Monday, June 13, 2016

Literary Guild -- Sure, why not?

Back around the turn of the century, I was a member of the Quality Paperback Club.  It was like the Columbia Record Club, only less intense.  I could accept/reject the monthly selections and then add/replace with my own choices.  As a young responsible working woman, I was good about managing my account, especially once you could do it online, and don't recall being stuck with any selections without my consent.

In fact, in perhaps the greatest box of books ever conceived, I ended up with Helen Fielding's Bridget Jones's Diary, a forever favorite of mine, and Nick Hornby's About a Boy.  I had read High Fidelity only months previous, thanks to the recommendation of my cool, hip, San Fran dwelling college roommate and was eagerly awaiting About a Boy, which I ultimately adored.  I have since read pretty much every word published by Fielding and Hornby.

Yes, I know some of my QPB books have since been placed in donation boxes, but I can look on my shelves right now and see some books from those days:  Joyce Carol Oates' We Were the Mulvaneys, Margaret Atwood's Alias Grace, anthologies of Dr. Suess and Winnie the Pooh for the children who were not even a glimmer in my eye at the turn of the century, and Barbara Kingsolver's The Poisonwood Bible (one of those books I still haven't read, but totally mean to).  I can remember the papers graded, lessons planned, and small stuff sweated in those days to earn the paycheck that paid for extravagances like a QPB membership.

A couple of months ago, I got to wondering what had happened to the old QPB.  The web address directed me a new site,  Similar concept to QPB.  You can buy two credits each month that are good for books.  If you make a choice from featured selections, you can then bundle some additional selections at reduced prices.  Free shipping if you purchase two books.  If you choose at least one featured selection, chances are you can end up with 2-3 hardcovers for about $11-12 a piece.  Cheaper than Amazon and your bookstores, more expensive than the library.

I'm still testing it all out, so this is not really a sales pitch or endorsement (though, I've been pleased so far), just sharing in case anyone has a few dollars to spare and gets a thrill out of receiving brand new books on their doorstep.

Here's the box I received about six weeks ago ...
Anna Quindlen's One True Thing was once my favorite book.  Though I have not connected with her later works with the same intensity, I always think her writing is strong.  One thing in Miller's Valley pissed me off, one thing left me scratching my head, and then the reflections on community/home that came at the end of the book really resonated with me.  I won't tell you to rush to read it, but I certainly wouldn't stop you.
I mostly read The Widow by Fiona Barton at the pool.  I was intrigued by the character of the widow, liked the way the story was being told, but felt like the book kind of petered out instead of peaking.  I never really felt surprised.  It's a solid read, but not quite the intense page-turner I anticipated. 

Do I regret my first Literary Guild box?  Not really.  Both books are new releases I would have made an effort to read (via credit, library hold, eventual ebook deal, etc.).
I'm a little dismayed, however, to be among the "target demographic" of Literary Guild, at least insofar as that demographic is defined by the box's inserts:  Life Alert, lifelike baby dolls, AARP life insurance, hair removal, and a cat food sample.  Um, nailed it.

I made some June selections for Literary Guild last week.  I'll post a pic of the box when it arrives. 


  1. HA - that's hilarious about the ad inserts in the box! And I've never heard of this service before...sounds a little similar to Book of the Month?

  2. Literary Guild is somewhat similar to Book of the Month. BOTM club has more interesting/tempting (to me) curated selections, but the choices for additional books are limited to the five monthly selections and/or the selections from previous months. Literary Guild's three "featured selections" are less interesting/tempting to me, but there are more titles and new releases overall from which to choose (or so it seems).