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Christmas Gift Ideas for Really Smart People | 2010 Edition

You need a gift for someone smart, someone who wants to know about everything – what happened, how it works, why it all got started. Fortunately, the globally curious have a lot of hobbies which makes them kind of easy to shop for, even if you don’t always remember to sleep and eat.  Below are some ideas for the smart people in your life.  If you are looking for something not so elitist, check out my other Christmas Gift Guides.

Sangean WR-11 AM/FM Table Top Radio :: CBC Radio and NPR sounds so much more profound coming from a wooden radio.  Speaking from personal experience, there is something about sitting around a radio on a hot summer day, sipping iced tea, while reading a good magazine.

Your own personal card cataloging system :: It seems like book thieves are everywhere these days. Even your closest friends will try to keep your rare, out-of-print novels if you don’t keep an eye on them. And no one really wants to pay $60 for another one. Thankfully, there now is a solution to your book-losing woes. The Personal Library Kit provides everything you need for keeping track of books, and an eye on those shameful book thieves.  Of course card cataloging your books is only half the battle, keeping them organized is the second half.  Sure you could use LibraryThing but check out this old school way of keeping your cards organized.

Amazon Kindle with Wifi | I wasn’t convinced that I needed or wanted an Amazon Kindle until the Kindle 3 came out.  First of all the hardware is amazing; one month of battery life, wifi, built in web browser, support for Instapaper… The other reason is that you don’t even need a Kindle to read Kindle books…Amazon has readers for the iPad, iPhone, Android devices, Blackberry, WinPhone 7, Windows, and OS X.  It has killer multi-platform support.  Since it sync’s up across platforms, I can sneak a couple of pages in while I am work, while waiting at the doctors and resume reading when I get home that night.  The best book is the one that’s always with you While it’s not a iPad, it’s not just a book reader either.  You can also get any number of newspapers on your Kindle, delivered daily…

  1. The New York Times ($19.99/month)
  2. International Herald Tribune ($19.99/month)
  3. The Globe and Mail ($15.99/month)
  4. National Post ($14.99/month)
  5. The Washington Post ($23.99/month)
  6. The StarPhoenix ($13.99/month)
  7. USA Today ($23.99/month)
  8. Slate ($8.99/month)
  9. The Financial Times ($27.99/month)

There is also magazines like Time ($3/month), The Atlantic Monthly ($2.49), Foreign Policy($3.49), among many others.  $139 from Amazon

Parker Sonnet Fountain Pen | Inspired by AKMA’s posts on fountain pens, may I suggest a Parker Sonnet fountain pen as a great gift for that special person.  At $75 it isn’t inexpensive but it won’t break the bank either.   This Sonnet has a stainless steel finish with a mineral metallic luster. The metal has been brushed to create a light texture effect but polished for a smooth touch. It has a 23 carat gold plated body trim and 23 carat gold plated stainless steel nib. The nib is decorated with a lattice work pattern and stamped with the Parker name. Different body finishes and nib sizes available to suit your style. This pen comes with a built-in converter and one black ink cartridge. $75 from Jet Pens

Moleskine Large Notebook | The Moleskine Large Notebook is made with top quality heavy paper and is perfect for on the go notes.  Every Moleskine product is thread bound and has a cardboard bound cover with rounded corners acid free paper a bookmark an elastic closure and an expandable inner pocket that contains the Moleskine history.  It will go perfect with a Parker Sonnet Fountain Pen| $12.21 from Amazon

Olivetti Manual Typewriter | If you want to have an old, classic feel when you are writing, you must check out the Olivetti Manual Typewriter. For fans of the vintage and things with an antique feel, you will definitely like this product. No electricity is needed with this manual typewriter so you can save on electricity costs. This particular style is the last manual typewriter available in the market today. This makes the Olivetti Manual Typewriter a collector’s item already. $105 from Amazon

A subscription to City Journal | City Journal is a quarterly magazine that focuses on urban policy.  Although the magazine is based in New York City, it covers issues of national scope.   It’s has a fiscally conservative point of view but chances are that whoever you are shopping for can figure that out by themselves.  $23 for four issues.

Sergio: One Man’s Fight to Save the World by Samantha Power | This is the best book I read in 2010.  The book is about Sergio Vieira de Mello’s who was a Brazilian United Nations diplomat who worked for the UN for more than 34 years, earning respect and praise around the world for his efforts in the humanitarian and political programs of the UN.  He was killed in the Canal Hotel Bombing in Iraq along with 20 other members of his staff on 19 August 2003 while working as the Secretary-General’s Special Representative in Iraq.  While the book was quite compelling, it has also been made into a HBO movie.  The book is $5.17 on Amazon.com and the DVD is available for $19.98 (in DVD-R format)

Homicide: A Year in the Killing Streets by David Simon | Another one of my favourite books of 2010.  David Simon, who was a reporter for The Baltimore Sun, spent four years on the police beat before taking a leave of absence to write this book. He had persuaded the Baltimore police department to allow him unlimited access to the city’s homicide unit for calendar year 1988, and throughout that year he shadowed one shift of detectives as they traveled from interrogations to autopsies, from crime scenes to hospital emergency rooms. Baltimore recorded 234 murders during the year Simon spent with the homicide unit. During the two years he spent writing Homicide, an additional 567 murders occurred.

Kodak Zi8 Video Camera | In case they are more interested creating content rather than just watching it, look at getting them a Kodak Zi8 camera.  It has a microphone jack which means that you can easily add an external 1/8 microphone for even better sound.    It allows you to record High Definition video (1080p at 30 fps with 16:9 aspect ratio) and comes with some half-decent editing software. Zi8 is $119 from Amazon.

Some recommended accessories for the Zi8

A Kiva Gift Card | Kiva empowers individuals to lend to an entrepreneur across the globe. By combining microfinance with the internet, Kiva is creating a global community of people connected through lending.  You can help someone get started by sending them a Kiva gift card ($25 minimum) which will allow them to get started and then make microloans to any project that they want to get behind.  Not only are you giving a unique gift this Christmas but you are helping change the life of numerous other people (as the loan is paid back, it can be lent out again and again).  They won’t be alone.  As of November 2009, Kiva has facilitated over $100 million in loans.

Final Draft 8 | If the person you are buying for is looking at creating a movie script or a screenplay, this software allows you to focus their creative energy to focus on the content; let Final Draft take care of the style. Final Draft is the number-one selling application specifically designed for writing movie scripts, television episodics and stage plays.  It combines powerful word processing with professional script formatting in one self-contained, easy-to-use package. There is no need to learn about script formatting rules–Final Draft automatically paginates and formats your script to industry standards as you write.  Calling it “a solid sequel to what has become the industry-standard screenwriting application,” Macworld magazine gives Final Draft 8 a rating of 4.5 mice out of 5. $149 from Amazon

If they are writing the great American novel and don’t seem too keen on using the Olivetti Manual Typewriter, check out WriteNow 4.  The software is compatible with Windows Mac OSX. With abundant personalized options, WriteItNow has perfected the art of allowing the writer to customize the interface to fit his or her writing needs. You can: (1) Drag scenes, chapters, events, and ideas to new locations; (2) View character relationships in web diagrams; (3) View story events in a sleek timeline; (4) Visualize layout with a flexible Story Board; and (5) Keep track of manuscript submissions. $69 via Amazon

If you can find what you are looking for, make sure you check out one of the other 2010 Christmas Gift Guides

In case you are looking, here are the 2009 Gift Guides

Christmas Gift Ideas and Gift GuidesIf I missed anything or if my suggestion made you think I was absolutely crazy, let me know in the comments. You can access the current edition and previous years list of Christmas gift guides here.

8 Comments

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  3. Ken says:

    I think you’ve sold me on a Kindle. I live in South America so it means my carry on wouldn’t weigh 200 lbs from books, every time I come back here from Canada. Any negatives?

    1. Well outside of the fact that I have to wait nine weeks for it to ship (I bought one for myself this week)… I have fooled around with them for a while and I really think it is superior to the Kobo and the Sony Reader. It’s not an iPad but it’s not $600 either. I really like it. It has a mediocre web browser built in which is a nice feature as long as you don’t expect too much from it (obviously no video or Flash support).

      1. Ken says:

        Thanks Jordan. Maybe I’ll order it now so it’ll be there when I go home in Feb. It’s good to know about the shipping delay…

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