last year’s postbox: reading in heels;

UPDATED 26/11/17: I cancelled my Reading in Heels subscription today. This weekend, the company deleted several comments on an Instagram post of theirs – a vintage photo of Marlon Brando reading – bringing up the rape scene in Last Tango in Paris. When challenged on Twitter by a friend of mine, they chose to double down and write her off as “overexcited” rather than open up discussion or acknowledge that sexual assault, especially in cinema, is a difficult issue for many in their target market right now.

As Reading in Heels themselves said, we all have to make choices. I include this explanation here to help inform yours.

Subscription box fatigue always goes the same way.

There’s that initial thrill, when you fall in love with the concept of a box; and the rush when your subscription payment comes out of your account. There’s the joy when you get home after a hard day at the office and see something waiting for you that isn’t a credit card statement or a takeaway menu; and the anticipation when the parcel is in your hand.

Coupled, as usual, with the crushing disappointment when inside that beautifully-designed box is yet another shampoo sachet, moisturiser sample or a pack of fluffy stickers with flamingoes and surfboards on them (sorry, My Little Box: it’s not me, it’s you).

When you think about it, though, the beauty boxes that kicked off the whole subscription box trend isn’t really a sustainable model. As much as we all love discovering new brands – and hoarding miniatures to take on holiday – realistically, nobody wants to use a different moisturiser every week. The success of the model is built on inertia: you tell yourself you’ll remember to cancel next month, and before you know it that’s another fifteen quid gone.

But what if I told you there was a subscription box that was all but guaranteed not to be a disappointment?

Because that’s exactly how I feel about Reading in Heels.

Reading in Heels book subscription box August 2017
Reading in Heels book subscription box August 2017

Okay, the name is a bit cringe (the box is the brainchild of the team behind Running in Heels, an online women’s magazine I confess I hadn’t heard of) but the concept is a winner: a monthly lifestyle subscription box meets online book club. Each month, you’ll receive a specially-chosen work of contemporary literary fiction (in paperback, so it’s easy to read on the bus), boxed up with 3-5 beauty and lifestyle treats to enjoy along with your new book.

Once you’ve finished, the idea is that you’ll log on to the Reading in Heels website to rate and review that month’s pick, and chat with other subscribers about what they thought too!

Reading in Heels book subscription box August 2017
Reading in Heels book subscription box August 2017

Our first book was Nicotine, the fourth book by Virginia-born, Berlin-resident Nell Zink. It’s about the “controversially conventional” daughter of a self-described shaman, who falls in with a group of anarchist squatters who take over the run-down, rambling house in the New Jersey badlands that is her inheritance. At least, I think so, as I’ve barely made a dent in the book yet, but those first few pages of evocative prose have been enough to convince me I can get on board with Zink’s world.

Also in the box this month: a bar of Raw Halo vegan chocolate (nice enough, although I struggle to get on with vegan milk substitutes); a handful of Pukka “Womankind” cranberry and rose herbal tea; a supercharged Su-Man Facial Glow Rejuvenating Mask (which retails, according to The Internet, for FORTY-TWO POUNDS??); and a sample size of Legology’s Sun-Lite “lingerie for legs” cream. And if you like any of the brands featured in the monthly edit, you can pick up more of their products on the Reading in Heels website.

You get all of this for £12.95 including postage, which when you consider that you’d be paying £8.99 just for the book strikes me as excellent value.

So why do I describe this box as guaranteed not to disappoint? Sure, there’s every chance you won’t like the featured book, but even then you’ll still have something to read, debate, review and pass on to a friend. And for an extra couple of quid you’ll still get all the fun of a regular subscription box, without feeling resentful if it all turns out to be garbage. I can’t see myself using the Legology product, for example (as Kaite said when I posted a picture of the box on Instagram, there’s already such a thing as lingerie for legs: it’s called tights), but that’s one sample-sized product in a box I have already hugely enjoyed.

Reading in Heels will be shipping out their second box in a couple of weeks, so you’ve got plenty of time to sign up. If you do so before the end of the month and pop my name (Lisa-Marie Ferla) in the “notes” section at checkout, I could win a prize – but, frankly, I’m that excited for my next box it already feels like prize enough.

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