12 best book subscription boxes
Love your summer reading? Get hand-picked books to your door each month, without having to lift a finger
We all know the power of a good book, but finding the time to seek out the latest bestseller or discover your perfect reading companion can be time consuming. If you begun your year with the intention of swapping your electronic devices for a paperback on a more frequent basis, then signing up to a book subscription box can take you one step closer to achieving your goal.
Whether you can’t get enough of crime and mystery books, are partial to a literary classic or want something more contemporary; the latest book subscription boxes deliver a book to your door on a regular basis (either monthly or quarterly) and much more. Many of the boxes offer added extras as a companion to the book; as well as the chance to join a thriving online book club community to share your thoughts and insights.
We tested out the latest book boxes, measuring them on value for money, content of the box and of course… the book itself. We’ve delved through different centuries, genres and text types to bring you 12 of the best book subscription boxes.
You can trust our independent reviews. We may earn commission from some of the retailers, but we never allow this to influence selections, which are formed from real-world testing and expert advice. This revenue helps to fund journalism across The Independent.
Reading In Heels: £10, Reading In Heels
Since its launch last year, Reading In Heels quickly gained a bit of a cult following amongst young women, and when our box arrived, it was clear to see why. Everything about the box is “instagram” friendly, from its decadent marble print box; to the curated gifts that come alongside its choice of modern, contemporary female-led fiction.
Yet it’s definitely not a case of style over substance: there’s no chick lit in sight. In our box we found Umani by Laia Jufresa – an inspiring debut novel set in inner-city Mexico. Given it’s only £10 a box, you might think the book alone makes it good value; but alongside it subscribers receive a range of curated items. We received Artisan Easter Eggs, wildflower seeds, face cream and super tea sachets. An affordable treat that’s a must-for busy women looking for some well-deserved “me-time”.
Crime and Mystery Book Box: £45, My Chronicle Book Box
My Chronicle Box offer a quarterly box with several different genre choices. We opted to try the Crime and Mystery Book box; which despite its seemingly high price tag, is actually incredible value. Our hefty parcel (which came wrapped up in tissue paper with an accompanying very important looking embossed-sealed letter) contained three different books. Enclosed were two paperbacks and one hardback (our personal favourite was new release and bestseller The Confessions by Jo Spain) that all centred on contemporary crime fiction.
Alongside this were also a bundle of other goodies, including a library print, loose leaf tea, a small notebook to keep track of our reading endeavours, handmade lip balm and exclusive printed interviews with the writers featured. A great purchase if you enjoy plenty of added extras and like to have several books on the go at once.
Each quarterly box will contain three of the best new releases, 3-5 luxury, bookish goodies and author exclusive content. Pay monthly or quarterly.
Books That Matter: £12.99, Books that Matter
New book box “Books That Matter” is one of those ideas that you can’t believe haven’t been around forever (and wish you’d thought of yourself!) A woman-run team; this subscription box delivers relevant, engaging and challenging pieces of female fiction, around themes of gender, race, sexuality and ethnicity, alongside a gift from independent female artists.
We received feminist classic The Bloody Chamber by Angela Carter (in a beautifully decorated hardback version); alongside an enamel pin from The Literary Emporium and a “mind the gender gap” tote bag. There’s also an online forum to meet and chat with fellow readers and the box aims to shine a spotlight on smaller, independently published work.
Book Box Club: from £27.99, Book Box Club
If you’re looking for a box that also offers a real sense of community, Book Box Club is the one for you. It’s ‘themed’ boxes extend far beyond the choice of reading material. We received their “Into Dystopia box” which combined a YA novel (Out Walk Eris) with some perfectly themed items: An arrow pen (a nod to dystopian classic The Hunger Games) a bracelet with an inscription from TV show The Handmaid’s Tale, a “supplies to stay alive£ notebook and an invite to a monthly online book club.
One of the best things about Book Box Club is its desire to fully embrace its theme: once you’ve read the box and used your items, you’re invited (via a scroll no less) to an online book club with not only other members but the author themselves.
Illumicrate: £29.99, Illumicrate
Illumicrate is a quarterly fiction box, crammed with books and themed goodies. Books come from any genre but tend to focus on Young Adult and Speculative Fiction in particular. What’s great about Illumicrate is the sheer variety of items received, all of which were truly unique and complemented our reading experience.
Our box contained three different books (one of which, Artemis by Andy Weir, was an exclusive cover edition just for subscribers), along with a fragrant “Reading in Bed” candle, gold printed JK Rowling quote, a delicate piece of jewellery and 2018 diary. Illumicrate pride themselves on working directly with independent suppliers and book publishers directly, meaning lots of what you receive is exclusive in every sense of the word: subscribers often receive advanced reader copies, author letters and items that are made specifically for Illumicrate. If you’re looking for something that you definitely won’t find on the high street, then definitely give Illumicrate a try.
Spanish Story Boxes, from £17.99, One Third Stories
We all know it’s important to foster a love of reading from an early age, but “One Third Stories” offers more than a book subscription box for children: it promises to help them learn a language at the same time.
Available in French and Spanish, each box comes with an original, illustrated story-as well as flashcards with key words (to reinforce children’s learning) and an audiobook too. As your subscription progresses, the books become more challenging to build on and develop your child’s learning.
Along with being educational, the books are also beautifully illustrated and One Third Stories is something that any parent and child alike would love to receive.
The Couples Book Club: £44.99, The Willoughby Book Club
Who says reading has to be a solo activity? If you’re determined to find something other than television to discuss with your other half, then investing in The Couples Book Club could be the perfect solution. At £44.99 for a three-month subscription, you’ll receive two copies of a specially curated novel (based on a short survey in which you explain your likes and dislikes) one for you and one for someone special in your life. The psychological thriller If You Knew Her perfectly matched the responses we gave, and is definitely something we’d have opted for.
There’s no added extras or fancy packaging with this book box, but we still love its simplicity and how it gets couples reading together.
Rare Birds Book Club: from £10, Rare Birds Book Club
At just £10 a month, Rare Bird Book Club is one of the cheapest on our round-up. The monthly book box delivers a beautifully wrapped book at the start of each month (and unlike most on our list, it’s letterbox friendly, so no waiting in for the postman) Whilst there are no other products included, we did receive some information on the story itself and why it had been selected. There’s no curated aspect to this book club, meaning what lands through your door truly is a surprise.
In turn, there’s no fixed genre either – the only thing each book you receive has in common is it that it features a female protagonist, making it a great choice if you want to challenge yourself by reading a variety of texts. The accompanying “online digital book club” is a nice touch.
Date Night with A Book: £9.95, Date Night with A Book
If you’re on a budget, Date Night With A Book offers a book subscription box for under a tenner. The no-frills, brown paper package includes a specially-selected book (subscribers have to provide information on their five favourite books as well selecting their genre from a drop down list); a cup of tea and a hot-chocolate sachet. A fussy drinker? Don’t worry, the site’s easy to navigate drop-down menu means you can also select your favourite tea and hot chocolate flavours too!
Date Night with A Book is a simple concept at a great price.
Classic of the Month Club, from £16.00, Bookishly Tea and Book Club
If your goal this year is to revisit the classics, then this affordable “Classic of the Month” club is a fantastic option to explore the literary canon. Each month, subscribers receive a true classic (think Alice in Wonderland and Sense and Sensibility updated with a modern, bright cover (perfect for brightening up your coffee table) and a curated bag of herbal tea to sip alongside it.
At £16 a month, one could argue that the classics can be purchased inexpensively online, but since you are paying for the experience of having one selected, beautifully covered and sent straight to your door with a perfectly-fitting bag of loose tea, it it well worth the expense.
Classic Poetry Subscription by Bespoke Verse: £35, Not on the High Street
Don’t have the time to read a whole novel each month? Classic Poetry Subscription sends a themed box of beautifully printed verses-appropriate to the season. On subscribing, we received a wooden stand to proudly house our verses. Then each month we received three printed postcard sized verses to display, all perfectly matched to the upcoming month.
April’s box included Spring by Gerard Manley Hopkins and Transformations by Thomas Hardy. Not only do they provide a quick dose of the classics but they also double up as decor items-and look beautiful framed.
Wildest Dreams Box: from £18, Wildest Dreams
Bookworm and blogger Zoe created Young Adult themed Wildest Dreams Box whilst battling with a chronic illness and hunting for an affordable book subscription. Each box is very much about pampering and "me time", as well as being themed around the latest release.
We received April’s Hocus Pocus theme, wrapped in purple tissue paper and containing a handmade "hubble bubble" bath bomb, some vibrant loose-leaf "witch’s brew" and a copy of hot-of-the-presses The Witches Blood (which was only released weeks earlier). We loved Zoe’s dedication to each box’s theme and if you’re a fan of YA fiction and like to keep up with new releases; Wildest Dreams Box offers an affordable and fun solution.
Verdict: book subscription boxes
Our top pick is Reading In Heels, for its combination of challenging, female-led fiction and luxury goodies:all at just £10 a box. Continuing our love of female-fiction is Books That Matter; a fantastic concept. Finally, if you’ve only minutes to dedicate to your reading ventures then don’t fret: sign up for Bespoke Verse’s Classic Poetry Subscription Box for beautifully presented snapshots of poetry.
IndyBest product reviews are unbiased, independent advice you can trust. On some occasions, we earn revenue if you click the links and buy the products, but we never allow this to bias our coverage. The reviews are compiled through a mix of expert opinion and real-world testing.