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! Check out all my Call Number reviews if you’d like.
Once again, there were a bunch of fun things in this box. Really, if you’re looking for something that’s very thoughtfully curated then this is it. So many bookish subscription boxes pick great books but just kind of throw the rest together. Not this one.
The book this month was The Wide Circumference of Love by Marita Golden. I’d never read anything by Golden before, but apparently she’s pretty well known and has published quite a few books. Based on my enjoyment of this one, I find it unlikely that I’d read anything else by her.
Did I hate the book? Not even a little. The premise was interesting; the story began in 2015 and described a woman who was left with no choice but to send her husband to a home for people with Alzheimer’s. As the book went on, it weaved in and out of time, telling the story of how this couple met, fell in love, and built a family, and how the husband’s sickness slowly destroyed him.
There were some interesting parts of this story and it raised quite a few questions for me that my partner was not at all interested in discussing with me. Like, what is a person’s responsibility when their spouse is essentially lost to Alzheimer’s? What if their spouse physically assaults them? Does their responsibility change? Can the spouse of a person with Alzheimer’s date someone else when their spouse is 100% gone and not even verbal anymore? Or must they live as though they’re married despite the fact that their partner is no longer providing anything you’d expect to get from a partner – love, companionship, affection, etc.?
While I did like some of the themes of this book, I found the writing to be aggravating. The dialogue made me roll my eyes plenty of time and there was so much time devoted to various character’s inner dialogues, where they just went over and over the same things over and over again. While this is likely what would happen to the child, wife, best friend, etc. of a person with Alzheimer’s, it doesn’t make for very compelling reading.
Towards the end I had to force myself not to skim because it was so clearly about to be cleanly wrapped up and it was so clear how that wrapping would take place. But I soldiered on through – you’re welcome! I’d also like to say for the record that this book has been getting A+ reviews from everyone else, so I may just have terrible taste, who knows!
Recommended for: People with loved ones who have Alzheimer’s who want to read literature they can relate to; people who like complicated love stories and don’t mind dramatic writing and super long inner dialogues
Does it pass the Bechdel–Wallace test? Yes
Author of color / main character of color / female author / female main character: Yes / yes / yes / yes – I’m pretty sure that’s the third month in a row that this sub has been firing on all cylinders. Good job!
Now, on to the bookish goodies! First up is a hand-painted card-sized piece of art that says “faith family love.” It’s really quite beautiful and is painted on heavy, high-quality off-white card stock. This isn’t really my style but I know my mom will love it – which is appropriate given the theme!
Next is a charm that says, “Remember the Moments,” which is relevant for a number of reasons. Obviously, the book is somewhat about memory, but also because the charm is there to remind us to enjoy moments as they come because we don’t know how many more we have. There have been several charms included in this box so it may be time for me to invest in some kind of charm bracelet or something! What do people wear charms on these days?
There’s also a 3D metal model kit of the Washington Monument. This is a fun, interactive item that plays homage to the fact that the patriarch of the family in the book was a prominent African American architect in D.C. – in a time when there weren’t many black-owned businesses in D.C. at all, let alone architects.
My favorite item in the box is this badass Quotable Note Card from the Unemployed Philosophers Guild. It has Zora Neale Hurston on the front, with an awesome hat and a lovely smile, and then on the back it has a bunch of stickers so you can add whichever are relevant to the person you’re giving the card to – and then you have extra stickers, yay!
Finally, we have this checkout card that comes with double sided tape that allows you to put it inside a book and then keep track of who borrows it. I actually have a whole kit, complete with old-school library date stampy-thing, so I’ll add this to it.
Oh, and of course, as always, there’s a bunch of other goodie-goodie stuff, like a note from the author about why she wrote the book (spoiler alert: no real reason), a card from the curator, several bookmarks (including one specific to this book and one that says I Support Black Literature), stickers, and business cards for the companies that provided bookish goodies this month.
Once again, this box is thoughtful and lovely and great. I didn’t love the book this month but I think that was mostly my personal preference. I can see why others would really connect with it and it’s certainly something I wouldn’t have picked up on my own – and that’s really what this project is all about! Well, that and shaming boxes that only include books by white men!