I love surprises, so I couldn't resist giving this subscription thing a try. Book Riot,who has a great website with all sorts of bookish news and has contributors who write about bookish things, was the "curator" I connected to, and last week their surprise package came in the mail…
So, now the question… Was it worth it? First, you need to know that there is a cost to subscribing. AND, you can either subscribe to get the shipments every quarter OR you can just try one shipment. Book Riot's subscription was $50 with free shipping if you subscribed, and $50 plus shipping if you wanted to just try one shipment. Even though I though it was a bit pricey, I couldn't resist. Let's see what's in the box…
Next, I found a really neat poster they included from Melville House, entitled "Read Every Where" and the background is a photo of people in old time book mobile. I like the photo, the poster is 11 x 17 on heavy paper. Unfortunately to get it in the box they had to fold it up a few times, so there are heavy creases, but that's ok with me.
Next, I found a neat little pile of books: Judging a Book by Its Lover by Lauren Leto, Parnassus On Wheels by Christopher Morley, and a galley of The Vacationers by Emma Straub. The Vacationers galley was a bonus advanced copy that Book Riot explains in their letter that randomly selected subscribers would receive. Actually there were 4 other galleys that could have been in my box, including Gemini by Carol Cassella (on my wish list). Here's what the books included are about…
Judging a Book by Its Lover by Lauren Leto… Want to impress the hot stranger at the bar who asks for your take on Infinite Jest? Dying to shut up the blowhard in front of you who’s pontificating on Cormac McCarthy’s “recurring road narratives”? Having difficulty keeping Francine Prose and Annie Proulx straight? For all those overwhelmed readers who need to get a firm grip on the relentless onslaught of must-read books to stay on top of the inevitable conversations that swirl around them, Lauren Leto’s Judging a Book by Its Lover is manna from literary heaven! A hilarious send-up of—and inspired homage to—the passionate and peculiar world of book culture, this guide to literary debate leaves no reader or author unscathed, at once adoring and skewering everyone from Jonathan Franzen to Ayn Rand to Dostoyevsky and the people who read them.
This looks to be a fun read. It's basically Lauren's take on books, readers and writing. My kind of book, gets a thumbs up from "the box".
Parnassus on Wheels by Christopher Morley… Parnassus on Wheels is the story of Roger Mifflin, a sprite like figure who moves through the New England countryside with his traveling book wagon. His story shows how book selling can be one of the world's highest callings, spreading enlightenment with a dose of delight.
Originally written in 1917, and the prequel to Chistopher Morley's Haunted Bookshop, Parnassus on Wheels was reprinted by Melville House Publishing as part of their Art of the Novella Series. The book is a cute little novella. I love the actual physical printing of the book, which is paperback, with a nice cover that also includes a front and back flap integrated into the cover. I look forward to reading this "bookish" story too! Another thumbs up from "the box".
The Vacationers by Emma Straub… For the Posts, a two-week trip to the Balearic island of Mallorca with their extended family and friends is a celebration: Franny and Jim are observing their thirty-fifth wedding anniversary, and their daughter, Sylvia, has graduated from high school. The sunlit island, its mountains and beaches, its tapas and tennis courts, also promise an escape from the tensions simmering at home in Manhattan. But all does not go according to plan: over the course of the vacation, secrets come to light, old and nnew humiliations are experienced, childhood rivalries resurface, and ancient wounds are exacerbated.
This was a bonus book thrown in randomly to subscribers. My initial thoughts upon leafing through the book is that it really isn't really my cup of tea. The writing didn't grab me, and the story isn't something I would normally pick out. But that's not the fault of whoever put "the box" together, how can you match every book to every subscriber. A for effort, and it's always nice to receive a galley! (still wish it was the book Gemini by Carol Cassella)
My Thoughts on "The Books"… I love the selection of the two books that are actually part of "the box". They're cool because they are about books- Judging a Book by Its Lover is all about books and Parnassus on Wheels is a story taking place around books.
The Mug… I LOVE the mug! It's a good hefty mug, black on the outside and has printed in bright colors names of Banned Books! On the front of the mug there is also the word "Banned" embossed.
The Brass Book Darts… Love them. Something I would probably not buy on my own, but would appreciate as a special gift from someone. They are small and fit delicately on the top of the page you want to keep bookmarked.
The Kitchen Magnet… It says YAY! BOOKS! and went right on the refrigerator. It's not ceramic, just basically a thick piece of magnetic "paper" like you'd get in an office supply to make magnet business cards, and on top of that is glued a glossy piece of paper with the YAY! BOOKS! printed on it. Cute throw in.
The USB Drive from Short Story Thursdays… This USB drive is basically a promo for Short Story Thursdays. The USB drive contains a video introduction to Short Story Thursdays and the author/creator Jacob Tomsky, 2 videos of Jacob reading a short story and 2 pdf's of different short stories. I thought it was clever to present the material on a USB drive, but it made me feel a little like it was advertising as apposed to a bookish gift. BTW, What is Short Story Thursdays? It's "a weekly, email-based, governmentally recognized not-for-profit short story organization" and it's "designed to inject literature into your life on a weekly basis in a way that’s never been done before." You can find out more about Short Story Thursdays on Jacob's Website.
So there you have it, the contents of my Quarterly Co. Book Riot Box…
What do I think on the whole? Well, it was fun getting it in the mail, and for the most part I liked everything in the box. Was it worth the money? The actual value of the box is not suppose to be the actual contents. It's suppose to factor in "the experience" with connecting to the person sending it. Here's my estimate of the physical retail value… Books, $26; Mug, $13; Book Darts, $8, Magnet, $3, USB Drive, $0… for a grand total of $50. Of course that's not including shipping costs, and this box was pretty heavy, and that's an estimate of retail, not what someone in the business would pay. But all in all it just didn't feel like $50 worth of bookishness. What do you think? Would you sign up based on this box? Good value? Fun factor increases the value? Let me know what you think. I'm not canceling the subscription yet, I still like surprises, but wondering if I could spend that $50 better.