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The Alignist Subscription Box Review – Winter 2019

Anna Rodriguez
ByAnna RodriguezMar 28, 2019 | 7 comments

The Alignist Winter 2019 - Box Top

The Alignist
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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.

The Alignist Winter 2019 - Box Inside Top

My Subscription Addiction paid for this box. (Check out the review process post to learn more about how we review boxes.)

The Alignist Winter 2019 - All Contents Front

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

The Alignist Winter 2019 - Letter Front

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.

The Alignist Winter 2019 - Roadmap Book Front The Alignist Winter 2019 - Roadmap Book Inside 1 The Alignist Winter 2019 - Roadmap Book Inside 2

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.

The Alignist Winter 2019 - Recipe Front The Alignist Winter 2019 - Recipe 2 Front

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!

The Alignist Winter 2019 - Monkey Bridge by Lan Cao Book Front

Monkey Bridge by Lan Cao - Retail Value $17 (found here for $10.07)

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.

The Alignist Winter 2019 - Vietnam Nam Lanh Estate Tea by Arbor Teas Package Front The Alignist Winter 2019 - Vietnam Nam Lanh Estate Tea by Arbor Teas Package Back

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!

The Alignist Winter 2019 - Bamboo Coaster Front

Bamboo Coaster

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.

The Alignist Winter 2019 - Blue Floral Tea Mug Front The Alignist Winter 2019 - Blue Floral Tea Mug Front On Bamboo Coaster Front

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.

The Alignist Winter 2019 - Bird Ornament Front

Bird Ornament

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!

The Alignist Winter 2019 - Coin Purse Front The Alignist Winter 2019 - Coin Purse Back

Coin Purse

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!

Keep Track of Your Subscriptions: Add this box to your subscription list or wishlist!

What do you think of The Alignist? Which country would you like to be featured in the next package?

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"THE ALIGNIST is a quarterly box subscription that will transport you to different corners of the world. Follow the struggles of a cast of characters through a war-torn country and trace hope across the ocean in a rickety boat. Fiction offers an entry point for making sense of complex conflicts a... read more.
Anna Rodriguez
Anna Rodriguez
Anna has been a fan of subscription boxes since joining Birchbox in 2013, but didn't become a true addict until discovering subscriptions she could share with her children. Her favorites include Kiwi Crate and Fab Kids.

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I love the idea but the price is way way too high for what you get, considering the purse and coaster cost less than a dollar. I’d rather just buy the book for $10. I hope they change their pricing because they are competing with Wordy Traveler who offers a lower price with better quality extras.

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Have you tried Wordy Traveler, Stephanie? That one’s been on my radar. Would love to see a review of it here!

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Hi Mary,

I have and I love their box. I think they choose unique books which engross you in another country. For me personally, I read a lot of books from authors of different countries that tell a fictional/non-fictional stories of their life. They also include a box of tea so if you enjoy this drink then you’ll enjoy this box.

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Oooh, the price point is too high for me, but I love the concept of this box!

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Hi Mary,

It is but let me tell you my secret. I stopped subbing from them about 6 months ago, not because I don’t like the box but because I don’t see the full value as I’m not a tea drinker (and they always include a full size bag of tea). Anyhow, when the new quarter comes out, I just buy the books on Amazon and save an enormous amount. It’s a fraction of the cost.

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That makes sense. Tea is one of those things I really want to like but haven’t figured out how to make fit into my day yet.

Book subs are another thing I really want to like, but I haven’t pulled the trigger on any yet because I tend to get all my books from the library. It feels like a box needs to offer something really exceptional to be worth the money. So I keep waffling. I should probably just go ahead and order one for a month and see how it goes. One month won’t break the budget if I decide it’s not for me.

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