Powell’s Books Indiespensable Subscription Box Review – Vol. 69
Powell’s Books Indispensable is a book subscription box by the iconic bookstore in Portland, Oregon.
Every 6-8 weeks, subscribers will receive another box of expertly curated new books with a focus on indie publishers. Note that this subscription raised its prices somewhat recently. Here’s what they said:
Dear valued Indiespensable subscriber,
As the curators of Indiespensable, we place the highest importance on offering unique, collectible books along with additional value that exceeds the amount we charge per installment.
Since we launched the program in 2008, we have maintained our commitment to these high standards. Unfortunately, the cost of books, slipcases, and shipping has climbed significantly. We must regrettably recover some of those cost increases in order to continue providing the same value and quality you expect from the Indiespensable program.
Effective with Volume 66, Borne by Jeff VanderMeer, our new volume price will be $44.95.
Thank you for your continued commitment to Indiespensable. We hope to bring you many more wonderful volumes in the future.
The Indiespensable team
My Subscription Addiction pays for this subscription. (Check out the review process post to learn more about how we review boxes).
The Subscription Box: Powell’s Books Indiespensable
The Cost: $44.95 a shipment (every 6-8 weeks)
The Products: Thoughtfully curated new books, with an interest in indie authors, plus fun extras
Ships to: Shipping is free in the U.S. and $12.00 per package outside the U.S.
Keep Track of Your Subscriptions: Add this box to your subscription list or wishlist!
There are two books in this box, which always makes me excited. Getting a second book is way better than getting a small gift or bookish item, in my opinion.
As usual, there’s a small booklet full of insights from the author and other contextual info to help bring more meaning to the reading experience. I always love paging through these booklets. They don’t have price tags on them, but I find that they add a lot of value to this box.
This month’s featured book is a story of love, loss, family, and identity in America’s present and past. There’s a bit of the supernatural in this book, and I love the way it’s used to weave together different eras.
Book Summary on Amazon:
Finalist for the National Book Award for Fiction
“The heart of Jesmyn Ward’s Sing, Unburied, Sing is story—the yearning for a narrative to help us understand ourselves, the pain of the gaps we’ll never fill, the truths that are failed by words and must be translated through ritual and song…Ward’s writing throbs with life, grief, and love, and this book is the kind that makes you ache to return to it.” —Buzzfeed
In Jesmyn Ward’s first novel since her National Book Award–winning Salvage the Bones, this singular American writer brings the archetypal road novel into rural twenty-first-century America. An intimate portrait of a family and an epic tale of hope and struggle, Sing, Unburied, Sing journeys through Mississippi’s past and present, examining the ugly truths at the heart of the American story and the power—and limitations—of family bonds.
Jojo is thirteen years old and trying to understand what it means to be a man. He doesn’t lack in fathers to study, chief among them his Black grandfather, Pop. But there are other men who complicate his understanding: his absent White father, Michael, who is being released from prison; his absent White grandfather, Big Joseph, who won’t acknowledge his existence; and the memories of his dead uncle, Given, who died as a teenager.
His mother, Leonie, is an inconsistent presence in his and his toddler sister’s lives. She is an imperfect mother in constant conflict with herself and those around her. She is Black and her children’s father is White. She wants to be a better mother but can’t put her children above her own needs, especially her drug use. Simultaneously tormented and comforted by visions of her dead brother, which only come to her when she’s high, Leonie is embattled in ways that reflect the brutal reality of her circumstances.
When the children’s father is released from prison, Leonie packs her kids and a friend into her car and drives north to the heart of Mississippi and Parchman Farm, the State Penitentiary. At Parchman, there is another thirteen-year-old boy, the ghost of a dead inmate who carries all of the ugly history of the South with him in his wandering. He too has something to teach Jojo about fathers and sons, about legacies, about violence, about love.
As is a tradition with books in this box, this novel is signed by the author and presented in a custom hard sleeve.
The Fire This Time: A New Generation Speaks about Race, edited by Jesmyn Ward – Value $12.75 on Amazon (Retail Value $16.00)
The second book in the box is a compilation of written work by talented, insightful voices of the modern era. These poems and essays explore race in America through history, through personal experiences, and through moving insights.
Book Summary on Amazon:
A surprise New York Times bestseller, these groundbreaking essays and poems about race—collected by National Book Award-winner Jesmyn Ward and written by the most important voices of her generation—are “thoughtful, searing, and at times, hopeful. The Fire This Time is vivid proof that words are important, because of their power to both cleanse and to clarify” (USA TODAY).
In this bestselling, widely lauded collection, Jesmyn Ward gathers our most original thinkers and writers to speak on contemporary racism and race, including Carol Anderson, Jericho Brown, Edwidge Danticat, Kevin Young, Claudia Rankine, and Honoree Jeffers. “An absolutely indispensable anthology” (Booklist, starred review), The Fire This Time shines a light on the darkest corners of our history, wrestles with our current predicament, and imagines a better future.
Envisioned as a response to The Fire Next Time, James Baldwin’s groundbreaking 1963 essay collection, these contemporary writers reflect on the past, present, and future of race in America. We’ve made significant progress in the fifty-odd years since Baldwin’s essays were published, but America is a long and painful distance away from a “post-racial society”—a truth we must confront if we are to continue to work towards change. Baldwin’s “fire next time” is now upon us, and it needs to be talked about; The Fire This Time “seeks to place the shock of our own times into historical context and, most importantly, to move these times forward” (Vogue).
Tombumble Peanut Butter Flake Candy, 2 pieces, 2.2 oz – Buy 8 pieces for $17.00 here
There’s also a treat this month! Woohoo! These chocolate dipped candies are essentially really upscale Butterfinger bars. One was slightly chunkier, while the other was smoother. The flaky peanut butter filling didn’t stick in my teeth quite as much, though. (Phew!) I loved how decadent these little bars were. What could be better than peanut butter and chocolate?!
Verdict: I really enjoyed this edition of Powell’s Books Indiespensable box. I loved the relevance of the stories and the human soul that permeated both books. They were beautifully intriguing and heart-wrenching at the same time. The candies, of course, were delicious. (I rarely meet a chocolate bar I don’t like…)
To Wrap Up:
Can you still get this box if you sign up today? No. Volume 70 is also already sold out! These boxes move fast. Sign up for alerts to get the next available book!
Value Breakdown: This box cost $44.95, including free shipping. Using Amazon prices, there’s about $28.26 worth of books in this box, but using retail values, there’s $42.00 worth. Add in the value of the artisanal candy, and I think the box comes out even. Whether the box is worth it or not, I think, comes down to whether you appreciate the curation, the presentation (the signature and the special slipcase) and the added context of the accompanying booklet. If you’re looking for good books at a discount, then this is likely not the box for you. But if you’re willing to spend a bit more to get a more well-rounded, expertly curated reading experience, then you may find this subscription worth it.
What do you think of Volume 69 from Powell’s Books Indiespensable box?