Finding the perfect holiday gift can be maddening—is this the color they’d want? Is it something they already have? Is it so last year?—but really, once you have a sense of a person’s taste, it’s not impossible. This season, we’ll be talking to members of various tribes to find out exactly what to get that serious cook, or golf dad, or picky teen girl in your life. Think of it as a window into their brain trust—or, at least, a very helpful starting point. Today, nine self-proclaimed nerds (from a MacArthur genius to a comics historian) on the gifts they want for the holidays.
“Like everyone else, I always have too many tabs open in my browser, but I also have too many books open on my desk. One of these bamboo book stands would make my year. In fact, I think I need four (and a bigger desk).” —Mignon Fogarty, creator of Grammar Girl and founder of Quick and Dirty Tips
“When it’s winter (and to be honest, when the air conditioner is blasting in the summer), I always wish my office chair could feel like my heated seat in my car. Also, I think I have my best ideas when I’m warm and relaxed (my colleague used children’s washable bath crayons to write on the shower wall for this reason). So a big holiday wish would be for a heated office chair like this one.” —Betsy Levy Paluck, 2017 MacArthur “genius” fellow
“I want this awesome Game of Thrones cutting board, because I’m trying to cook at home more, and winter is coming, obviously!” —Stephanie Durkacz, scientist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
“In celebration of Jack Kirby’s centennial, the new edition of the Fourth World omnibus would be something amazing to have and display. The Fourth World omnibus is the largest single collection of Kirby’s Fourth World epic to ever be compiled together in one place. It’s all been published before, but broken up into volumes that are hard to track down and mostly out of print, so the chance to have it all in one giant tome is something I’d absolutely love to take advantage of. I’m a comics historian and journalist, so my interest in Kirby’s work runs deep, and the idea of getting to display it as a thousand-plus page hardcover is really exciting.” —Meg Downey, superhero fan who writes about superheroes and comics history at CBR.com and DCComics.com
“What If, from the creator of Xkcd Randall Munroe—a web comic geared toward physicists, computer scientists, and mathematicians—tries to answer ridiculous hypothetical questions with wit and accurate scientific information. I love this guy’s webcomics, and there’s nothing more nerdy than arguing over stupidly impossible hypothetical questions with real ire and intensity.” —Jeff Maltas, Ph.D. candidate in biophysics at the University of Michigan
“Also Bose QuietComfort 35 II headphones and an Audible subscription: I work a job where I spend many hours alone in a science lab with no windows. Audible is an amazing way to pass the time while getting work done, and the Bose QC 35 are a miracle: top-of-the-line noise-canceling, wireless headphones and amazing sound fidelity.” —Jeff Maltas
“Recordly is a University of Missouri–based startup offering transcription software for audio interviews conducted by researchers or journalists. At $2 per hour of recorded content, this is a gift I can actually afford to buy myself. Most human transcriptionists charge $25-plus per hour of work, meaning Recordly will help academics and reporters produce important work on tight deadlines and shoestring budgets”. —Chelsea Reynolds, Ph.D., assistant professor of communications at California State University, Fullerton
“For the holidays, I really want dual computer monitors. I spend a lot of time reading articles and writing, and my laptop screen is too small to be practical!” —Jessica Powers, graduate student in the clinical psychology doctoral program at Syracuse University
“I am really excited about this retrospective release from Blonde Redhead. I loved listening to them when these albums came out, and I look forward to rediscovering them. This release is special because it is has four LPs and the digital files. I can listen to it on the record player or on the Sonos.” —Harper Reed, head of commerce at Braintree
“I would love to get Savage Young Dü, which looks like a lavishly produced box set of rarities by Saint Paul, Minnesota’s fierce punk-rockers, Hüsker Dü. For a Midwesterner who grew up in the ’80s—and following the recent passing of drummer/co-songwriter Grant Hart—to hear that there are 47 previously unissued Hüsker songs and an alternate version of Land Speed Record is tantalizing.” —Mike Maggiore, programmer at Film Forum
This article is published through a partnership with New York magazine’s the Strategist and Select All. The partnership is designed to surface the most useful, expert recommendations for things to buy across the vast e-commerce landscape. We update links when possible, but note that deals can expire and all prices are subject to change. Every editorial product is independently selected by New York magazine. If you buy something through our links, Slate and New York magazine may earn an affiliate commission.