Humans really love getting mail and gifts, especially mail that is a gift—probably why subscription boxes have become so popular in their short 7 year life. There is a certain joy that comes with receiving gifts and taking inventory of all the new stuff you have. Yay capitalist-based desires! There’s a box for everything: Wine, dog treats, doomsday prevention, periods, and other things you may or may not have thought of. But it’s even better when the subscription services cater to a productive vice, like book-buying. There are hundreds of book boxes dedicated to different genres, themes, or niches, like YA, Chicklit, Scifi. Each box also comes with a little something extra, like stickers, pins, t-shirts, or bookmarks, the unboxing of which has become very popular on YouTube. But of all the book subscription services, there are only a handful of black boxes.
Generally speaking, the book publishing industrial complex doesn’t favor, uplift, or promote black writers. The loudest voices are straight and white and male, and black voices are shushed because our experiences are deemed “too niche” to have mainstream impact. But more than ever we need black stories about black lives, not only to show the world that we matter, but also to remind ourselves.
These boxes are curated by people with an avid love of black literature, and they can help you grow your personal library so you can become smarter. The world needs more smart people. These boxes are dedicated to showcasing black literature in its beautiful and glorious light. Below are five boxes that hype black authors and throw in some goodies that booklovers might also enjoy:
A subscription box and book community that promotes black literature and reading black books. Every month, the box curators sends out 2-3 books and small gifts. April’s box was Afrofuturism realness with Binti by Nnedi Okorafor and Kindred (graphic novel) by Octavia Butler. There stickers and cute knick-knacks and such, and when you subscribe you become part of their online book community.
Started in June 2016, LitBox is a black book subscription box that focuses on books by writers of color. In each box there is a newly released novel by a writer of color and a few bookish goodies based on the theme of the box. April’s theme was “Letting Go” and included Exit West by Mohsin Hamid. Here Comes the Sun by Nicole Dennis-Benn, The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas and History Is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera have been included in the past. My LitBox strives to fulfill its mission of celebrating writers of color, creating conversations surrounding their works, and building a community of booklovers.
When librarian at Purdue University’s Black Cultural Center Library, Jamilah Gabriel, decided that black books weren’t being promoted enough, she created the Call Number box. This subscription services, curated by an actual librarian features black literature and books by black authors within the black diaspora 4-5 goodies. April’s box had No One Is Coming to Save Us by Stephanie Powell Watts. Call Number lit box recently introduced a non-fiction box, in which they include books written by black authors that explore themes, ideas, and issues pertaining to the black community. This box could definitely help you tweak your book game and build your collection.
Red.Blk.Grl is a subscription box for black YA books by Black authors, the first of its kind. From their IG: “The Red.Blk.Grl subscription box was created based on the premise that black girls the world over deserve to read books about themselves.” Recently, they announced via the Instagrams an essay contest to win a 12-month subscription to the box. The inaugural box ships May 8, so you might be too late to order one, but if YA books by black authors is your gig, still holla. Each box also 3-5 small items that match the theme of the box.
A black box that uniquely combines books and food. In each box, there will be a book by a black author and one or a few “tasty treats.” April’s box had The Mothers by Brit Bennett, cool stationery, and yummy snacks. There’s even a bit of intrigue: inside the box is a riddled hint about the book to come in the next box. Ready, set, read!