Category Archives: Gift Ideas

The Best Book Subscription Boxes

If you’ve dipped even your little toe in the murky waters of social media recently, I’ll bet that you’ve seen an advert for some kind of subscription service. From make up to meat, surprises to sanitary towels (no, really) it seems that there’s a subscription box for almost everything, though until recently a monthly box for book lovers has been a pipe dream for those in the UK.

But no more! There are now a wide range of book subscription services for bookworms in the UK, so you don’t have to pay a huge postage fee to enjoy a monthly book box from across the pond. And, dare I say it, it seems to me that UK bookworms actually have a more grown up selection of book subscription packages to choose from?

I’ve selflessly gone out of my way to test a few of these (best month ever) and am able to give you a round-up of the best book subscription boxes the UK has to offer. Curated by small teams of imaginative, talented and hardworking bookworms, they really are all fantastic:

Bookishly

bookishly subscription unboxing review

If you’ve ever had wall art envy for an amazing framed literary quote, you’ve probably come across a print from Bookishly. They’ve recently branched out from creating word art with Vintage books and have created a book club that sends out a monthly package containing a vintage book, a luxury tea sample from Jenier World of Tea and a curated item of stationery. If you know a bookworm who loves to curl up with an old book and a cup of tea before writing a thank you note on beautiful stationery, then the Bookishly book subscription is the gift for them. Or you, if you fit that description.

 

Illumicrate

illumicrate subscription unboxing review

Curated by Daphne at Winged Reviews, Illumicrate is the new heavyweight on the book subscription box market and it really packs a punch. Filled with items that match the Illumicrate ethos of “fun, beautiful and geeky” this larger subscription box is released monthly. The perfect gift for a reader who is passionate about their contemporary and young adult literature, the former teacher in me also thinks it would be the perfect way to lure a reluctant reader into exploring literary worlds.

 

Owl and Bear Gift Company

owl and bear gift company book subscription review

If you’re looking for a special gift for a loved one but don’t necessarily share their literary tastes, the Owl and Bear Gift Company Book Subscription service can help you out. Specialists in genre book subscriptions, they have a package to tickle every bookworm’s fancy whether they are young or old, or if their passion is for horror, thrillers or romance. If you’re not even sure exactly what kind of books your intended recipient prefers, they can still help you out with their bespoke subscription service which builds a package based on the recipient’s favourite authors.

 

The Willoughby Book Club

willoughby book club subscription review unboxing

Founded by Adam and Chloe Pollard in 2012, The Willoughby Book Club provides a personalised book subscription service with some really clever package options. Not only do they provide a Contemporary and Classic packages for those who want to hone their reading in a particular direction, they also provide hobby subscription packages for cooks, gardeners and natural historians. The Willoughby package I like the sound of most is, sadly, not for me… The Couples Book Club package which sends out two copies of the same novel so that you can read it together and discuss it. My boyfriend may make wonderful cups of tea and buy me the books I am embarrassed to be seen with in bookshops, but a reader he is not! Still, I think it would make a great gift to share with a close friend and it really is a genius idea.

Seville Orange Marmalade (complete with literary influences…)

Seville orange marmaladeOranges are not the only fruit, unless you’re making marmalade in which case, sorry Jeanette, but they pretty much are. I know that you can technically add tangerine, ginger, grapefruit and whatnot, but for me, the Seville orange reigns supreme because of its distinctive, tangy marmalade taste, though not before sugar has been added. I don’t know if you’ve ever accidentally eaten a  bit of Seville orange thinking it was something other than a bitter cooking orange, but if you have you’ll understand the quote from Much Ado About Nothing:

The count is neither sad, nor sick, nor merry, nor
well; but civil count, civil as an orange, and
something of that jealous complexion.

If you want to make your own marmalade, and eat your sandwiches as Paddington Bear, intended, it’s pretty easy following this handy how to make marmalade guide from the BBC. Geeky literary quotes about Seville oranges and marmalade on the label are optional, but great fun.

Emergency Valentine’s Gifts- Books

If you’ve forgotten Valentine’s Day, instead of the obligatory perfume, chocolates and flowers which reveal your faux pas why not give these bookish alternatives which offer a thrilling, and sometimes chilling, take on the love story.

 

PerfumePerfume Patrick Suskind

The dark tale of a man who becomes obsessed with a quest to bottle the ultimate perfume by capturing the scent of young women. A compelling novel, this has the added kudos of being Kurt Cobain’s favourite novel.

 

ChocolatesLike Water for Chocolate Laura Esquivel

A brilliant work of magic realism, Like Water for Chocolate tells the story of the forbidden love between Tita and Pedro. Kept apart from Pedro, Tita pours her feelings into the food she cooks, which then begins to have very strange effects on those who eat it…

 

FlowersTulip Fever Deborah Moggach

In 17th century Amsterdam, Sophia is trapped in a loveless but comfortable marriage to a much older man when she falls in love with a passionate young artist. An engaging read with art, intrigue and tulipomania. A film is rumoured to be in the works for 2013 so appear cultured by giving this to your beloved before the bandwagon gets rolling!

Alice in Wonderland Inspired Gifts

Alice in Wonderland is universally popular because of the whimsy and nonsense that fill every page. It means different things to different people, but no one can deny that it is one of those stories which has sunk into the British public’s collective consciousness to the point where the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party was included as a scene in this year’s Marks and Spencer Christmas advert alongside scenes from Christmas classic film of choice The Wizard of Oz and panto favourite Aladdin. If you have an Alice in Wonderland fan in your life, they would love any of the following gifts.

 


I’d be happy to add this pretty Penguin Hardcover Classic version of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass to my collection. It is a work of art on the outside and is complete with the original Tenniel images.

 

 

 

 


For crafty Alice fans, Everything Alice is a must have. One of 2011’s most popular craft books there is something for everyone in this gorgeous book. Given that the Alice in Wonderland bedspread from Urban Outfitters has sold out, this will give you some good ideas for Alice in Wonderland style decor for the home.

 

 

 

Grown up Alice fans will love this too cute little Drink Me bottle from The British Library which is filled with Austrian Grüner Veltliner sparkling wine. I’m sure the wine is delicious but I want this bottle soooo much. I love trinkets…

 

 

 

 

 

And speaking of trinkets this Drink Me pocket watch is also amazing. It doesn’t scream Alice in Wonderland, so readers and non-obsessives alike will love it but it would make a nice vintage-style touch to any outfit.

 

 

 

icon
iconI really love the Alice in Wonderland afternoon tea set pieces from Mrs Moore’s Vintage store which I think were on sale at Liberty a few years ago, but this tea pot has to be my favourite piece.

 

 

 

icon
iconI’ve seen a lot of amazing Alice in Wonderland themed jewellery (I have a pretty funky Disney Couture bracelet that I bought myself in my youth…) but I have never seen a piece of Alice in Wonderland jewellery as unique as this incredibly intricate locket… a once in a lifetime present for an Alice in wonderland fan.

 

 

 

If you want to decorate your tree with a touch of Alice in Wonderland, then the British Library has an amazing set of tree decorations inspired by the stories. You can go Alice, Hatter, Cheshire Cat, Flamingo, but my favourite is this cute Smoking Caterpillar tree ornament.

Gift Wrap for Readers

With Christmas coming up fast, I’ve been making a note of my favourite presents and wrapping papers for readers. If you have a book lover in your life, why not wrap them something exciting in one of the following?

Winter Playtime at The Bodleian Library

This gorgeous wrapping paper is a treat for readers and lovers of vintage alike. Winter Playtime is £5.50 for 6 sheets of paper from The Bodleian Library.

Penguin Classics

Also great for fans of vintage books is this lovely Penguin Classics Wrapping paper, £1.75 a sheet from Penguin.

She is too fond of books & it has turned her brain

For the no frills reader, jazz this monochrome wrapper up with a bright red ribbon. From £1.95 per sheet at The Literary Gift Company

Scrabble Wrapping Paper

Wordsmiths young and old will love this Scrabble wrapping paper. £2.50 a sheet from Not On The Highstreet.

Amazing 80th Birthday Present

I recently went to my great-aunt’s 80th birthday party and was presented with these amazing little books.

My cousin had them made for her mother and father who write poems (though my great aunt calls them writings) as 80th birthday presents and they contain 80 poems/writings that they have each written. She had lots printed so they could send them to family and friends. Not only are the poems really impressive, but my great aunts poems contain a lot of family history and remembrances which was just lovely.

My cousin is known throughout my family (and the world!) for being incredibly kind and thoughtful, but I thought that this was just the most amazing present, not just to my Auntie and Uncle but to the family as well.

Sian, we salute you!

I’m not a Philatelist, but…

I’m not a philatelist (stamp collector, but how cool is that word?) though I did once buy the royal mail Dracula and Frankenstein stamps to decorate my diary. I was about 9 at the time, and stamp prices weren’t quite as ridiculous as they are now. It was a short lived obsession, and while I do appreciate a nice stamp, stamps are not a major obsession for me.

However, I think I might be forced to rethink this after a colleague in work showed me these amazing book related stamps on The Royal Mail website.

Fantasy Stamps- Magical Realms

Nostalgic Stamps- Winnie-the-Pooh

I don’t know if I mentioned that I’ve decided it might be time for me to go back to old fashioned correspondace, but I have started sending a lot of letters to my friends living elsewhere, because who doesn’t love a proper letter? I think I might have to buy these.

Scriptum, Oxford

 

Scriptum, Oxford

 

I was introduced to this little shop on the weekend, and I could have spent years in here. It’s an amazing treasure trove of wax seals, leather journals, quills and assorted oddities. If I could have bought the entire shop, I would have. They don’t really sell reading books, the only books on display were some very expensive folio editions (cheaper to become a devoted member of the Folio Society and purchase heavily for a time) but if I ever win the lottery I will be going back to stock up my desks. I can see me now writing in a leather-bound tome with gold engraving, writing in an elegant script with a peacock feather quill and rainbow coloured inks. The perfect place to act out your Romantic/Gothic/Medieval/Harry Potter fantasy.

I came away with some vintage look postcards showing animals on vintage maps. There were two of each so I will have one to frame and another to send to lucky recipients. I will have to go back soon though. I’m sure that come pay-day I can justify my new-found need for a magnifying glass, butterfly patterned sticky notes and a few pretty marbled notebooks. Definitely worth a visit if you’re in the Oxford area, their website is http://www.scriptum.co.uk/