Saturday, December 8, 2012

10 Best Calendars for Book Lovers

What happened to book-themed calendars? They certainly used to exist. Somehow, between the bizarre calendars, the popularity of Goats in Trees, and the umpteenth iteration of Thorazined kittens in a basket, calendars featuring great authors seem to have quietly disappeared.
The thing to keep in mind is that calendar publishing is exactly that -- publishing. Just as quality literature is less likely to be published these days in favor of books that will sell in crazily-high numbers (What Would Dummies Read? or Chicken Soup for the Twilight Fan’s Soul), calendar themes tend toward the trendy.

With some serious searching, I turned up a few, and the best are listed here. The list has some gaping holes in it, though. While it’s easy enough to turn up calendars featuring skimpily-attired women in fishing waders, naked dudes with puppies, or the cast of Jersey Shore, there’s not a single 2013 calendar dedicated to female writers, for example.

Are you listening, calendar makers? And while I’m at it, some writers seem lastingly famous enough to warrant their own calendars. Where are they?

Some currently non-existent book-related calendars I’d like to see:

  • Women writers
  • Southern writers
  • Beautiful libraries (seriously, this would be an amazing calendar)
  • Antique books
  • Oscar Wilde? Dorothy Parker? Jules Verne? The list goes on.
  • Mystery writers other than Arthur Conan Doyle, for a change
  • P. G. Wodehouse (for the Empress of Blandings alone)
  • Just downright lovely pictures of lovely books with gilt edges and leather covers and provocative titles that have lost their original meaning after 100 years or so.

Here are 10 of the best book calendars around, though the pool is sadly more shallow than it ought to be. Click the links for purchasing information.

2013 John Coulthart Cthulhu Calendar

Artist and designer John Coulthart created all of the illustrations for this calendar featuring most everyone’s favorite Lovecraft monster (Sorry, shoggoth fans; you’ll have to make your own calendar). These prints are absolutely stunning, and the styles range from what you could swear were vintage illustrations to cool, sleek, modern designs. Pick this up even if you’re lukewarm on Lovecraft, but you like fantasy, horror, or just plain ol’ good design. It’s a beaut.

There She Blows: A 2013 Hark! A Vagrant Literary Calendar

If you don’t know Kate Beaton’s hilariously literate web comic series Hark! A Vagrant, then hie thee to the website. Beaton handles history and literature deftly, skewering everything from Wuthering Heights to Lord Nelson to Edward Gorey’s cover illustrations for Anchor paperbacks. The calendar collects some of the best and funniest (with appearances by Robinson Crusoe and Mr. Rochester), and includes new material not found on the site.

The Reading Woman 2013 Wall Calendar

 There may be a dearth of female authors in the calendar world this year, but at least publishers recognize women as readers (and good thing too, since more women read fiction than men, anyway). The cover painting by Frédéric Soulacroix is a real stunner, and the other choices are no slouches, either.

2013 Vintage Sci-Fi Calendar

This calendar features covers from vintage pulp science fiction magazines from the ‘20s through the ‘50s, with plenty of appearances from notable authors before they made a name for themselves. (“The Concrete Mixer” by Ray Bradbury, anyone?)

2013 Sherlock Holmes Calendar

 Those with an appreciation for the real Holmes and Watson will appreciate this homage to the most popular detective of all time, with ephemera collected by The Strand magazine. Neither Holmes nor Watson are depicted as a robot, a Jack Russell Terrier, or Lucy Liu.

2013 Literary Pin-Up Calendar

Artist Lee Moyer pays tribute to the book characters of twelve fantasy writers, all of whom signed off on the project --including Ray Bradbury, who agreed before his death. Authors featured include Patricia Briggs, Jim Butcher, and Neil Gaiman, whose wife Amanda Scott served as the model for his homage. All proceeds go to Heifer International.

Museum of London’s Dickens and London Calendar 2013

It’s refreshing to see a calendar devoted to one single author (that doesn’t have a current TV or movie tie-in). This Dickens calendar is based on last year’s popular exhibit, which explored the connection between the author and the city that inspired him. Images of ephemera include George Cruikshank’s character illustrations and a toy theater with an Oliver Twist theme.

2013 Authors Are My Rock Stars Calendar

At last, writers being treated like they ought to be treated (something I’ve argued in favor of since Jeffrey Eugenides was trying to look sexy on a billboard). Kerouac, Plath, Twain and other authors are ready for the groupies to get their paws on this one.

Pulp Attack 2013 Calendar

A collection of artwork from both pulp fiction and film, and because pulp always goes big, this is a sixteen-month calendar.

Pulp Romance 2013 Vintage Calendar

Where the pulp attack calendar is rough around the edges, the pulp romance calendar is adorably sweet. The covers are from vintage romance mags, featuring stories like “Unwanted Husband,” “Too Much Passion,” and “Framed by Fate.”

Bonus: Desk Calendars for Book Lovers

If you spend more time at your desk than looking at your wall, then you might need a desk calendar (you might also be a writer). Workman’s Book Lover’s Page-a-Day Calendar is crammed with 365 days of bookish stuff. More of a horror nut? Stephen King has a desk calendar out this year, and it celebrates King stories that hit memorable milestones this year.

Still need another bookish way to keep up with things this year? Subscribe to Book Dirt. You can become a follower, subscribe to the RSS feed, or follow on Facebook.


  1. These ARE excellent calendars, Kelly. Dickens, Fantasy writers (my Mr. Ray B. featured), The Reading Women, and There She Blows would be the ones I'd pick up. And if there ever is a Wodehouse calendar, I'd pick that in a jiffy.

  2. Add another to your list of ought-to-be-calendars: one-book wonders. Consider the writers who have produced only one book--a really significant, canonical book. From off the top of my head, I offer you one to begin the list of twelve: (1) author of Book of Job. Now, I leave it to you and others to fill in the remaining eleven months.