Columns > Published on November 24th, 2017

LitReactor's Black Friday Picks for Readers and Writers

It’s Black Friday. Dust those pie crust crumbs off your distended belly, sit up, and pay attention!

Black Friday is a tough one for writers. On one hand, we like to think of ourselves as being less attached to objects than others. On the other hand, most of us aren’t swimming in cash.

I'm not going to ply you with some "more you buy, more you save" nonsense. You're smarter than that. Which is why I'm going to say this nonsense instead: There are times for principles, and then there are times to be smart. When a pair of headphones that can make you dead to the world is 40% off, that’s the time to be smart.

Old School 

Sharpie Pens

I have a pen policy. I carry two. One is nice and I don’t mind lending it to you. The other is really nice, and I would mind lending it to you. Basically, I have the decoy pen and then the actual pen. This system has never failed me yet. The real question is whether the Sharpie pens are the decoy or not. I'll never tell. 

[amazon B001B66DXU inline]


Parker Jotter

Want to jump into the fancy pen waters? Here you go. Just don't tell anyone you paid half what they did. Pen snobs don't know how to appreciate a good bargain.

[amazon B01DJBHJRI inline]


Office Spaces

Time Timer

Yes, I'm aware that the name is profoundly stupid. But when it comes to word sprints, Pomodoro, or whatever technique you're using, the Time Timer times time like no other.

[amazon B013F7HXO0 inline]


Brother Label Maker

Here's a concept: I address a letter using a label and it ACTUALLY arrives at its destination instead of going back into my mailbox with a bunch of question marks and circles all over it. 

[amazon B013DG2FNW inline]


Epson Wireless Printer/Copier/Scanner

Someday we'll live in a world where it would be crazy to buy a new printer every time yours runs out of ink. But until that's a pretty good bargain. Maybe donate the savings to nature. However the hell you do that.

[amazon B010UU5XSS inline]


Sit-to-Stand Monitor Riser

They say sitting is the new smoking. Which leaves me wondering what smoking is if I’m sitting here with a cigarette. Either way, if you’re one of those people who wants to live beyond the age of 38, maybe look into it.

[amazon B01LQUOD6Y inline]


Gizmos and Gadgets

Canon EOS 80D

Take pictures of locations you want to use. NICE pictures. Trust me, it helps. Alternatively, take pictures of your family, who you love but haven’t seen in daylight for a couple weeks because you’re getting that manuscript finished.

[amazon B01BUYJX6G inline]


Kindle Paperwhite

I’m not going to lie to you, this thing has saved my relationship. No more lamps on for hours after one of us *cough* has been trying to sleep for hours.

[amazon B00OQVZDJM inline]


Kindle Fire 

This particular model hasn't saved my romantic relationship, but it did really enhance my relationship with The Amazing Spider-Man, who I can read all about in easy form now. Enhancing THAT relationship probably hurt the aforementioned romantic relationship, but easy come, easy go. 

[amazon B01GEW27DA inline]


Samsung Galaxy Tab

In all honesty, a pretty decent portable work solution. Get yourself a keyboard and you’re good to go.

[amazon B01EUC7NPI inline]


Echo Dot

You can make this thing order pizza for you. You can make it order laundry detergent. You can call a ride with it. What I’m getting at is the fact that this thing can save you time. Time is the hardest thing to make more of, but Amazon figured it out.

[amazon B01DFKC2SO inline]


Fire TV Stick 

Yes, we know. You don't watch television. It's for the unwashed masses. But if you ever felt like getting yourself a little dirty and joining the rest of us, this gizmo is a great way to do it.

[amazon B00ZV9RDKK inline]



Basic Coffee Maker

It’s coffee. You know you need it. It’s one of the few legal drugs that’s a true stimulant. Maybe we’ll live in a utopia someday where I can have a mug full of cocaine by my side while I type, but until then, coffee is the ticket.

[amazon B06XP4DKGL inline]


French Press

The best part of a French press is that it makes great coffee. The second best thing about it is then telling everyone with their drip machines that they are living life the wrong way. 

[amazon B00008XEWG inline]


Zojirushi Stainless Steel Mug

To my mind, coffee is one of the best things ever experienced when it's warm, and it's indistinguishable from raw sewage when it's cold. Why do we call sewage "raw" anyway? Is there a cooked sewage? Wait, don't answer that. Nevermind. Think coffee instead.

[amazon B00HYOGUM2 inline]



Ear Protection

Hear me out on this one. Pair these with simple earbuds, boom, you've got noise-canceling headphones. Your partner won't appreciate you mowing the lawn with these things on your head, but don't let someone else's insecurities get in the way of your greatness. Throw on those cutoffs, grab your ear protection, and get down to business.

[amazon B007BGSI5U inline]


Samsung Chromebook

I mean, duh. After limping along a cheap laptop for about 7 years longer than I should have, I wish I could go back in time and tell myself to bite the bullet and get a new one. Yeah, they get pricey, but it's worth it for a battery that lasts more than 45 seconds, a plug that doesn't have to be inserted just so, and something that can handle basic software without shutting down worse than middle school me at a dance.

[amazon B01LZ6XKS6 inline]


Macbook Air

Here's a pro tip: If you don't want to want one of these, never ever touch one. Once you do, you're doomed. 

[amazon B077GBJ3YS inline]


And Of Course, Books

There are always great books for the buying, but these are too cheap and too great to leave behind.

'I'll Tell You In Person' by Chloe Caldwell

Shout-out to our LitReactor homie, Chloe Caldwell!

[amazon B01IMJWH74 inline]


'Black Mad Wheel' by Josh Malerman

This is one of those books that EVERYONE is reading. I sort of want to keep it a secret, but it's just too good.

[amazon B01L6QV3DY inline]


'On Killing' by Dave Grossman


[amazon B00J90F8W2 inline]


'Daughter of Fortune' by Isabel Allende

Never pass up a chance at an Isabel Allende. You'll live a good life if you remember that rule.

[amazon B00I7UYDSA inline]


'The Impossible Fortress' by Jason Rekulak

What makes the fortress so impossible? You'll never know unless you pick this one up.

[amazon B01HMXRWZI inline]


'The Exorcist: 40th Anniversary Edition' by William Peter Blatty

I've never been so excited about something I love turning 40.

[amazon B004V5180G inline]


'A Head Full of Ghosts' by Paul Tremblay

This was one half the Best Of lists that LitReactor folks made last year. And it's still great.

[amazon B00MTSKHKO inline]


'The Risen' by Ron Rash

Quit wasting time and get into Ron Rash already.

[amazon B019C3WT68 inline]


'Reservation Blues' by Sherman Alexie

A classic that should be even more classic.

[amazon B00FEZ25JA inline]


'The Mysteries of Pittsburgh' by Michael Chabon

A lesser-known book of Chabon's, which it totally shouldn't be.

[amazon B006HCU61I inline]


'The Wrong Way to Save Your Life: Essays' by Megan Stielstra

Beautiful, fierce essays. 

[amazon B01N01T83A inline]


About the author

Peter Derk lives, writes, and works in Colorado. Buy him a drink and he'll talk books all day.  Buy him two and he'll be happy to tell you about the horrors of being responsible for a public restroom.

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