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8 best book subscription boxes for a monthly literary treat delivered to your door

From classic titles to the works of feminist writers, there’s a package for everyone

<p>Bonus points were given where treats and extra information on the author were included </p>

Bonus points were given where treats and extra information on the author were included

We would all love to find the time to read more, but it can be hard to find new books and new authors to fall in love with. So what could be better than a book subscription box?

These monthly packages do all the leg work for you, all you need to do is select your favourite genre anywhere between feminist fiction and YA novels, then sit back and wait for the perfect book to arrive on your doorstep. They make the perfect present too, especially for someone who seems to have everything or anyone whose taste you may be unsure of.

Most also add reading-related extras such as bookmarks or postcards and invites to exclusive author Q&As or online discussions to chat about the month’s book. Some even include extra treats if you’re looking to really spoil someone, including bars of gourmet chocolate, beauty products and even bottles of wine.

Although some subscriptions concentrate on classic books and bestsellers, most offer the perfect opportunity to discover new titles or authors. In all cases, it’s worth double checking before buying that the company allows you to swap the book if you’re ever sent one you have already read.

Luckily, it’s not necessary to commit to a full year either. Most boxes are available as one-off gifts, rolling subscriptions or shorter plans of three or six months. It’s a great way to try a subscription first before you commit to a longer plan to make sure the books appeal. In nearly all cases, rolling subscriptions and one-off boxes work out slightly more expensive than longer-term subscriptions so we have included the cheapest possible price in our results, usually for a 12-month plan.

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How we tested

We ripped open the packaging on all sorts of book subscription boxes and got stuck into reading. For each one, we judged the choice of books, the extra insights offered into the work or author, the subscription’s flexibility, price and any extra treats included in the box. Most of all, we considered if we’d be thrilled to receive the box as a present and if it was something we’d look forward to receiving every month. Read on to find out more...

The best book subscription boxes for 2022 are:

  • Best overall book subscription box – Happily Ever After Book Box book and pamper subscription box: £15 per month, Happilyeverafterbookbox.co.uk
  • Best book subscription box for relaxing – Tea Time Bookshop bestseller book subscription box: From £13.99 per month, Teatimebookshop.co.uk
  • Best book subscription box for wine lovers – Words With Wine monthly wine and book subscription box: £25 per month, Wordswithwine.co.uk
  • Best online book club – Rare Birds book club: From £14 per month, Rarebirdsbooks.com
  • Best book subscription box for treating someone – Bookishly classics revisited book and chocolate subscription box: £18 per month, Bookishly.co.uk
  • Best book subscription box for feminist authors – The Feminist Book Box subscription: From £20 per month, Thefeministbookbox.com
  • Best book subscription box for wow factor – The Travelling Reader book subscription box: £34.99 per month, Thetravellingreader.com
  • Best book subscription box for teens – A Box of Stories young adult book subscription box: From £24.99 a month, Aboxofstories.com

Happily Ever After Book Box book and pamper subscription box

Best: Overall book subscription box

Rating: 10/10

If you’re always stuck for presents, look no further. Happily Ever After Book Box was founded in 2021 and is the first fully vegan book and treat subscription company in the UK, so you can rest assured it will suit everyone. Books featured are brand new but returned to publishers from book shops when excess copies are ordered. These would ordinarily be pulped or end up in landfill, but have instead been rescued for these fantastically priced boxes.

Subscriptions are sent out each month and there is no minimum term for ordering so you can cancel any time for maximum flexibility. A donation is also made to local animal rescue organisations with every subscription ordered. There’s no chance of being stuck with a book you’ll hate either. You can either choose a book from the “hot list” each month or select your favourite genre to guarantee every book will appeal. Options include romance and chick lit, sci fi and fantasy, and non-fiction, or opt for a surprise each time.

Every book comes with a vegan chocolate treat, beauty product, bookmark and a choice of hot drink – ours included two Taylors tea bags, a large bar of Danny’s Oat Milk dark chocolate and a generous tub of Bubble T body butter. It’s a lovely package to receive each month and we’d happily buy it for everyone we know. We also rate the YA book subscription box (£15, Happilyeverafterbookbox.co.uk), which contains all the same treats as the adult’s box but with a YA fiction book and is now our go-to present for tricky-to-buy-for teens.

Tea Time Bookshop bestseller book subscription box

Best: Book subscription box for relaxing

Rating: 8/10

There’s nothing better than sitting down with a good book and a cuppa, and Tea Time Bookshop does all the hard work for you. Available as a one-time purchase, a monthly pay-as-you-go or as three, six or 12-month subscriptions, the box can include either one or two books but only the most popular titles are included. Authors might include Maggie O’Farrell or Matt Haig, making this box a great way to keep up with the books everyone’s talking about. Other subscriptions are also available including crime and thrillers, historical fiction and children’s books.

Ours featured Still Life by Sarah Winman, a beautifully written love story that made us yearn for sunny days in Tuscany. That’s not the only treat in the recycled packaging either. Every subscription also comes with ethically sourced tea, coffee or hot chocolate, a bookmark and a snack-sized packet of biscuits – delicious double chocolate chip ones in our case. It’s a lovely way to treat a friend who’s always rushed off their feet and send them a well-deserved tea break from afar. The bookshop will even plant a tree with every new book subscription ordered to make this the ultimate feel-good gift.

Words With Wine monthly wine and book subscription box

Best: Book subscription box for wine lovers

Rating: 9/10

The UK’s first wine and book subscription club, Words With Wine, was created during lockdown when its founder Anna Smith missed the separate book and wine clubs she used to attend. This subscription aims to encourage recipients to try different wines and read new genres they may not necessarily choose for themselves, while supporting new authors, independent suppliers and small wine regions.

Subscriptions can be monthly or bi-monthly or ordered as a one-time purchase. Every box comes with a new – usually fiction – book and a full-size bottle of wine to complement the book. It’s possible to select alcoholic or non-alcoholic wine at the point of ordering and subscriptions also include membership to an online club to chat to other readers with the same book and wine.

Our box included a lip-smacking, citrusy white rioja plus a copy of If I Had Your Face, the compelling debut novel by Frances Cha which tells the story of four young women’s struggles in South Korea. We especially liked the accompanying cards that told us more about both the author and the wine including a food pairing suggestion, and it felt gloriously indulgent receiving both together.

Rare Birds book club

Best: Online book club

Rating: 8/10

Rare Birds Books was born when founder Rachel Wood realised she was constantly recommending books to people. She started an online book club that would take women’s writing seriously but allow books to be read for fun. The club now has thousands of members across 23 countries and even opened its own IRL bookstore in August 2021 in Edinburgh, Scotland’s only bookshop dedicated to women’s writing.

It couldn’t be easier to subscribe. Pay monthly or for three, six or 12 months and Rare Birds will find the very best new books around, then send two secret blurbs each month for you to choose the one you fancy. The title stays secret until the book arrives, wrapped in Rare Birds Books tissue paper and includes a themed bookmark.

Ours was the beautifully haunting yet curiously hilarious Sorrow and Bliss by Meg Mason, which the book club correctly advised was “perfect for fans of Fleabag and Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine.” We raced through it in no time and could then sign up to Rare Birds’ members portal, which features private event listings, recommended half-price books, author interviews and the chance to chat with other readers about the month’s choice. It’s all the fun of a book club without having to share snacks or leave your own living room.

Bookishly classics revisited book and chocolate subscription box

Best: Book subscription box for treating someone

Rating: 9/10

You’ll feel like it’s your birthday every month if you sign up for this lovely-looking subscription from Bookishly. Available as a one-off purchase or for three or six months, every package comes gift-wrapped in stylish paper for an extra doorstep thrill.

Inside, there’s a modern book based on or inspired by literature’s best-loved classics plus a bookmark and generous bar of artisan handmade chocolate, featuring a quote from the classic book that started it all. It’s an innovative take on a book subscription and a great way to link two works of fiction and encourage reading beyond the book sent.

We received Zadie Smith’s powerful On Beauty, loosely based on E.M. Forster’s Howards End, and a delicious bar of salted caramel milk chocolate made by Scotland’s Quirky Chocolate that we wolfed down in no time. It’s the perfect partnership that would make a delightful gift for anyone.

The Feminist Book Box subscription

Best: Book subscription box for feminist authors

Rating: 8/10

For books that truly pack a punch, this subscription from a collective of feminist book lovers who work for publishing house Hachette won’t disappoint. Subscriptions can be for three, six or 12 months but every box includes two books from feminist writers, a fascinating mini-magazine about each book featured, a specially commissioned piece of art on a postcard and access to an exclusive monthly event with one of the authors.

Books can be by household names or new talent and might be novels, poetry or non-fiction, so an open mind is a bonus as recipients are truly surprised each month. Authors featured could include the likes of Candice Brathwaite and Maggie O’Farrell, but our box included two books about women in areas of conflict in Afghanistan and Ukraine.

My Pen is the Wing of a Bird is an anthology of short fiction by Afghan women, while Żanna Słoniowska’s The House with the Stained-Glass Window tells the captivating story of four generations of women living under the same roof. We likely wouldn’t have read either without this subscription and loved the chance to dive into books that were completely new to us.

The Travelling Reader book subscription box

Best: Book subscription box for wow factor

Rating: 9/10

We were bowled over when we opened this weighty box from The Travelling Reader. Beyond the tissue paper, every box includes a nicely wrapped fiction book based on a different British destination each month and can be bought as a one-off or monthly subscription. Ours was a copy of Wendy Holden’s The Duchess, which offers a fictional look at the life of Wallis Simpson and is set largely in Berkshire at locations including Windsor and Fort Belvedere in Windsor Great Park.

But that’s not all. The box also includes everything else you’ll need to truly set the scene for uninterrupted reading including all-British drinks, snacks and gifts from the region of that month’s pick. In our case, that was Windsor. Ours featured a box of tea from Darvilles, the oldest established company in the town, and a box of quintessentially English clotted cream fudge made by Fudge Kitchen. There was also a notepad featuring a painting of Windsor Castle by artist Dave Thompson, a useful map of the town and a generously sized tube of hand cream from Woods of Windsor, plus an exclusive bookmark and a letter from the author. We especially loved the extra photos added throughout the book featuring locations mentioned so we could really imagine the story in situ.

A Box of Stories young adult book subscription box

Best: Book subscription box for teens

Rating: 8/10

If you’re desperate for inspiration for a tricky teen, this fantastic subscription box takes the pain out of present buying. A Box of Stories say that 200,000 titles are published in the UK each year but only 17 per cent make the bestsellers list, leaving many of the others ignored and unread. The company promises to unearth undiscovered gems and deliver them to your door as a one-off or a regular subscription. You can pause or cancel any time, select genres you definitely don’t want to include and will receive a box of four brand-new books each month. There’s even an extra book included in every third box.

Our box included coming of age story A Constellation of Roses by Miranda Asebedo, the pacey From What I Remember by Stacy Kramer and Valerie Thomas, zombie thriller Dread Nation by Justina Ireland and the intriguing The Summer We All Ran Away by Cassandra Parkin. Our teen was delighted with the haul and said she’d love to look forward to this arriving every month. Fancy a treat yourself? The company’s science fiction and fantasy box is one of their best-sellers with adults (£24.99, Aboxofstories.com).

The verdict: Book subscription boxes

All these boxes make a delightful present that would brighten anyone’s day and are a great way to discover new writers yourself. We love the range of genres and extra treats offered by the Happily Ever After Book Box book and pamper box. And any budding traveller will be charmed by the bumper package that arrives with The Original Travelling Reader subscription. However, if you just fancy something new to read each month, go straight for the Rare Birds book club.

Voucher codes

For the latest discounts on audiobooks and other audio offers, try the link below:

Discover more great reads from female authors in the Women’s Prize for Fiction shortlist 2022

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