Book of the Month: Celebrating the Magic of Books
Today, I received my tenth book (actually books number 9 and 10 came in the same box) from my dear friends at BOTM – Book of the Month Club. So I thought it might be a good time to pause and extol the many virtues of BOTM. Now, even though I am an unapologetic book nerd, it might come as a surprise to many that I was initially pretty reluctant to join BOTM. The first time I heard about it was through a sponsored ad on Instagram – and while there is certainly something to be said about the power of social media, it should not come as a surprise that I was a recipient of this targeted ad since books and reading are pretty much on top of the list of things that I post. But I still was not sure if it was for me because at first glance, I thought it was a book club and I am one of those bibliophiles whose reading preference is solitary and introverted. Never been a member of a book club. The first time I saw the ad, I looked away but then, they seemed to pop up anytime I went on Instagram and curiosity drew me in.
Book of the Month has been around since 1926. Yes, that is a long time. It has evolved from its earlier beginnings and is now the most popular U.S.-based book subscription service. Each month, it provides its subscribers with a selection of five hardcover books to choose from. I was initially skeptical when I signed up for the monthly plan, and held on strongly to the possibility that I could opt-out if I wanted to, but 10 books later, I can happily say, I am here to stay.
Here are ten of the things that I absolutely adore about BOTM
Discovering new authors. Every single book I have received from BOTM is from an author that I am discovering for the first time. It started with The Windfall by Diksha Basu and what a journey of discovery it has been since then.
Exploring different genres. Now this just sings to the heart of the eclectic reader that I am. The selections for a particular month are usually an eclectic mix of genres – non-fiction (usually a memoir), mystery, thriller, young adult, fantasy & sci-fi or historical fiction. There is something for everyone who likes to read.
For the People, By the People. It sounds a bit corny but it is true. The monthly book recommendations are not made randomly. There is a meticulous process that goes into each month’s selection. It is a process that involves the BOTM Editorial team, the Readers’ Committee and the Judges who include book bloggers, magazine editors and celebrities. More on the process here. On occasion, you might get a note on the free bookmark that comes with your book, with a blurb from one of the judges. Check out the one that I got last September from Kim Hubbard on Celeste Ng’s Little Fires Everywhere, a book I completely adored.
You Can Skip a Month. If none of the selections of a particular month catch your fancy, no need to worry. You can skip a month, no questions asked, no penalty charges.
You don’t have to choose only one book. Even though you are obligated to select a book from the selections of the month, you might decide to pick another book from the month’s selection or something from earlier months.
Book Selfies on Instagram. Like I said, I discovered BOTM on Instagram and it is always such a magically thrilling treat to see the book selfies posted by the community of readers.
Early Access to Books. I did not realize this until this month. My book to watch out for for April is Clemantine Wamariya’s The Girl Who Smiled Beads. The publisher is releasing this book later on this month but because BOTM subscribers have to make their selections in the first week of the month (by the sixth of the month to be precise), I got access to the book early.
Branded Books. Each book you receive from the BOTM has a nice BOTM logo on the top right hand side. I know this might sound like a geeky undeserving detail, but I am actually looking forward to the day when I am reading a BOTM book in a public place – airport lounge, train, park – and I look up and see someone else with a BOTM branded book. It will be like running into a family member.
Rich archive. This is somewhat related to #5 but I really like that the BOTM site has a rich archive which allows you to see past selections. And even though most of the popular earlier titles are sold out, it gives you a chance to see what was up for grabs as far back as 2015 when BOTM resurrected in its present online format
Book Mail is the Best Mail. After you have made your selection for the month on the BOTM website, there is a celebration on the screen, akin to drums and red carpet, then you wait for the mail man to deliver your books so that you can read, love and repeat the process the next month.