Philosophers Gift Guide 2015

Philosophers Gift Guide 2015

Last year I waited until mid-December to post the gift guide and tons of philosophers missed out on pencil sharpeners because their loved ones had already bought them something else. I’m not going to make that mistake again. Today is”Cyber Monday,” a holiday that stretches back to the era before all of the marketing professionals who used the word “cyber” to describe what happens on the internet were fired—so what better day to post this?

What follows are some gift ideas that academics you know might appreciate. Of course, you might not want to buy these gifts for those people, in which case you can just forward this page to their (or your) friends and loved ones. (By the way, when you purchase something via one of the Amazon links in this post, that helps fund Daily Nous.)

First things first. If you don’t yet have it, the gift giving season is the perfect time for a free 30-day trial of Amazon Prime. Not only do you get free two-day shipping, but you also get a ton of free movies to watch when you are inside avoiding snow storms and holiday office parties.

What to watch those movies on? Your academic friend looks at a computer screen all day long. Give them a break, and consider a mini-projector. They range in price and quality but this one looks pretty good and has been well-reviewed. Unlike a lot of other pico-projectors, its image is projected with lasers (rather than LEDs).

I can’t help but feel that if every one in the profession got a copy of this, it would go a ways towards making things a bit better.

Now, in order to officially make it a tradition, here, again, are the pencil sharpeners: simple and sculptural, they give the desk-bound academic the experience of bare-handedly wielding a blade to carve wood—for work! 

After all of that woodworking your professor or graduate student might need a nap, and since office naps are the new standing at work, office pillows are the new standing desk. But why get an ordinary pillow when instead there is one that is cleverly disguised as a actually doubles as a tablet holder? It comes in a wide assortment of colors and seems like it would be good for travel on planes, too.

Speaking of travel: going places to give presentations? Like many academics, I use Power Point for talks, and when I do, I use this presentation remote—just plug the receiver into the computer’s USB port and it’s ready to go. The speaker is now free, untethered from the computer, and armed with a green laser. One’s ideas may be interesting, but one’s ideas plus a green laser are more interesting.

It will be winter soon, and in some places it is already cold. That green laser will not keep you warm. But these gloves will, and one can keep them on while using a phone or tablet to scroll through Daily Nous.

Keeping with the cold weather theme, while coffee is amazing, sometimes a different hot beverage is the perfect thing, and that different hot beverage is hot drinking chocolate. I’m not talking about that Swiss Miss pinkish-brown sugar marked “hot cocoa,” or even that Ghiradelli stuff which I suppose is good enough for young children. The drinking chocolate from L.A. Burdick is the real deal. Dark, not too sweet, and not for the kids. The one from Jacques Torres is very good, too.

If the academics in your life are very busy, and of course they are, they may have no time to cook a hot meal at the end of the day. Yes, there is always ramen (btw that’s the brand Serious Eats rates the best), but perhaps they would appreciate the culinary variety and convenience that a slow-cooker affords.

This isn’t seasonal, but still, it is nice to have one of these in the office, for stepping outside and tossing around some ideas with a colleague.

If there’s a slight chill in the air, your academics can combine professional style and college slouch with the academic hoodie. And if they also insist on carrying around their stuff in a backpack, you can get them a fancy one, like this.

Lastly, if you can’t figure out what to get someone, there is always the option of taking money that is good everywhere and turning it into money that can only be used at one place: the gift card.

Happy Holiday Gift Buying Season, readers. If you have other gift ideas, feel free to mention them in the comments.

Nietzsche Holiday 2

“I would not know what the spirit of a philosopher
might wish more to be than a good Dancer. Or
Dasher. Or Blitzen. Yes, let’s go with Blitzen.”


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David Wallace
David Wallace
8 years ago

I strongly recommend the Universe Splitter app ( for resolution of arbitrary decisions.

Friendly Undergrad
Friendly Undergrad
8 years ago

Last year someone gave me a beer glass with a picture of Nietzsche that said “God is Dead” on the side. It might be the best and most-used gift I’ve gotten in a long time.

Dale Miller
Reply to  Friendly Undergrad
8 years ago

Hopefully you’re drinking this from it:

Alfred MacDonald
8 years ago

I was skeptical going into this post, but some of these are actually great gifts and some of them I’m considering buying for myself — the pillow tablet holder specifically.

Here are some others:

Laptop stand. This is a useless gift if you already have something like this, but if you don’t, you won’t realize how much of a difference this makes in your life until you actually start using it. You’ll be able to work on a laptop comfortably in a lot of places you wouldn’t have before.

Portable mini-speaker. There are so many times when the sound on your laptop just isn’t loud enough and this makes a huge difference.

Computer reading glasses. Sounds ridiculous, but does what it’s supposed to do.

Alan White
Alan White
8 years ago

A student gave me some years ago. Oddly I haven’t opened the package, which raises meta-issues about exploring Nihilism.

8 years ago

Don’t forget Seeking Perfection: A Dialogue about the Mind, the Soul, and What It Means to Be Human
This imaginatively constructed tale will absorb those interested in what the philosophical masters might say about today’s world.

Andrew D. Chapman
Andrew D. Chapman
8 years ago

I’d rather receive a donation to a charity in my honor than just about anything that could be purchased for me:

Reply to  Andrew D. Chapman
7 years ago

Done. Happy holidays! (And happy belated birthday!)