Back in 2011 I first wrote about a great organization called GoneReading that was just starting up at the time. The concept of GoneReading was (and is) a brilliant one: have an online store that sells high quality gifts specifically geared towards readers, and then take 100% of the after-tax profits to fund charities that are devoted to promoting reading and literacy.
It’s a model that has worked brilliantly; GoneReading’s founder Brad Wirz recently emailed me and shared the happy news that GoneReading recently funded its first new library in Ethiopia.
While there are a lot of charities that provide relief and aid to third world countries, there’s something particularly hopeful about the kind of help that GoneReading provides. It’s one thing to pay for a meal or a handout, but it’s a whole other thing to open up a world of knowledge that people in these countries can use to become educated and break the cycle of poverty and hopelessness.
As an online store, GoneReading has come a long way since I first posted about them two years ago. While they used to be mainly a shop that sold things like mugs and T-Shirts, today they’ve expanded to have a huge breadth of fantastic gifts for book lovers.
Some of my favorite gifts are actually some of the most affordable–they have a huge selection of high quality metal bookmarks with cute charms on the end (my sister is both a dog lover and a book lover, so this one will be perfect for her).
In addition, since I last wrote about them, they’ve added an amazing number of new items. One of my favorite are literary action figures of Charles Dickens and Oscar Wilde. Legend has it that Oscar Wilde once insulted Charles Dickens by saying about The Old Curiousity Shop, “One would have to have a heart of stone to read the death of little Nell without dissolving into tears…of laughter”. If you buy these action figures, you can reenact what the inevitable deathmatch would have looked like.
There’s a huge number of other great gifts that are perfect for book lovers, from book ends to book holders to book lights to book journals to book plates. There’s even a bamboo bathtub caddy that lets you prop up a book in the bath
If you know any avid readers who like to show off their book knowledge (you know the type, the ones who will quote passages of Shakespeare or Jane Austen), they have a selection of games about books.
Speaking of Jane Austen, one of the coolest gifts (and affordable too) are “magnetic poetry kits”. These are clever sets of 200 magnets of words that you can arrange on the refrigerator. These have been around for a while, but GoneReading has the Edgar Allan Poe edition, the Jane Austin edition, and the Shakespeare edition.
I tried out the Jane Austen set and in no time I was writing like ol’ Jane herself.
GoneReading is a great example of three great American traditions: the entrepreneurial spirit, its generosity, and its love of books. If you love to read or know someone that does, there’s no better place on the Web to do your Christmas shopping.