15 Quirky Valentine's Day Gifts for the Mental Floss Geek

Amazon/Distributed Art Publishers/Unemployed Philosopher's Guild/UncommonGoods
Amazon/Distributed Art Publishers/Unemployed Philosopher's Guild/UncommonGoods

Boxes of chocolate and red roses are fine Valentine's Day gifts, but if you and your loved one are Mental Floss readers, chances are your tastes run a little more offbeat than that. To help you find the perfect gift for your favorite geek this Valentine's Day, our writers and editors pulled together suggestions based on their own passions, including cooking, science, history, and, of course, totally gross medical illustrations from the 19th century. Check out our picks below.

1. The Sick Rose: Disease and the Art of Medical Illustration; $25

Medical book
Distributed Art Publishers/Amazon

OK, perhaps this isn't the most romantic of gifts. But bibliophiles, scientists, and history lovers alike will adore this gorgeously designed tome (named after a poem by William Blake) that features 19th century medical illustrations, organized by disease. If you have a bit more to spend, consider picking up its companion books, Crucial Interventions (all about 19th century surgery) and The Smile Stealers: The Fine and Foul Art of Dentistry (the title kind of says it all!) for a truly unforgettable trifecta. —Erin McCarthy, Editor-in-Chief

Buy it: Amazon

2. The Creme Shop x Hello Kitty Self-Care Spa Set; $28

Hello Kitty skincare
The Crème Shop/Amazon

This quirky-and-cute set is perfect for people who enjoy both self-care and Hello Kitty (so basically ... everyone). It includes a sleep mask, a headband, and scented strawberry champagne bath crystals for the ultimate night of relaxation and the sweetest dreams. —E.M.

Buy it: Amazon

3. Sea Monkeys; $14

Sea monkeys

Old millennials (like me!) will no doubt have fond memories of this kit, which brings Sea-Monkeys—a.k.a., brine shrimp named for their long tails—to "instant life." It's the perfect gift for anyone who wants to remember the good old days of their youth—and for curious kids, of course. —E.M.

Buy it: Amazon

4. Stalactite necklace; $145


A lot of people will give their valentine jewelry on February 14, but this bauble is truly unique. Stalactites form when mineral-rich water drips from the cave's ceiling; over many years the minerals build up and harden into cones. Artist Mickey Flynn's pendant is a slice of one showing circles of different compounds. You don't have to be a speleologist to appreciate Earth's wonders. —Kat Long, Science Editor

Buy it: UncommonGoods

5. Mars dust globe; $35

Mars snow globe

If we're going to colonize Mars one day, we'll have to get used to the planet's intense dust storms. Prepare your valentine for the future with this cute Mars 'dust globe,' featuring two astronauts in the middle of a swirling cloud of iron-rich particles. —K.L.

Buy it: UncommonGoods

6. Literary Insults Chart; $25

Literary insults poster

"Some are wise, and some are otherwise." That kernel of wisdom from Jonathan Swift is one of many classic putdowns you can put on display in this wall chart featuring some of literature's greatest insults. —Jake Rossen, Senior Staff Writer

Buy it: UncommonGoods

7. Homemade Kimchi Kit; $45

Homemade kimchi kit

My favorite food projects involve an impressive transformation that doesn't take a lot of effort on my part. Kimchi is my favorite example of this: You combine a bunch of ingredients in a jar, ignore it for a few days, and come back to find a living, bubbling concoction that tastes better than the sum of its parts. It's a fascinating chance to watch fermentation happen in real time—plus, you get a jar of delicious kimchi at the end! One reason DIY kimchi may not be as trendy as homemade bread is that it requires some specialized equipment and ingredients. This kimchi kit from UncommonGoods has all the hard-to-source items you need to ferment your own cabbage at home, including a jar, an air lock, kimchi paste, and gloves to protect your hands when it's time to mix your ingredients together. —Michele Debczak, Senior Staff Writer

Buy it: UncommonGoods

8. Planet Lollipops; $30

Planet lollipops

Instead of chocolates, these lollipops from UncommonGoods let you opt for something a bit more out-of-the-box—or out of this world. The sugary orbs resemble small, glassy planets, making them as appealing to admire as they are to eat. The lollipops come in various flavors, giving you ample opportunity to sample a taste of what this candy universe provides. —Kerry Wolfe, Staff Editor

Buy it: UncommonGoods

9. Teas of the Boston Tea Party; $35

Tea from the Boston Tea Party

Fancy a taste of history? This set from Uncommon Goods contains five teas from the varieties found in the hundreds of chests chucked overboard during the Boston Tea Party. If you don’t feel like dumping your tea in a harbor and sparking a revolution, you can use the set to simply brew yourself a nice, warming drink. —K.W.

Buy it: UncommonGoods

10. The Storymatic; $30

Storymatic game

When I was younger, my family and I spent long car rides constructing truly absurd (but grammatically correct) sentences by taking turns contributing one word at a time. I think The Storymatic generates that same kind of literary creativity—in it, you draw two cards that reveal characteristics about your protagonist and two cards that give you situational details, and then you try to tie everything together in a cohesive story. Aspiring writers can use it for inspiration, and everyone else can just use it for laughs. —Ellen Gutoskey, Staff Writer

Buy it: UncommonGoods

11. Book-Themed Coffee Mugs; $16

A mug with Kurt Vonnegut quotes
Unemployed Philosophers Guild/Amazon

Being a full-time editor with a two-hour roundtrip commute means I read—a lot. But my reading habit is more than just a way to pass time on the train; my face is pretty much always in a book, magazine, or comic, even on days and nights off. That’s why I love these book-themed coffee mugs from The Unemployed Philosophers Guild. They have mugs with famous lines from the Brontë sisters, Roald Dahl, and Jane Austen, along with ones with famous first and last lines from the classics. My favorite, though? The mug of Kurt Vonnegut lines—there’s just something so comforting about reading “I was a victim of a series of accidents, as are we all” as you sip your coffee on a Monday morning. —Jay Serafino, Special Projects Editor

12. Literary Scarves; $48

Literary Scarf from UncommonGoods.

Whether your giftee prefers to be called a Janeite or an Austenite, any fan of the Pride and Prejudice author will love wrapping themselves up in the words of Mr. Darcy (even if they sometimes sounded better in his head than when spoken out loud). These cozy, T-shirt-like cotton infinity scarves feature passages from some of the world's most beloved books; choose from Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility, Jane Eyre, or Alice in Wonderland. —Jennifer Wood, Managing Editor

Buy it: UncommonGoods

13. We Found Each Other Custom Puzzle; $129

A customizable puzzle

You might not remember what you were wearing the day you met your significant other, or the first words you exchanged, but you no doubt remember where you were. Commemorate that iconic spot—wherever it may have been—with a customized, 300-piece jigsaw puzzle that features an aerial view of the place where "We Found Each Other." —J.W.

Buy it: UncommonGoods

14. Book Lover's Journal; $13

Book journal
Rene J. Smith/Amazon

Whether I'm at work, home, or commuting, I always have a book with me. However, when anyone ever asks me what I've been reading, my mind almost always draws a blank. So that's why I am gifting myself—along with my other book-loving friends—this journal. You can log up to 67 titles, and record important details like the publisher, author, how you came to choose the book, any notes you have, and your overall rating. After all, experts say you remember things better when you write them down. Kristen Richard, Associate Editor

Buy it: Amazon

15. Benjamin Franklin Mug; $16

A tea mug
The Unemployed Philosophers Guild/Amazon

This mug is essential for anyone who loves tea and history. The slit at the top not only allows your teabag to look like it's part of Benjamin Franklin's famous 1752 electricity experiment, but it also keeps the bag from falling into the cup. —K.R.

Buy it: Amazon

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Wayfair’s Fourth of July Clearance Sale Takes Up to 60 Percent Off Grills and Outdoor Furniture


This Fourth of July, Wayfair is making sure you can turn your backyard into an oasis while keeping your bank account intact with a clearance sale that features savings of up to 60 percent on essentials like chairs, hammocks, games, and grills. Take a look at some of the highlights below.

Outdoor Furniture

Brisbane bench from Wayfair

- Jericho 9-Foot Market Umbrella $92 (Save 15 percent)
- Woodstock Patio Chairs (Set of Two) $310 (Save 54 percent)
- Brisbane Wooden Storage Bench $243 (Save 62 percent)
- Kordell Nine-Piece Rattan Sectional Seating Group with Cushions $1800 (Save 27 percent)
- Nelsonville 12-Piece Multiple Chairs Seating Group $1860 (Save 56 percent)
- Collingswood Three-Piece Seating Group with Cushions $410 (Save 33 percent)

Grills and Accessories

Dyna-Glo electric smoker.

- Spirit® II E-310 Gas Grill $479 (Save 17 percent)
- Portable Three-Burner Propane Gas Grill $104 (Save 20 percent)
- Digital Bluetooth Electric Smoker $224 (Save 25 percent)
- Cuisinart Grilling Tool Set $38 (Save 5 percent)

Outdoor games

American flag cornhole game.

- American Flag Cornhole Board $57 (Save 19 percent)
- Giant Four in a Row Game $30 (Save 6 percent)
- Giant Jenga Game $119 (Save 30 percent)

This article contains affiliate links to products selected by our editors. Mental Floss may receive a commission for purchases made through these links.

10 Products for a Better Night's Sleep

Amazon/Comfort Spaces
Amazon/Comfort Spaces

Getting a full eight hours of sleep can be tough these days. If you’re having trouble catching enough Zzzs, consider giving these highly rated and recommended products a try.

1. Everlasting Comfort Pure Memory Foam Knee Pillow; $25

Everlasting Comfort Knee Pillow
Everlasting Comfort/Amazon

For side sleepers, keeping the spine, hips, and legs aligned is key to a good night’s rest—and a pain-free morning after. Everlasting Comfort’s memory foam knee pillow is ergonomically designed to fit between the knees or thighs to ensure proper alignment. One simple but game-changing feature is the removable strap, which you can fasten around one leg; this keeps the pillow in place even as you roll at night, meaning you don’t have to wake up to adjust it (or pick it up from your floor). Reviewers call the pillow “life-changing” and “the best knee pillow I’ve found.” Plus, it comes with two pairs of ear plugs.

Buy it: Amazon

2. Letsfit White Noise Machine; $21

Letsfit White Noise Machine

White noise machines: They’re not just for babies! This Letsfit model—which is rated 4.7 out of five with nearly 3500 reviews—has 14 potential sleep soundtracks, including three white noise tracks, to better block out everything from sirens to birds that chirp enthusiastically at dawn (although there’s also a birds track, if that’s your thing). It also has a timer function and a night light.

Buy it: Amazon

3. ECLIPSE Blackout Curtains; $16

Eclipse Black Out Curtains

According to the National Sleep Foundation, too much light in a room when you’re trying to snooze is a recipe for sleep disaster. These understated polyester curtains from ECLIPSE block 99 percent of light and reduce noise—plus, they’ll help you save on energy costs. "Our neighbor leaves their backyard light on all night with what I can only guess is the same kind of bulb they use on a train headlight. It shines across their yard, through ours, straight at our bedroom window," one Amazon reviewer who purchased the curtains in black wrote. "These drapes block the light completely."

Buy it: Amazon

4. JALL Wake Up Light Sunrise Alarm Clock; $38

JALL Wake Up Light Sunrise Alarm Clock

Being jarred awake by a blaring alarm clock can set the wrong mood for the rest of your day. Wake up in a more pleasant way with this clock, which gradually lights up between 10 percent and 100 percent in the 30 minutes before your alarm. You can choose between seven different colors and several natural sounds as well as a regular alarm beep, but why would you ever use that? “Since getting this clock my sleep has been much better,” one reviewer reported. “I wake up not feeling tired but refreshed.”

Buy it: Amazon

5. Philips SmartSleep Wake-Up Light; $200

Philips SmartSleep Wake-Up Light

If you’re looking for an alarm clock with even more features, Philips’s SmartSleep Wake-Up Light is smartphone-enabled and equipped with an AmbiTrack sensor, which tracks things like bedroom temperature, humidity, and light levels, then gives recommendations for how you can get a better night’s rest.

Buy it: Amazon

6. Slumber Cloud Stratus Sheet Set; $159

Stratus sheets from Slumber Cloud.
Slumber Cloud

Being too hot or too cold can kill a good night’s sleep. The Good Housekeeping Institute rated these sheets—which are made with Outlast fibers engineered by NASA—as 2020’s best temperature-regulating sheets.

Buy it: SlumberCloud

7. Comfort Space Coolmax Sheet Set; $29-$40

Comfort Spaces Coolmax Sheets
Comfort Spaces/Amazon

If $159 sheets are out of your price range, the GHI recommends these sheets from Comfort Spaces, which are made with moisture-wicking Coolmax microfiber. Depending on the size you need, they range in price from $29 to $40.

Buy it: Amazon

8. Coop Home Goods Eden Memory Foam Pillow; $80

Coop Eden Pillow
Coop Home Goods/Amazon

This pillow—which has a 4.5-star rating on Amazon—is filled with memory foam scraps and microfiber, and comes with an extra half-pound of fill so you can add, or subtract, the amount in the pillow for ultimate comfort. As a bonus, the pillows are hypoallergenic, mite-resistant, and washable.

Buy it: Amazon

9. Baloo Weighted Blanket; $149-$169

Baloo Weighted Blanket

Though the science is still out on weighted blankets, some people swear by them. Wirecutter named this Baloo blanket the best, not in small part because, unlike many weighted blankets, it’s machine-washable and -dryable. It’s currently available in 12-pound ($149) twin size and 20-pound ($169) queen size. It’s rated 4.7 out of five stars on Amazon, with one reviewer reporting that “when it's spread out over you it just feels like a comfy, snuggly hug for your whole body … I've found it super relaxing for falling asleep the last few nights, and it looks nice on the end of the bed, too.” 

Buy it: Amazon 

10. Philips Smartsleep Snoring Relief Band; $200

Philips SmartSleep Snoring Relief Band

Few things can disturb your slumber—and that of the ones you love—like loudly sawing logs. Philips’s Smartsleep Snoring Relief Band is designed for people who snore when they’re sleeping on their backs, and according to the company, 86 percent of people who used the band reported reduced snoring after a month. The device wraps around the torso and is equipped with a sensor that delivers vibrations if it detects you moving to sleep on your back; those vibrations stop when you roll onto your side. The next day, you can see how many hours you spent in bed, how many of those hours you spent on your back, and your response rate to the vibrations. The sensor has an algorithm that notes your response rate and tweaks the intensity of vibrations based on that. “This device works exactly as advertised,” one Amazon reviewer wrote. “I’d say it’s perfect.”

Buy it: Amazon

This article contains affiliate links to products selected by our editors. Mental Floss may receive a commission for purchases made through these links.