Gifts For Reluctant Readers: The OWJ Holiday Gift Guide

It can be a challenge to get some people to sit down and read, but we can help. Check out our great gift ideas for those not-so-eager readers on your list!Photo by Anna

It can be a challenge to get some people to sit down and read, but we can help. Check out our great gift ideas for the reluctant reader on your list!
Photo by Anna

Looking for some gift ideas for not-so-reluctant readers? Check out our recommendations of gift ideas for writers and YA novels worth reading.

Some people just don’t like to read. Whether that’s due to dyslexia, attention disorders, bad habits, or just not having enough opportunity to enjoy reading outside of school, there are plenty of people out there, kids and adults, who never really pick up reading as a hobby. As fans of the written word, it sometimes bugs us: We don’t expect them to suddenly live in the library, but we hope that they can be converted. Here are some ways to encourage the reluctant reader in your life to read with gifts that they might actually enjoy:

Matt’s Recommendation:
Coraline by Neil Gaiman

If we put this list together 20 years ago, Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark would have surely been included (and still could… since they’re MAKING A MOVIE OF IT!). The reason is simple: Boys are more likely to be reluctant readers than girls, and most boys will read scary stories. For that reason, Coraline makes my list. It’s scary, creepy, other synonyms for scary, and also awesome. Coraline is a girl who finds a door that leads her to her “other” family. Her other mother bakes sweets, and her other father is attentive. She can stay forever… she just needs to give up her eyes and replace them with buttons. It’s as weird as it sounds, but with how well he writes, Neil Gaiman’s grocery lists are probably fascinating, so there’s that.

Heather’s Recommendation: Monthly Book Gifts

Keep your reluctant reader engaged not just with one gift but with multi-month book gifts. There are several websites and services that offer a sort of “book of the month” club for readers of all ages. This is a great way to give your reader something to look forward to and to reinforce the power of the written word. These online merchants offer collections of books tailored to all age groups and interests, ensuring that your reader will love their new reading material every time.

Mindy’s Recommendation:
Where the Sidewalk Ends
by Shel Silverstein

You might be thinking, “Who on Earth would want to read a book of poetry, especially when they don’t really get into reading in the first place?” But this isn’t your typical poetry. This stuff isn’t about reading deep meaning into florid verse: Instead, it’s a book of silly, kid-friendly poems and drawings that make reading poetry fun. There are a few good lessons to be found in here, too, but they’re well-hidden among the absurdities. In the words of the first poem, Invitation:

If you are a dreamer, come in,
If you are a dreamer, a wisher, a liar,
A hope-er, a pray-er, a magic bean buyer …
If you’re a pretender, come sit by my fire
For we have some flax-golden tales to spin.
Come in!
Come in!

Jillian’s Recommendation:
The Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling

Everyone loves Harry Potter, and anyone who claims otherwise has never read the books. I even shunned Harry Potter during my formative years. It wasn’t until after Order of the Phoenix was released that I decided to jump on the bandwagon, and I haven’t looked back since. I remember I was just starting middle school when Sorcerer’s Stone was first released in the U.S. One of my classmates, who notoriously detested reading and school, was recommended the first (and then only) installment of the series by the school librarian. Shortly after, that same student would be scolded by his teacher for reading it in class. What the teacher saw as a disruption I saw as a significant achievement. Not that I am condoning inattentiveness in class, but if you’re not going to pay attention, it’s better to read than to fall asleep at your desk, right? J.K. Rowling’s brilliant imagination, loveable characters (yes, even Draco), and engaging storytelling have captured the hearts of many, myself included. Anyone exposed to Rowling’s magical world will soon proudly declare themselves Potterheads, and who knows, the exposure might even spark a lifelong love of the written word.

Steph’s Recommendation:
Ermahgerd! Choose Your Own Adventure!

Choose-your-own-adventure books are perfect for reluctant readers with attention disorders and select forms of dyslexia. R.L. Stine has a few hair-raising choices, called the “Give Yourself Goosebumps” series, but there are plenty of great choices from R.A. Montgomery or Edward Packard. Sometimes, the prospect of having to read an entire book is a bit daunting, but for reluctant readers, especially young ones, the ability to flip pages back and forth, skip ahead, and not read everything in sequence is a welcome release. Before they even know it, they’ll have read the whole thing, all without the normal pain, annoyance, anguish, and frustration. For adults, there’s Pretty Little Mistakes: A Do-Over Novel by Heather McElhatton and To Be or Not To Be: A Chooseable-Path Adventure by Ryan North.

David’s Recommendation: Magazines

If you know someone who doesn’t like to read, you can get them reading this holiday season with a subscription to a magazine. The wonderful thing about magazines is that there are all kinds created for all kinds of people. Perhaps you know a reluctant reader who loves to snowboard. Why not get that person a subscription to a snowboarding magazine? You may be surprised to catch them reading an article here and there in their free time. They might even read the whole thing cover to cover. The trick is to find a magazine that specializes in that person’s unique interests. Before you know it, you might just have a voracious reader on your hands.


Posted in Fun Stuff, Uncategorized

YA Novels Worth Reading: The OWJ Holiday Gift Guide

Surrounded by YA novels

Trying to find a good gift among the flood of YA books out there these days? Check out our recommendations!
Photo by martinak15 (Flickr)

Looking for more great gift ideas? Check out our ideas for holiday gifts for writers.

There’s a lot of junk out there for teen readers. In the past ten years, the industry of young adult (YA) fiction has changed, often producing low-quality novels. It’s hard to find a good gift for the teen reader who just wants to read something great. This holiday, find something that’s really worth their time. We’ve compiled a list of classic YA novels that are actually worth reading here. Read more ›

Posted in Fun Stuff

Gift Ideas For Writers: The OWJ Holiday Gift Guide

Trying to figure out what to get the word nerd in your life this holiday season? Check out our recommendations!Photo by Nina Matthews Photography (Flickr)

Trying to figure out what to get the word nerd in your life this holiday season? Check out our recommendations!
Photo by Nina Matthews Photography (Flickr)

This holiday season, the staff at Online Writing Jobs is bringing you great gift ideas for a variety of people in your life. To kick off this short series, we’re starting with a topic we know a bit about. Writers, especially introverted ones, can be difficult to buy for. We’ve compiled a list of holiday gifts that would great for the writer in your life. Either shop for a wordsmith that you love or add these gifts to your own personal wish list this year!

Matt’s Recommendation: Qwerkywriter

You know how you constantly sit at your computer wishing it would have a baby with an old typewriter? Me too! It appears that with Qwerkywriter, it finally happened… and it’s the greatest thing for word nerds since they played FLAPJACK in Scrabble and scored 356 points to pull out the last-second victory (or was that just me? Yeah… it was… take THAT, Grandma!). As of now, Qwerkywriter is available only as a pre-order for $50 off the final retail price, but if you know a word nerd this holiday season, order it and shake your head disapprovingly as they open it. Trust me… they’re used to it!

Heather’s Recommendation:
The Official Scrabble Players Dictionary

For Scrabble players, and word nerds in general, this dictionary is a powerful weapon of word war. From A to Z, this dictionary has every word you can play in Scrabble. It includes every two-letter trickster, like za (slang for pizza – though I’ve never actually heard it used in any context outside of Scrabble, it’s still playable) and qi (life force in traditional Chinese culture). This gift is a must for those who are in love with words and spelling. I bet there’s a word or two in there that even the most seasoned Scrabble player won’t know. Another, smaller stocking-stuffer perfect for the writer in your life is the classic MadLibs. Young or old, MadLibs are a fun way to kill some time on those long holiday treks.

Mindy’s Recommendation:
Perfumes That Make You
Smell Like a Library

If you know someone who likes to write, you’ve probably caught them with their nose in a book from time to time. But if you know a true bibliophile, you might have caught them with their nose literally in a book, sniffing at its pages. The smell of the fresh ink and paper of a new book can truly be something to be savored, but the most distinctive scent is that of an old book, like one in a library or used-book store. In fact, science has shown that as a book ages, the lignin within the paper breaks down, releasing a vanilla-like scent. But you don’t have to spend all day glued to a book to enjoy these unique scents: A few different perfumers have developed fragrances that smell like books. If you’ve got a fair amount of money to spend on the book-lover in your life, get them I Hate Perfume’s In the Library by perfumer Christopher Brosius. Pick up Demeter’s Paperback if you’re trying to stick to a budget, or check out Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab’s The Book for something a bit more complex with better staying power.

Jillian’s Recommendation: Magnetic Poetry

If you know a writer who frequently suffers from writer’s block (and who doesn’t?), consider getting them a magnetic poetry set. The creator of the original magnetic poetry set came up with the idea for this exact purpose. Slap them on your refrigerator door or any other steel surface and start arranging and rearranging the pieces to get the creative juices flowing. You can find many different magnetic poetry kits online, varying in theme, author, and language. If you have the time, you can even create your own custom set.

Steph’s Recommendation: Bananagrams

What word-lover doesn’t love Scrabble? While most writers may have that classic board game, many of them may not have this newer, board-less version. Bananagrams makes Scrabble faster and takes away the tricky element of special-point squares on the board. Players must move fast to swap out letters, making crosswords as quickly as possible. This free-for-all makes you think creatively and quickly. The addictive game is also great for those who travel – it’s compact, portable, and can be played pretty much anywhere. If you know a writer with a family, this is an optimal gift that can provide hours of entertainment.

David’s Recommendation: My Ideal Bookshelf

Most writers can probably name at least a couple of other writers who have influenced their work. But which writers inspired those writers? My Ideal Bookshelf explores this question with 100 charming illustrations depicting the books that various cultural icons would include on their ideal bookshelves. Among the book’s contributors are well-known writers, musicians, fashion designers, and directors. The book also includes brief commentaries from the contributors explaining what makes the books they chose so special to them. In addition to being one heck of a recommended reading list, this book is a testament to the ways in which writing can shape someone’s life. It’s sure to be a hit with the writer in your life.

Posted in Fun Stuff

Happy Thanksgiving from OWJ!


The OWJ office will be closed this week on Thursday (Thanksgiving) and Friday. Please submit your invoices for this week before 3 p.m. on Tuesday, the 25th.

We will also be closed on Christmas and Dec. 26. We will post a reminder and invoicing details as those dates draw nearer.

Please note that emails to will not be responded to during these off days. Please take that into account when picking up and working on projects.

We are very thankful for the hard work of our writers throughout the year. Have a great Thanksgiving!

Posted in Holidays, Payments

Vowel Traps: Don’t Let Them Catch You!

A, E, I, O, U, and sometimes Y

A, E, I, O, U… why? To look smarter and make your writing clearer, of course!
Photo by kumsval (Flickr)

There are plenty of words in the English language that sound the same but are spelled very differently, like “you’re” and “your” or “there” and “their.” But even trickier can be the ones that are almost spelled the same and almost sound the same — with some words, just one little vowel can make a big difference in meaning. Let’s take a look at a few examples that trip a lot of freelance writers up:


To “affect” something is to have an impact on it: Spraining my foot affected my ability to walk.

An “effect” is a change or situation that is the result of a cause: The sunny day really had an effect on his mood.

A general rule of thumb here is that “affect” is a verb, an action word (“A” for “action,” “A” for “affect”). “Effect” comes later in the alphabet — it’s what comes later, after the action happens.


To “complement” something is to complete something, to add to it to make it better: That scarf really complements your dress.

A “compliment” is a kind remark: Mary made my day when she complimented my work on that project.


To “ensure” something to make sure of it, to guarantee it: John camped out overnight to ensure that he’d get front-row tickets.

“Insure” actually comes from the same root word, but it commonly only refers to buying an insurance policy to protect our income: He had to pay more to insure his new car than his old clunker.


This one’s a bit tricky, but the answer’s right there in those first three letters. “Farther” contains the word “far” — it refers to a measurable distance: At last night’s training session, Bob ran father than he ever had before.

“Further” refers to a metaphorical or non-specific distance — it says “more,” but not a measurable “more”: The police will need to look into the case further before they can name any suspects.


If you are still, you are “stationary”: She had to remain stationary while the guard frisked her for weapons.

If you need to write a letter, you’ll need some “stationery,” which refers to paper that you use to write letters or notes: I bought her some nice personalized stationery for her birthday.

Got any other examples of words that always make you second-guess yourself? Leave them in the comments and we’ll help clear up the confusion!

Posted in Writing Tips