Like so many other book nerds, I have a stack of books that I swear I need to get through and before getting to all of them. But inevitably I find myself bringing home more books to make friends with my already very tall stack of TBR books.
For me, YA books are my vice. I have tried reading more adult centered contemporary fiction, but it never stuck. The adult world is full of misery and frustrating hypocrisy that I already live in. Why would I want to spend more time there. It drives me further into existential nightmares that I have to deal with in real life. No way I would voluntarily spend my free hours in that muck. So I reach for YA books to find that spark of imagination and hope that soothes the idealist in me, the small part that is still left over while battling the world we live in now.
And one way I have found that I can curve my need to buy ALL THE BOOKS, is to invest in monthly book subscription boxes. That way, I know every month I will be getting something new, a total surprise to consider for my reading pleasure. The curation of the next book is also a nice thing to put into someone else’s hands. It can push me in a new direction of genre that I might not go for, or comfort me with something I would have snapped up had I seen it on the shelf. I like being surprised by this choice.
Over the years, I have tried four different kinds of book box subscriptions. One is sadly no longer active (and I wish it would come back), but overall I have been really pleased with the selection and bookish goodies that these boxes advertise.
Book Boxes I Have Tried
- Once Upon a Book Club: I was a member of this box for just over a year. The concept for this book box is really the selling point for it. They offer both an adult box and a YA book box version, so you can either choose or get both. As you read through the book, you will notice notes pasted into the pages at specific parts of the novel to indicate that you should open the gift included in the box. There are usually 3-5 gifts in the box all labeled with the appropriate page numbers. The gifts are themed from the plot of the book itself, items or artifacts from the book. It can be quite an immersive experience when the gifts are done well. But like so many movies that just don’t get it right, the gifts can be underwhelming if your imagination was somewhere else. It was a nice idea, and I got some really amazing reading experiences out of it. But I found myself wanting the books more than the gifts, many of which were poorly made of not worth keeping.
- PopReads Box: Sadly, this box is no longer. The curators of the box got busy with life and still post up on Instagram, but the box subscription no longer exists. Although I was only signed up for them for a few months, this was by far my favorite box. It was a simple concept. You love books? You love Funko Pops? You like Etsy bookish candles or bookmarks? Then this was your box. The books were fantasy/Sci-Fi YA books and had the added surprise of a Funko Pop. I really hope this one comes back to life.
- OwlCrate: This box is pretty well known, but I shied away from this as I wanted to try the lesser known boxes first. But I have been subscribed to this box for about 3 months now, and it has been delightfully not as banal as I thought it was going to be. This also is a box that has YA novels and 4-6 bookish items, with their monthly enamel pin as well. Sometimes you get ARC (Advance Reading Copy) books in addition to your monthly choice, and all books come with some kind of signed book plate or signature of the author inside the book. Plus you get author interviews, author notes, and insider book chats hosted online by the OwlCrate team. It’s a pretty solid, standard box. I have a pretty fleece throw from this box on my couch right now!
- FairyLoot: Unlike the other boxes I have listed, FairyLoot is actually based in the UK and thus has different pricing and shipping structures attached to it. I usually get this box a week or so after everyone else in the UK gets it because US customs works on their own schedule. This is a YA fantasy/Sci-Fi book box. And much like OwlCrate, it includes their own 4-5 bookish goodies ranging from candles, bookmarks, Etsy creator goods, and online chats with authors hosted by the FairyLoot team. I have been getting this box at the same time as my OwlCrate box and so far have had no overlap in book choices which has been really nice. It’s a good complement to OwlCrate and give me the variety of choice that I like.
All of these boxes have been a great way for me to take risks with book choices and expand what my reading repertoire has usually been. Sometimes it works, and I fall in love with a new author or book series, and other times I find duds that I know not to recommend. The more I read, the more I can hone what kind of writing style I prefer and what kinds of characters and world building really plunge me into the deep end of a fantastic reading experience. And all the goodies included in the book aside—they are small trinkets really—the star of these boxes are the books and the surprise you get meeting someone new. So if you find yourself in a reading rut, challenge yourself with a book box. And make sure you read the book before the next month’s box arrives as well. Give yourself that challenge, and you might find yourself reaching for books you wouldn’t normally gravitate to!