Just the Right Book! is different than the other book subscriptions I’m reviewing this year in that a person actually picks a book out just for me – as opposed to picking out one book to go to all subscribers. There are numerous subscriptions to choose from. I choose a 12-month softcover subscription, which cost me $240.
I filled out a fairly long and involved profile to indicate what genres, authors, etc. I’m interested in. It was a pretty thorough survey, and the people sending the books are actually working in an indie bookstore so I had pretty high hopes that I’d get something great.
In addition to checking boxes for genres and authors, there was also room to “tell us more.” This is what I wrote:
I stay pretty up to date on the latest bestsellers and prize winners but I’m looking for under the radar books that I might not have otherwise picked up. I tend to focus too much on what people are talking about (I’m a contributor for Book Riot so some of that is necessary for my job) and end up missing out on some of the best gems.
My book came in the mail in a bubble wrapped envelope and the book itself was wrapped in wrapping paper. It was very exciting and felt like opening a gift. Great packaging! However, I was pretty disappointed when I opened it up and saw that the book they chose for me was Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff.
I wasn’t disappointed because it’s not in my wheelhouse – it’s totally in my wheelhouse, which is why I read it quite awhile ago. I wouldn’t blame them in the slightest for that, I do read a lot of books, except that, as you can see above, I specifically said that I’m up-to-date on the latest bestsellers and prize winners.
If you look at the Wiki for this book, you’ll see things like, “It was perhaps the most talked about English-language novel of 2015, and was on more critics’ end-of-year lists than any other,” and “Fates and Furies was nominated for a National Book Award, but ultimately lost to Adam Johnson’s Fortune Smiles.Amazon named it their book of the year, and President Obama and several celebrities proclaimed it their favorite book of 2015.”
So, you know, great book to send to people but when I specify that I’m up-to-date on bestsellers and prize-winners? And the books people are talking about? And want something under the radar? And you send me “perhaps the most talked about English-language novel of 2015”? Not impressed.
The good news is that Just the Right Book! makes it easy to give feedback on their choice. They also offer a guarantee and I could actually return this book if I wanted and they’d exchange it for another one. I’m hesitant to do so because it is a good pick – just not for me or for what I asked for. Let’s hope they do better next month!
Oh, yeah, the book – it looks like I didn’t review it on my Goodreads account, but I think most people in the literary world know this book? If not, you should maybe check it out. I actually didn’t love it as much as others did, but that’s likely due to all the hype around it and the books people compared it to.
Recommended for: Family drama, literary fiction, complicated female characters; long but fast read
Does it pass the Bechdel–Wallace test? Yes
Author of color / main character of color / female author / female main character: No / no / yes / yes.