Review | Call Number | January 2017

Call Number is a “library-inspired monthly book box that celebrates contemporary Black literature and authors.” It costs $35.00 a month and includes one book and an assortment of bookish goodies. Perfect! Sign me up! Or don’t, because I’m already signed up!

This was my first month with Call Number and there was a pretty big hiccup so I won’t be reviewing this month’s book quite yet. The curator sent over an email and included a written letter in the box explaining that the publisher had some issues and was unable to fulfill the order. The book chosen was Speak Gigantular by Irenosen Okojie.

13.jpgIt’s obviously unfortunate that the books didn’t make their way to the boxes, but I don’t blame the curator. The letter from the publisher makes it pretty clear that it was their snafu. They also offered all Call Number subscribers a free copy of the ebook of both Speak Gigantular and Okojie’s debut novel, Butterfly Fish. I downloaded both and made a start on Speak Gigantular but I need a paper copy to make notes. So far it’s awesome – though very strange. Good thing I like strange!

So, although the book will come at  a later date, the box was sent out with tons of amazing stuff. It was really challenging to get it all in a picture, let me tell you!

The curator sent a great email that detailed everything in the box and why it was sent. She also included a little packet of business cards for each of the companies whose goods were included – complete with a book-shaped paperclip because that’s just how amazing this box is.


First up is the marbled mandala magnet. The curator says in the email, “In Outtakes, one of the characters, Alice, is described as being a person who changes kaleidoscopically, from yellow to blood red to magenta, displaying a variety of personality traits such as spiritedness, creativeness, and intelligence. This description reminded me of how complex we are as people, so I selected the Mandala Magnet as a reminder of that.”


This is a pretty magnet that will add a little color to our fridge.

She included the second item, this paper boat, because, “In Snapper, one motif that surfaces again and again is the paper boat that Luna and Cosmo create out of a restaurant menu, and how that boat becomes more worn and damaged by life each time it’s mentioned. But there is something carefree about building a paper boat and watching it float on water, and it’s something we typically only do as children. I included the Sweet Fleet paper boat as a way for us to get back to those simple joys when life beats us up and leaves us tattered.”

I am the least crafty person ever and I managed to sort of make a tiny boat, which I count as a huge win! I look forward to throwing it at Sam when he’s in the shower tonight.

As to the lips charm, the curator says, ” The third item I selected is unrelated to a particular story but represents the collection as a whole, and that is the silver lips charm. When I came across Speak Gigantular, I was immediately intrigued by the cover art, and what struck me was the absence of a mouth while the title, in contrast, prompts one to “speak.” It’s our mouths that allow our voices to be heard and our lips that speak the words we want to say and that we must say.”


I get why she included it and I think this little charm is cute, but I’m not sure what I’ll do with it. Perhaps I’ll give it to a friend who beads.

The last item she described was this library-themed postcard from Gas Station Burrito. “The library-themed item in your box is a postcard featuring a vintage high school library card from the 1960s. Send a quick note to someone and spread some library love all at the same time.”

I love this postcard! I love a bunch I found on their website and I send a piece of mail out every week so this will come in handy.

*HOLD THE PHONE* I missed this part of the email, where she described this badass wooden block inspired by Chinua Achebe. She describes it thusly: “In honor of classic Black authors, this month I selected an item in memory of Chinua Achebe, Nigerian writer often referred to as the “father of African literature,” and author of Things Fall Apart. The Writer’s Block represents a play on words, and is a handmade wooden block featuring Achebe’s likeness, signature, and cover art of four of his literary works.”

Is it possible and/or legal not to love this? I have numerous little bookish doodads on my desk but only the best doodads make it there (people are constantly giving me bookish doodads). This doodad will definitely make it!

While those are the only things she described, as you can see from the initial picture, there were a lot of other goodies in here! You’ve got the amazing old card catalog-inspired card for the book, a postcard that lets us know next month’s theme will be “This Is Me,” a sticker with the book’s call number on it, a PN 841 sticker, a letter from Irenosen Okojie for Call Number subscribers, and an “I Support Black Literature” bookmark.

I love this box! I’m looking forward to getting my book so I can add it to my diversity stats, but I’ll do that when I review the book.

As far as cost goes, y’all know that I’m more interested in curation than getting a great deal. That said, the value of just the things she described was about $40. Then you add in the additional goodies and the cost of shipping, and I do believe this box is worth well more than the $35 I paid for it.


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