Hello! I’ve always been quite intrigued by subscription boxes, it’s a bit like receiving a present, except that you’ve bought it for yourself and don’t remember what it is.
I’ve tried out a few beauty ones before, and a couple of book boxes in the past, but I’ve never really stuck to them.
So I decided to test out three different ones at relatively the same price point, all under £20, to see which I liked the best, and if I thought they were good value.
I ordered them all on the same day, in late February so that I would get the March box. I’ve chosen to share a few months late, so that I don’t spoil anyone, but you still get my views on each of the boxes!
Subscription one: Rare Birds Book Club
Rare Birds Book Club is the first of my three subscriptions to arrive, and thankfully was small enough to fit through my letterbox.
It’s based in Edinburgh, and run by editor Rachel, who picks the books herself.
Coming in at £10, it’s the cheapest box I got. It’s also the only one that only comes with a book, and no added extras.
The book comes all lovely and wrapped up in tissue paper. Mine was a little ripped but I did also enthusiastically grab it out the bag so there’s a 100% chance that was my own doing. There’s also a little card which gives you a synopsis about the book, and reminds you that once you’ve read the book you can contribute to the online discussion from the 20th of the month, to make sure that no one is accidentally spoiled!
Hot off the press! March’s book was Don’t You Forget About Me by Mhairi McFarlane, which actually reached my doorstep an entire week before the book was even published.
Romance is really not my genre. I’m obviously going to give this a go, because I have enjoyed them in the past, but it’s generally not something that I gravitate towards. I’m quite looking forward to this, because it’s totally out of my comfort zone and I enjoy the challenge of being pushed to read things I wouldn’t usually. I did end up giving this one to my mum to take on her holiday, and she really enjoyed it so it’s sitting on my shelves ready for me to pick up.
Subscription two: Books that Matter
Books that Matter comes packaged in this lovely box with two ladies reading on the front, so I knew straight away what I was getting in the mail, which was nice!
It’s based in Bristol, and was the priciest of the three I ordered, coming in at around £16 I think with postage and packaging.
It usually features a book written by a woman, and is more often than not diverse.
My box was in partnership with publisher Virago, who print literature exclusively by women.
Alongside the book, I received three art prints and a badge set of forgotten women from history. These include Wu Zeitan, who was a Chinese empress Hatshepsut, the fifth Pharaoh of the Eighteenth Dynasty of Egypt and Theodora, an empress of the Eastern Roman Empire.
The book is this lovely edition of Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston, which luckily I’ve never read.
It has a very vague synopsis, but I believe it’s about a black woman in the 30s called Janie, and the marriages that she goes through. I’m trying to make sure that I read more older books, so hopefully I will get round to picking this one up soon.
Subscription three: Reading In Heels
Reading in Heels seems to be the subscription box that has gotten the most media attention. It comes with quite a few goodies, and comes in at £12.80 including postage and packaging.
I thought given that it comes with quite a few things with it, £12.80 was a decent price, and it’s also based in the UK.
Opening the box, the book was wrapped up in some tissue paper, and I was able to see all the bits and pieces that came with it.
March’s box included a few feminist-themed postcards, a sleep balm and some chocolate.
Unfortunately I don’t like caramel so that was passed on, but I’ve put the postcards to good use to mark out some recipes I’m keen to try in my cookbooks.
The book that came with Reading In Heels is one by Columbian author Melba Escobar. I’ve never read anything by a Columbian author before, so I’m interested to give this one a go.
It’s a thriller, about a teenager that’s been found dead and a salon where the people working there know too much. I don’t like knowing the full details of thrillers, so that’s all I’ve read into so far.
I have actually read the first few pages of this and it was easy to read and fast paced, so I imagine I’ll pick this one up the next time I’m in the mood for a thriller.
I’m actually not sure about subscription boxes still.
In terms of the items that come with the boxes, I wasn’t overly keen on them. I think that’s more of a me problem than the box, as I’m sure most people will like postcards and art prints, but I don’t tend to display them, so I’m not really sure what to do with them.
The books were very diverse, and none except the Books that Matter pick were ones that I would pick out for myself. It’s not that I won’t read the books that I received, I’m happy to get things out of my comfort zone, and you never know, I might find a new favourite genre.
As I write this, I still have my Rare Birds Book Club subscription live, as I like the idea of receiving a random book, but wasn’t mad on the extras so it seemed like the best option.
In the other months, I’ve received Transcription by Kate Atkinson, Ponti by Sharlene Teo and Circe by Madeline Miller (which I actually already had, so I gave it away).
In terms of the idea behind it, Books that Matter was definitely my favourite. I love the idea of having female authors, and woc especially highlighted in literature. Next time there’s a theme I’m really interested I think I will probably purchase another box.
I’m still open to subscription boxes in the future, but I think I’ll maybe stick to one that offers a cup of tea and a book next time.
If you would like to see a review of Prudence and the Crow, another book subscription I got a few years ago, you can see it here.