BoxWalla Book Subscription Box Review – August 2017
BoxWalla is a subscription box company dedicated to sharing uncommon food, books, films, and green beauty items, and they curate bi-monthly boxes for each of those categories. Subscribe to one or more, and add or switch interests at any time.
BoxWalla is run by a couple of self-declared “aesthetes” with a keen eye for meaningful details, which is immediately reflected in their packaging. The lidded box contains no trees at all—rather, it’s meticulously created from cotton scraps (if you look closely, you can see the thatched pattern of the woven threads in the box). This month’s box was literally overstuffed with things to read!
This box was sent to us at no cost for review. (Check out the review process post to learn more about how we review boxes.)
This review is of the Boxwalla Book subscription ($29.95 every other month).
The Subscription Box: BoxWalla Book
The Cost: $29.95 every other month with free shipping to the US.
The Products: Thoughtfully curated literature by prospective Nobel laureates from around the world.
Good to Know: Seeing a lower cost than you’re used to? That’s not an error! Here’s the scoop, according to the company’s Facebook page:
Starting with August, the book box will contain two books : one from a potential Nobel Laureate, a living writer, and the second written by a great writer from the past. Straddling the past, present and future of Literature, this box will be priced at $29.95 and will be continue to be delivered every two months.
Ships to: U.S. (for free) and international locations.
Keep Track of Your Subscriptions: Add this box to your subscription list or wishlist!
The box includes this info card, which explains a bit of backstory about each author and the subject matter that they cover in their work. The theme this month is “Language and Identity”.
The Candidate by Zareh Vorpouni – Value on Amazon $17.34 (Retail Price $19.95)
Vorpouni’s book was originally written in Western Armenian way back in 1967. I like that the translator opens the book with some words on the process—it brings the theme of the box into focus. The writing is rich, but not decadent in how it lays out scenes and details. Still, the pace is compelling enough that I eagerly gobbled up page after page. Plus, the story starts just after a death and launches you into the quietly wrought mind of its protagonist right away. It’s easy to get sucked in.
Book Summary on Amazon:
The Candidate is one of the most masterful, psychologically penetrating novels in Armenian diaspora literature. Published in 1967 at a time of political awakening among the descendants of survivors of the Armenian genocide, the novel explores themes of trauma, forgiveness, reconciliation, friendship, and sacrifice, and examines the relationship between victim and perpetrator.
The book opens in 1927 in Paris after Minas has found his friend Vahakn’s body on the floor of the apartment they share. In a fragmentary way, Minas tells of his meeting Vahakn in the cafés of the Latin Quarter; the friendship that joins them; their conversations with Ziya, a Turkish student in Paris; Vahakn’s murder of Ziya; and Vahakn’s suicide. At the core of the novel is the note Vahakn leaves Minas to explain the enigma of Ziya’s murder and his own suicide. The letter recounts Vahakn’s and his mother’s deportation from their village in the Ottoman Empire; his mother’s death and Vahakn’s adoption by a Turkish woman, Fatma, who rapes and abuses him; his feelings of alienation and self-estrangement in France; and his inability to adapt to life after trauma.
Known for his innovation of the Western Armenian novel, Vorpouni challenges the narrative elements of the conventional novel by playing with subjectivity and linearity. His melding of contemporary French literary and intellectual currents produces a literary and cultural hybrid unique in Western Armenian literature.
The Puttermesser Papers by Cynthia Ozick – Value on Amazon $10.56 (Retail Price $15.00)
The second book is an American-written portrait of a young woman in New York. This book is such a fun read. It reminds me of watching the Royal Tennenbaums, first because of the matter-of-fact, third-person way the narrator unveils our protagonist and her story, and second, because the protagonist, Ruth, is so. Darn. Fascinating. She’s smart, voracious, aspirational… and captivating to watch as she bumps up against her world.
Book Summary on Amazon:
With dashing originality and in prose that sings like an entire choir of sirens, Cynthia Ozick relates the life and times of her most compelling fictional creation. Ruth Puttermesser lives in New York City. Her learning is monumental. Her love life is minimal (she prefers pouring through Plato to romping with married Morris Rappoport). And her fantasies have a disconcerting tendency to come true – with disastrous consequences for what we laughably call “reality.”
Puttermesser yearns for a daughter and promptly creates one, unassisted, in the form of the first recorded female golem. Laboring in the dusty crevices of the civil service, she dreams of reforming the city – and manages to get herself elected mayor. Puttermesser contemplates the afterlife and is hurtled into it headlong, only to discover that a paradise found is also paradise lost. Overflowing with ideas, lambent with wit, The Puttermesser Papers is a tour de force by one of our most visionary novelists.
“The finest achievement of Ozick’s career… It has all the buoyant integrity of a Chagall painting.” –San Francisco Chronicle
“Fanciful, poignant… so intelligent, so finely expressed that, like its main character, it remains endearing, edifying, a spark of light in the gloom.” –The New York Times
“A crazy delight.” –The New York Time Book Review
Verdict: The only real disappointment of this month’s box is that it didn’t come in a box! I miss the usual crisp presentation, which was replaced with a typical mailing envelope. (Though the books do come in a little canvas drawstring bag inside the envelope.) But that’s a picky little qualm that’s not going to get in the way of the star of this subscription—the books! So far, I’ve been really pleased with the books in this subscription. Even when they don’t absolutely grab me, the unique viewpoints and under-appreciated authors they feature always pique my curiosity. I feel like I’m getting acquainted with history and culture while I read, too, partially thanks to the contextual information that’s provided on the card. It’s a neat exercise realizing what these authors have been through and looking for the places in their stories that have been influenced by the events or mood of their time. While I’m likely to get through the witty, charming Puttermesser Papers before the heavier The Candidate, I can say that every page I read of each book leaves me feeling more… enriched is probably the best word. The total value of this box using the Amazon prices is only about $28.00, which I think is fair, given the cost is $29.95 every other month. I think the curation and the information on the card covers the last few dollars’ difference. What a great box for adventurous readers!
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