose a book that suits our fancy. But there are lots of fun, quirky, and cool gifts that you can give your literary loved one this holiday season (or yourself! Don’t ever forget to #treatyoself)!

Wearable Literature by Storiarts on Etsy: 

Pride and Prejudice Book Scarf

For the stylish literati in your life.

Creative Bookends from Design My World
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For the literati with a sense of humor.


A Literati T-Shirt from Writers & Books:


Nothing says “proud to be a lover of words” like a shirt that literally says you are proud to be a lover of words.


Paper Passion Perfume from Steidlville

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Love getting a whiff of old books? Now you can smell like them! 

A Really Nice Pen from ParadisePen: 

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Who knows…your gift could write the next Great American Novel.


An EvenOdd  Recycled Vinyl Bag from Writers & Books: 


Even Odd Vinyl Bags

How about a Writers & Books vinyl tote bag? Even Odd creative fabrics has taken our past event banners (including “Big Read” and “Fall Festival of Reading”) and made them into one of a kind bags!


Bookshelf from Ikea

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Who doesn’t need more room for all those books?


A TypeWriter for iPads from Austin Yang:

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The perfect blend of tradition and technology.


Literary Shoes by CustomMadeKylee on Etsy: 
Edgar Allan Poe "The Raven" Poetry Flats - Made to Order

These shoes were made for walking…and reading.


A Turning Pages Readers Circle Membership from Writers & Books: 


Turning Pages Readers Circle is a new level of membership and a unique way of discovering books while also supporting Writers & Books programming. Four times a year a book will arrive in your mailbox, each one selected by someone intimately involved with the literary world. Specially wrapped by our staff, the package comes with a note from an author affiliated with Writers & Books (previous contributors include Ann Patchett & Anne Panning) as to why they picked this book to share, and an invite to a special readers event surrounding the text. The Turning Pages Readers Circle Membership is a great gift for the reader in your family!


Throw Pillow from Twirlocity on Etsy

book lover graphic throw pillow cover, decorative throw pillow cover

Nothing like snuggling up with a good book on a comfy pillow.


Book Jewelry on Etsy: 

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Loving literature has never been so chic.


Shakespeare Phone Case from CafePress:

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To text or not to text, that is the question.


A Gift Certificate for a Writers & Books Class:


We give classes for creative readers and writers ages 5-105. Check out our winter catalog here and give the reader or writer in your life, the gift of our creative community. 


Literary Mugs from The Literary Gift Company

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If you know a reader or writer, then you know a coffee/tea addict. Let them sip in style with these awesome mugs.


Literary T-Shirt or Sweater from OutofPrintClothing:

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Eat, sleep, read, and wear literary clothing.


Happy Holidays! 

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Giving Thanks

I don’t know about all of you, but here at Writers & Books, we get pretty into the holidays. Between our seasonal decorations which garnish our halls, lobby, and classrooms, our holiday party, and holiday greeting card, I guess you could say we do it the right way.

This year though, the “Thanksgiving experience” seems a little different, for me at least. It’s come late in the month, it’s falling on the same day as Hanukkah, and the first real snow fall happened just a few days prior. Tack on all of the Christmas commercials and advertising that we’re already drowning in, it seems to me that Thanksgiving is getting the short end of the stick (I started listening to Christmas music last week…yes, I am that person.) The fact that Thanksgiving seems to be losing a lot of the hype this year is a real shame because besides granting me copious amounts of stuffing, it grants me the opportunity to reflect on and enjoy what I am thankful for. (Such a corny, overdone concept, I know. But…it’s the truth, isn’t it?)

Well luckily for me (and all of you!) the staff here at Writers & Books took some time to think about and share some of the things of literary nature we are most thankful for this year. I suggest you take a minute to do the same. Be it a book, a teacher, a favorite reading spot, or a favorite literary character, perhaps it would do you some good to pause amidst the chaos that tomorrow and the rest of the holiday season brings and think about what and why you love to read and write.

As for me? I came across mine this past weekend at my niece’s first birthday party. After the dinner and dessert and gift opening, all of which were events of their own, my older niece, Hayleigh, asked me to read to her. (If you’ve read some the previous blogs, you may remember one about the importance of reading to children.) After reading the book, I suggested that we go through it slowly so that she could learn the words and start to read herself. Watching her try to sound out the words, recognize the letters, and then seeing how her face lit up when she “did it” was a truly magical experience. By the end of the half hour or so, she could “read” the line “One pretty princess puts on her crown”. I’m pretty sure she had memorized it, but how could I even care when she was so proud of herself? When she finally accomplished it she jumped in my lap and gave me a huge hug…and then there was “I did it! I did it! I’m so happy!” Between this and the “Rylie taught me how to read!” that preceded her nearly showing everyone in the room, what more do I need? Not too much. Not too much at all.

Keep reading to see what other members of the staff are counting as some of their blessings. Oh! And Happy Thanksgiving to all of you and your families. Stay thankful, stay safe, and stay …reading?

I’m thankful for finally catching the White Whale.
One of the offerings in our Fall catalog was a Moby Dick reading seminar, taught by a former professor of mine at St. John Fisher College, David Sanders. I had throughly enjoyed his class and had never challenged myself to read this particular “Great American Novel”.
There were 7 of us enrolled in the class. It ran for 8 weeks and wrapped up just before Thanksgiving. We had such good conversation that I never wanted it to end (though some of the chapters regarding whale anatomy were a bit trying)
I am so grateful for the experience I had with this group and this book. Maybe I’ll try Lolita next.

— Chris Fanning

“I am thankful for programs like Calibre that let me read all my different ebooks right on my computer.”

— Greer Nelson

“I am thankful for those books that I read out loud with my father — The Phantom Tollbooth, The Narnia series, the Madeline L’Engle books… I am thankful to my father for reading them to me. There is nothing more special than reading books with a parent. Now, as a parent myself, I am thankful that my daughter loves to snuggle up and read books too.”

— Alexa Scott-Flaherty

“Happy Thanksgiving to all! I’m thankful for the wide selection of tasteful Thanksgiving recipes to choose from — from family recipes, to traditional “Betty Crocker” recipes, and online recipes, especially “” It’s incorporating family traditions & creating new ones. I’ve spent the past weekend pouring over cookbooks, online recipes, and remembering how my aunt prepared her turkey. This is my first Thanksgiving without her – here’s to you Auntie!”

— Kathy Pottetti

“I’m thankful for Sonja Livingston’s memoir, ghostbread. This is an incredible story of the trials, tribulations, delights and ultimately survival of a girl growing up in poverty in western New York with her six siblings, their single mother, and not one of their fathers present. A good portion of the book takes place in Rochester, and so that connection is a gem. What really makes the book stand out above other memoirs is the structure in which it is written. Each chapter is quite short. Many do not even fill one page. And yet they are each powerful stories that could stand on their own, but instead weave together to tell a larger story. And the language is gorgeous. Clean and thrift, but with riveting images. What makes me most grateful for ghostbread, however, is the effect it had on me and the timing in which I read it. As I began reading it, I thought, Wow! I think I would enjoy writing a memoir! What an amazing series of nuggets all strung together! This, coming from me, who had never considered herself anything other than a poet. And then, Too bad I don’t have anything to write a memoir about. And then I had a life-altering experience. My young son was diagnosed with a condition that would change the course of all of our lives. This happened when I was about three-quarters of the way through reading ghostbread. I knew immediately that I would write a memoir. Indeed, four years later, I am slowly but surely working on a book. Many thanks to Sonja for the inspiration!

*Note: ghostbread is available for purchase in the Writers & Books bookstore. ”

— Sally Bittner Bonn

“I am thankful for my wonderful, hard working staff at Writers & Books. I can’t imagine a better collection of individuals who are intent on doing the best job possible serving the literary community of Rochester, and having a great time while doing it. I raise a drum stick and a glass of Riesling to toast them. ”

— Joe Flaherty

Happy Turkey Day everyone! Gobble gobbgle!

The W&B staff

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Writers & Books Holiday Gift Ideas

Calling all last minute shoppers and local gift lovers!

Have you been too overwhelmed this holiday season to make a list and check it twice? Do you love gifts that help support literacy, creativity, and the local community? Then we’ve got some perfect gifts for your family and friends! Let us be your “one-stop-shop” this holiday season with these awesome gifts:

Writers & Books Vinyl Bags

Even Odd Vinyl Bags

How about a Writers & Books vinyl tote bag? Even Odd creative fabrics has taken our past event banners and made them into one of a kind bags. Hang a Big Read or Fall Festival of Reading bag from your mantle. $35.00.



Turning Pages Readers Circle Membership


Turning Pages Readers Circle is an excellent gift for the reader in your family. TPRC is our newest membership level – those enrolled receive a “mystery” book 4 times a year. Specially wrapped by our staff, the package comes with a note from an author affiliated with Writers & Books (previous contributors include Ann Patchett & Anne Panning) as to why they picked this book to share, and an invite to a special readers event surrounding the text. Members of the TPRC rave: “I was so impressed and delighted with the thoughtfulness and care that went into this…obviously, this was done with dedication and appreciation and gratitude. I feel richly rewarded already.” $250.00


Limited Edition Writers & Books Pens

photo-2Need a little extra to add to a gift? A stocking stuffer? Might we suggest a Writers & books pen? $2.00




New Writers & Books t-shirts 

Literati t-shirtOur latest W&B swag! The front reads “literati” along with a dictionary definition while the back has our beautiful new logo! Grab one while they last and show off your support of Rochester’s only literary center! $12.00


Writers & Books Memberships & Gift Certificates.

IMGP3146Unsure of which workshop to sign someone up for? Set a dollar amount and let them choose! We can print and adjust gift certificates for any amount. Or give them the gift that last the whole year long, a Writers & Books membership! Student level memberships start at just $25. Call 473-2590 ext 107 for more information on membership levels.
All above items are available in our bookstore – check our holiday hours and come on in to find a literary gift for the bibliophile on your list. And don’t forget – after the stress of the holiday season, you deserve to “treat yo’ self” too!


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World Book Night 2014 Giver Applications

WBN2014_ApplyAd_300x250Want to be a World Book Night book giver on April 23, 2014, in support of literacy and community? It’s Shakespeare’s birthday and 25,000 volunteers will go out on one day and give a half million specially-printed paperbacks to light or non-readers across America. Apply to be a book giver! Go to, read up on the guidelines and list of books, and then apply!

2014 Book List

The Zookeeper’s Wife by Diane Ackerman

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews

Zora and Me by Victoria Bond & T.R. Simon

Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain

The Weird Sisters by Eleanor Brown

The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

After the Funeral by Agatha Christie

The Ruins of Gorlan: The Ranger’s Apprentice, Book 1 by John Flanagan

Hotel at the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford

Hotel at the Corner of Bitter and Sweet (Large Print edition) by Jamie Ford

The Lighthouse Road by Peter Geye

The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell

Wait Till Next Year by Doris Kearns Goodwin

Catch-22 by Joseph Heller

The Dog Stars by Peter Heller

Hoot by Carl Hiaasen

Pontoon by Garrison Keillor

Same Difference by Derek Kirk Kim

Enchanted by Alethea Kontis

Miss Darcy Falls in Love by Sharon Lathan

Bobcat and Other Stories by Rebecca Lee

Young Men and Fire by Norman Maclean

Tales of the City by Armistead Maupin

Waiting to Exhale by Terry McMillan

Sunrise Over Fallujah by Walter Dean Myers

Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson

The Botany of Desire by Michael Pollan

The Raven’s Warrior by Vincent Pratchett

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

When I was Puerto Rican by Esmeralda Santiago

Cuando Era Puertorriqueña by Esmeralda Santiago

Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple

Where’d You Go, Bernadette (Large Print edition) by Maria Semple

Wild by Cheryl Strayed

Presumed Innocent by Scott Turow

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein

This Boy’s Life by Tobias Wolff

100 Best-Loved Poems edited by Philip Smith


For more information on the program and how Writers & Books is involved in WBN, e-mail

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Big Pencil Interviews

 Big Pencil Honorees 2013

The 2013 Big Pencil Award ceremony has come and gone, but you can still get to know some of our honorees. We sat down and talked with them and you can stream or download these interviews. We talked about important books, writing habits, teaching habits, and their stories of growing up with words and writing. Take a listen below!


Donna M. Marbach:  A  teacher of young people who has inspired the creation and appreciation of literature.


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Pat Braus on behalf of Give Back, Give Books: An organization that has made significant contributions to the Rochester literary community.


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Mary Widger: An individual who has made significant contributions to Writers & Books.


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Steven Huff: An individual who has made lifelong contributions to Rochester’s literary community.


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Greg Gerard: A teacher of adults who has inspired the creation and appreciation of literature.


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