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Relevant To Your Interests: A Back to School Shopping List for Nerds

Ah, it’s that time again—back to school shopping. Since I love school, back to school shopping has always been one of my very favorite times of the year. My adult life has not proved to be an exception, what with graduate school, teaching and hoping for a long happy life in academia, etc. But it was always more fun when your mom let you get the crazy patterned pencil grips and Lisa Frank trapper keeper, right? Let’s pizazz up our back to school shopping lists with NERD STUFF.


(Non)Standard School Supplies

Entomologist-Inspired Pushpins, $15. Memo-saurus Desk Organizer, $13. Personal Library Kit, $16. QUIT STEALING MY TEXTBOOKS. Lego Limited Edition Large Ruled Moleskine, $20. Star Wars Trapper Keeper, $20. YOU BET I FOUND ONE. There are also insertable Star Wars Composition books! You’re welcome! Adventure Time Pencil Box, $10. Raymond Geddes Game Controller Erasers, $16 for 24.


Backpacks and Lunch Boxes

Pokemon Backpack, $25. Hylian Shield Backpack, $40. LuNCH bag, $13. For those who enjoy lunch…periodically. Legend of Kora Lunchbox, $9. Creeper Backpack, $40. TravelBoy Backpack, $40. Side note, I always hated how they were called GameBoys. Like, talk about needlessly gendering a product and potentially ostracizing half your market at an age where children relentlessly make fun of each other for not conforming to social norms. Marketing fail. But I digress.


Computer Equipment and Tech Accessories

Toshiba Chromebook 2 (with 4 GB of RAM), $279. The reason I’m recommending the 4 GB of RAM is because I’m also going to point you in the direction of this nifty guide to installing Linux on your Chromebook in such a way that you can move between Chrome OS and Ubuntu in a keystroke. SleepPhones, $40 or $100 depending on whether or not you want bluetooth. Dorm rooms are noisy, sleep to the sounds of Jim Dale reading you Harry Potter without choking yourself or sticking something uncomfortable in your ears. Laser Projection Bluetooth Keyboard, $130. Take notes on your tablet in the most badass nerdy way possible, basically. 8 GB of Finn, $15. These USB drives are called Mimobots, by the way, and they’re all really adorable.


Stress Relief

Enchanted Forest Coloring Book, $16. Because who doesn’t want to fucking color after a midterm. Goodnight Darth Vader, $15. Then the question becomes: can you convince your roommate to read you a bedtime story? Nerdblock, $17 per month for 6 months (other subscription lengths are available). Basically, it’s a box filled with a bunch of nerdy stuff like a tee-shirt and action figures that’s sent to you every damn month. Tenth Doctor Onesie, $40. Because homework will be better this way.


So You’re Moving For School

Dorm room? Off-campus? We’ve got you covered. Han Solo Fridge, $150. For those whose universities do not provide this necessity. LaundryBoy Hamper, $20. See above rant. But look at how cute the PokeLaundry is. Tardis Trashcan, $50. Brain Specimen Coasters, $20. Don’t get charged for wrecking furniture if your new place comes furnished à la université. D20 Bowl Set, $13. Perfect for limited space, only-need-two-bowls-type situations. dorm-two Star Trek TNG Shower Curtain, $25. For y’all luckies with apartment-style dorms or off-campus housing. Tardis String Lights, $20. Resist institutional lighting. Periodic Table of Elements Blanket, $30. Study while napping. Doctor Who Bath Towel Set, $50. Probably your roommate won’t have the same towels so there will be no mixing them up. Unless of course your roommate is a nerdy Straddler, in which case RIGHT ON YOU WIN THE ROOMMATE LOTTERY WORRY ABOUT THE TOWELS ANOTHER TIME.

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A.E. Osworth

A.E. Osworth is part-time Faculty at The New School, where they teach undergraduates the art of digital storytelling. Their novel, We Are Watching Eliza Bright, about a game developer dealing with harassment (and narrated collectively by a fictional subreddit), is forthcoming from Grand Central Publishing (April 2021) and is available for pre-order now. They have an eight-year freelancing career and you can find their work on Autostraddle (where they used to be the Geekery Editor), Guernica, Quartz, Electric Lit, Paper Darts, Mashable, and drDoctor, among others.

A.E. has written 542 articles for us.


  1. Ohhh wow I think SleepPhones might change my entire world and I am very impressed that you know exactly how I intend to use them. Jim Dale is an absolute sugarplum and even on my most misandrist days he is the one man who I am happy to listen to.

  2. Jammer the three month old kitten liked this article so much he tried to print 9 copies of it before I hit cancel and removed him from the keyboard.

    • It is not even the only one I found, Emma. There’s one with a transporter bath mat that goes along with it.

  3. And not just those listed items … the whole Think Geek site is a temptation …Olde Book pillows!!

  4. I’ve definitely bought that memo-saurus (surprising no one) while i’ve been on vacation this summer and I cannot wait to take it home and put it on my desk!

  5. I want that Han Solo fridge.

    I personally found the Spotify app on Linux, while in beta, is way better than their Windows, Android and iOS apps. Also, I think Dell has business version of the Chromebook in a 13in model. The advantage there would be the better and faster business support(it’s located in the US if I am not mistaken). The advantage there would be the option of on site service as an option, seriously, my friend had Dell tech come to his campus office to replace the speakers on his Dell, a day after we called tech support.

  6. Wow I suddenly was 6th grade Rey instead of grad school Rey when I saw those eraser toys. Grad school Rey is going to get more toy erasers now. I used to chew on the scented ones; pleasantly gummy.

  7. Such a great list! Especially the Enchanted Forest colouring book.
    Is anyone else loving the adult colouring book craze at the moment? They’re so much fun!

  8. Are you sure the chromebook is on 279? Best Buy (your link) is $299, if you know where I can get one for $279 I am in. Great article.

  9. I new the towels. I need them so much. Does the universe nt understand how much i need to wrap myself up in the and shout I’M BIGGER ON THE INSIDE. Think what will do for my self esteem!!

  10. how is it possible to choke while wearing headphones in bed? Ali, i think you’re doing headphones wrong.

    I, 29 years old, would proudly wear that Hylian shield backpack though. No shame.

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