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A Box of Stories




2020 was the year I’d told myself I’d make all the big changes in life. Not for any particular reason, it was just because the number looked well rounded and a good time as ever to transform myself. But, like all things which carry great expectations, the year fell on my shoulders with the weight of a small herd of elephants on each side and rendered me near crippled. But, we move – two sentences beginning with but? my English teachers are somewhere out there screaming into the void and you know what, I completely understand.

That little digression aside, what I meant to say was that 2020 might not have been the year, heck, 2021 might not even be, but I will continue to make small but steady changes to my life which increase the quality of it and honour me as an individual.

One of these changes (which I consider to be peak adulting) was to sign up for a book subscription rather than buy books regularly. Though I made this choice quite impulsively (in 14 minutes to be precise – totally talked myself into it through a monologue to a best friend), it carries a lot of weight. I will explain what my reasoning was but first, a little about the subscription itself.

I signed up to A Box of Stories after an Instagram ad (a fantastic one, might I add) popped up on my screen one morning. I sent it to a few of my fellow bookworms to hear their thoughts and while almost all of them were unconvinced by its randomised book selection, I sold myself on it quite instantly. With a delivery of 4 new books every two months (you can adjust this to be as frequent or as spaced out as you’d like), it not only keeps me on my literary toes, but also saves the books from being thrown into an incinerator to be lost forever – okay, that’s a bit dramatic but you get the gist. And if that didn’t sell you already, a percentage of their profits go to charities working for literacy which means a book you read isn’t just a book YOU read, it’s one that supports others to read as well!

The randomised nature of these book deliveries – though not everyone’s cup of tea – was one of the biggest factors in helping me take the plunge. This year I set out to read 50 books (I’m about 7 into it!) and wanted to move out of my comfort zone in terms of writing styles and genres. I’ve always been a sucker for YA books or romantic classics, but I’m determined to broaden my perspectives this year. Not giving myself a choice in what I pick up means I most definitely will get to read a bit of everything and besides, it feels like a bit of a blind date with a book and really, does it get any better than that?

Most importantly though, books have always been top of the list of my expenditures. But being able to control exactly how much I spend on books (£14.99 per box, including P&P) means I don’t run the risk of blowing my monthly budget or putting a dent in my savings because I find myself incapable of exercising self control in the face of literary arts. It (thankfully) stops me from using my debit card as though it is a gift card which exists solely to buy books (and book tickets for the theatre).

My first box arrived on the 22nd January with the following books:

  • A Long Way From Home – Peter Carey
  • All the Beautiful Lies – Peter Swanson
  • The Paper Lovers – Gerard Woodward
  • Boy Erased: A Memoir – Garrard Conley

I’m so excited to read all of these books and receive the next one in March! Have I sold you on subscribing yet?!

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Ayesha Khanom

Sometimes a teacher, sometimes a student, but mostly caffeinated. This blog is a terrible attempt at writing out my thoughts - think of it as the 'comments, complaints, and suggestions' section of my brain. Nevertheless, I hope that some of these words will find a place in your heart and will stay with you even when I do not. If you'd like to get in touch, send me a message on Instagram or leave a comment on one of these posts and I'll get back to you at the best possible time.

Recent posts

Review: The Paper Lovers

This is not a book where the marriages break or the characters fall out of love, this is a book that walks the very fine line between a mid-life crisis and a crisis of faith. This is a book that can be entirely summarised by this single line, "[it was] ordinary in every way except for the fact that it happened to have one of the world's finest gothic cathedrals in the middle of it".

Review: All the Beautiful Lies

All the Beautiful Lies is a harrowing tale of the cycle of intergenerational trauma and how unbreakable it is when you have no knowledge of other realities outside of your own.

Review: Boy Erased

Conley takes us readers on a riveting journey deep into the depths of the Bible belt of Arkansas, highlighting key points in his sexual awakening and the double lives those living in traditionalist religious households too often lead.

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