The Alignist is an exciting new book subscription that pairs a book from another country with items and information to make you feel like you're right there! It's an international adventure in a box! The $60 full subscription is called "The Whole Story." Once per quarter, subscribers receive a box that includes a "work of fiction, 'roadmap,' and an array of artisanal goods, authentic recipes, and art objects from the featured country to make you feel like you're in the place you're reading about." Optionally, subscribers can choose to receive the $30 "Just the Facts," which is a package containing just the book and roadmap. This is such a cool concept!
This is a review of The Whole Story box.
My Subscription Addiction paid for this box. (Check out the review process post to learn more about how we review boxes.)
About The Alignist
The Subscription: The Alignist
The Cost: $60 + free shipping
Please note: The Alignist used to be a bi-monthly subscription but has changed this year to a quarterly subscription. Some parts of The Alignist website have not yet been updated.
The Products: One book from an international destination with a roadmap filled with supplemental historical and cultural information. Subscribers to "The Whole Story" also receive recipes and products related to that country.
Ships to: US
The Alignist Winter 2019 Review
This issue's country is Vietnam! This letter was included from the founder of The Alignist, Beenish Ahmed. It gives some information on how to use the materials in the box and explains why she chose this issue's book.
To me, this is maybe the most important part of the subscription: the roadmap. Pages in the book have been designated as spots to refer to the roadmap and read some supplementary material about the history and culture of the subject country. It is really interesting stuff, and it correlates very well to what is happening in the book.
Recipes are a standard inclusion in "The Whole Story" subscription. Indeed, I feel like it would be difficult to understand a region without having at least some knowledge of the food! I am somewhat familiar with Vietnamese food, and I have to say I am really happy that neither of the recipes is for pho! I am not a fan, haha. Mango is not in season at the moment, but the spicy tofu recipe looks really delicious!
This was not an easy book to read, on at least a couple of levels. It is very well written and interesting, but the subject matter, being a refugee from the Vietnam War, is not a really pleasant one. The writing is lyrical, but because it is difficult, I found myself stopping and re-reading a lot. It does a fantastic job of conferring the feeling of being stuck between two places and informing the reader of how difficult it must be to be a refugee, even a relatively fortunate one. The constant switching back and forth between old and new country is somewhat jarring, but even though it makes it more difficult to read, I think getting jarred is the point. It is not a seamless transition. In any case, I appreciate a challenging book.
Vietnam Nam Lanh Estate Tea by Arbor Teas, 0.5 oz. - Value $3.50
I love a good strong cup of black tea, and this one was exceptional. Earthy and slightly sweet, this organic tea is Fair Trade Certified and actually from Vietnam. I drink tea straight without milk, lemon, or honey. If it is still flavorful, like this one, then it's a good tea to me. This sample packet provides enough tea for six cups. Tasty!
I couldn't find anything like this for sale online, so I am at a bit of a loss on value. I also might not be correct in thinking this is bamboo, but it does feel like it, and that would make sense. It's pretty, and it definitely has that Asian vibe.
Blue Floral Tea Mug - Estimated Value $12
This mug is so pretty! And it holds about 6 ounces of tea comfortably. I wish The Alignist included more information about the items included because I was very pleased to learn that this mug was hand painted by single mothers in Ho Chi Minh City via the work of Mai Handicrafts. Mai Handicrafts is a charitable organization that was founded to provide training and employment to impoverished women in Vietnam.
I was unable to find this pretty bird ornament for sale online, but I would venture to guess that it is also from Mai Handicrafts based on their current inventory. It's also very pretty! And if I am right about its origin, it is handmade and fairly traded from recycled paper. I've never seen anything quite like it! It's so unusual!
If I had to guess, I would say that this was also made by Mai Handicrafts, but I could not find the exact bag for sale online. In any case, this is made from recycled rice bags, and I actually love these. I have an enormous tote made from a rice bag, and it is incredibly durable. Plus I like the way they look - so colorful!
The Verdict: This was a wonderful first package (for me) from The Alignist! I never felt like I was actually in Vietnam, but I think I really have a much better appreciation for the culture and the plight of refugees. I think the items that were included were all really relevant, and they definitely added to the experience. the roadmap was also very informative and important in putting the book into historical perspective. I really enjoyed my Vietnamese experience!
To Wrap Up:
Can you still get this box if you sign up today? No, you will receive the summer box.
Value Breakdown: This box cost $60 shipped. Not including the printed materials, which have a non-tangential value, there were a total of six items included. That means each item cost an average of $10.
Check out the best book subscription boxes of 2019, as recommended by our readers!
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What do you think of The Alignist? Which country would you like to be featured in the next package?