One of my targeted Instagram ads for a while has been ‘Books That Matter’, a monthly feminist book subscription service that sends out a book and a selection of gifts all created by women. The founder and director of Books That Matter, Molly Masters, was inspired to start the business while in her second year of studying English Literature. She realised that her curriculums up until that point had been dominated by men. She was finally discovering a whole new world of literature that she had never been introduced to before, literature written by women. BTM was the first female-owned start-up to win Start Up Sussex and after one year of trading was the UK’s Female Start-Up of The Year. Having now been featured in Forbes, Stylist, and many more, Molly’s dedication to feminist literature in the form of this box highlights our need for reform in our early reading curriculums in schools and is a wonderful way to support female creatives. I had been tempted by it for a long time and after researching it I finally gave in, purchasing myself three months’ worth of boxes. This would include 3 different books and multiple gifts, I have since received the June Box and the July box.
Past themes and books include:
- April 2020: ‘Phenomenal Women’- Beloved by Toni Morrison
- March 2020: ‘Banned Books’- The Colour Purple by Alice Walker
- December 2019: ‘Season of Sister’- She is Fierce by Ana Sampson
- May 2019: ‘Feminist Dystopia’ The Water Cure by Sophie Mackintosh
The first package I received in June was themed around the 25th anniversary of ‘The Woman’s Prize’ for fiction. In 1991, the Booker Prize Shortlist comprised of only male writers despite more novels that year being published by women, The Woman’s Prize was then started a year later. It is now a yearly prize with authors such as Zadie Smith, Andrea Levy, Helen Dunmore and more having won the prize in the past. I received the first box right on time and in wonderful condition. The box (pictured below) opened easily and all the items inside were wrapped in tissue paper. Already it was clear that time and planning had gone into the packaging. The book that was sent in the package was Tayari Jones’ An American Marriage, the 2019 winner of the women’s prize. An American Marriage is about newlyweds Celestial and Roy who are torn apart by circumstances that neither of them could have ever imagined. The chair of judges for the women’s price 2019 Professor Kate Williams said the novel ‘This is an exquisitely intimate portrait of a marriage shattered by racial injustices’.
Alongside the book was a selection of gifts designed by female designers and made by independent female-run companies. The first gift was a tote bag with all the names of the past prize winners designed by Emma Lemon. A reading log in which you can track and review all the books you read. The final gift was a keyring from the brand ‘Flamingo Candles’ with a quote from Ali Smith,
‘Books Mean All Possibilities They Mean Everything.’
The theme for the July box was ‘Liberté, Egalité, Sororité’, focusing on intersectionality within feminism and the importance of sisterhood. The book that came in the box was Three Women by Lisa Taddeo, a book that fits incredibly well with the theme. Taddeo’s non-fiction novel tells the stories of three women, exploring themes such as female desires, needs, relationships, and obsession. The box also included two minimalist art prints by the brand Milk and Moon depicting the beauty of the female form.
There was also another print made by Florence Given to promote her new book Women Don’t Owe You Pretty, the stunning print is titled ‘Check Your Privilege’. There was also a pamper box with samples of products by the ethical brand UpCircle. The brand is completely vegan and homemade in the UK as well as being cruelty-free, repurposed, and sustainable. The final gifts were a pop socket, a holder for the back of a phone designed by Yvie at Yoco Studio. Once again the box came on time, beautifully wrapped and clearly well thought out. I sadly already own the book that was sent, this is one of the downsides of the surprise book aspect. On the upside, I have a book that I can gift to one of my book-loving friends.
I paid £45 for three months’ worth of packages, making each box £15. I think that the boxes are definitely good value for money. The books included were all full-length novels and the items were of good quality and useful, no tat that would just get chucked into a drawer. Each item had a purpose, a message, and clear use. Also knowing that the items were all designed by women-owned businesses and picked by a women-owned business for the box makes them all the better. Both boxes also had booklets with information on the theme and the companies who made the gifts and interviews with the authors. The team clearly put a lot of thought into the themes they are choosing each month and then research the topic immensely. They support many small female-run businesses as well as female authors. By purchasing the box you are not only supporting the Books That Matter you are also supporting all the female creatives whose products have been featured, are being featured, and are opening opportunities for more women to be featured in the future.