The Must-Have Book Subscription for Your Female-Led Fiction Needs

An opened book decorated by surrounding flowers

33% of surveyed individuals claim to be reading more in 2021 than they were pre-pandemic. The study conducted by Cartridge People found that an astounding 75% of women also opt to read a physical book as opposed to a digital or audio version. And what better way to continue good reading habits than by signing up to a monthly subscription which sees a surprise book sent to your door?

Rare Birds Book Club pride themselves on delivering classic and hidden gems right to your doorstep, hoping to “put the joy back into reading by helping you discover the best of female-authored fiction, delivered to your door monthly”, as seen on their website. I caught up with founder Rachel Wood to find out more about her mission:

1. Tell me a bit about Rare Birds Book Club and how it came about?

“In a nutshell, Rare Birds is an online book club that’s dedicated to celebrating and promoting fiction written by women. I’ve always been an avid reader and I was constantly being asked to provide book recommendations for friends and their book clubs – I knew first-hand that many of my friends had the desire to read more but found the process of choosing a book kind of daunting; there was too much choice, and it was impossible to tell whether they’d like the book they had chosen. So, I started thinking about how I could offer a practical solution to that problem by curating a reading list and giving some insight on what the books would be about so that people could make the right choice for them. 

Lots of people like the idea of a book club but have a hard time fitting it into their schedules or running one themselves, so I decided to take that bit online so like-minded readers could find each other no matter where they were based. One thing I loved about studying literature in uni was going to class and listening to the lecturer provide all this context and insight to the book I’d never considered before, and I wanted to bring this experience into the book club – there was space for everyone to gush about what they liked (or hated), but I also wanted people to come and learn something or get some interesting food for thought.

The decision to focus on women’s fiction was an easy one for me; it’s something I passionately care about, and I often felt like works by female authors weren’t getting the respect and attention they deserved, and through the book club I wanted to address that in a positive way. “

2. What does a typical monthly subscription look like? What can customers expect to receive?

“Each month our team selects two books and members choose which of the two they’d like to read. We’re all about helping readers break out of their reading ruts, so we deliberately keep the titles a secret in advance – members get a secret synopsis to help guide their choices and the book isn’t revealed until they unwrap it. Then at the start of the new month, the book gets sent out in our signature wrapping and with an introduction to what they’ll be reading, from me. Then, the whole community meets back online at the end of the month for our online book club – we have insight from the author, plus some analysis from us, and a forum where everyone can share their thoughts.”

3. What ‘behind the scenes’ work goes into picking books for the subscription?

“We’re extremely focused on providing a good reading experience for our community, so we take the selection process really seriously. How it generally works is, we’re reading constantly and have a shortlist of books we think would work for the book club, then select based on providing a good balance of different styles and genres throughout the year. It’s important to me to offer good variety – we believe really strongly in having a mix of challenging books that will really stretch you, alongside books that are there to entertain you and be enjoyed more simply, so that you can choose whatever you’re in the mood for that month. The one thing every book has in common is that it’s written by a female author and it’s almost always newly published, so readers won’t have come across the book before.”

4. What is your favourite thing about reading? Feel free to tell us a bit about what genres you love and why!

“Something I love about reading is that it’s one of the few things left in modern life that can’t be done while juggling something else. There’s no scrolling through your phone while also reading a book, they can’t both be done at once. Reading requires your focus – it’s like a form of meditation in a way. Life is filled with distractions, and reading is a great escape in that sense; you step out of the stress of your own life and into another world for a little while. A good book will entertain you and the process of reading it will also offer you the chance to calm down and truly relax while you’re at it.”

I was fortunate enough to give the subscription a try myself and my goodness was it exciting – the uncertainty felt like Christmas Day, only it’s July! My surprise book was hand-wrapped in beautiful purple tissue paper – something I’m afraid Amazon just cannot compete with. Stay tuned for my own book review on ‘You and Me on Vacation’ by Emily Henry, I’m excited to delve into this one before Summer wraps up.

To find out more about Rare Birds Book Club please check out their website here.

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Wellbeing writer, host for The Inspired Narrative podcast and mental health support worker.

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