Books That Matter is a subscription service providing you with a book and little feminist gifts every month in order to highlight women's writing. Their boxes are meant to "capture an immersive theme specifically to enlighten, educate and empower." Always on the hunt for new female authors and good feminist literature, I decided to test this subscription service from August to October.
The first box arrived early in August and was all about women in translation. It included postcards, biscuits and badges - which I immediately had to sew on my shopping bag. This month's book was Gabriela Cabezón Cámara's novel The Adventures of China Iron. Always judging books by their cover, I would probably not have picked this one up in a store, but I am glad it found its way onto by bookshelf. The novel is a feminist re-telling of a famous gaucho story, taking you through Argentina's pampas and indigenous territories travelling alongside China Iron and the Scottish Liz, who educates her on all things British. The Adventures of China Iron offers a post-colonial perspective on South American history, incorporating feminist politics and an LGBT storyline (which includes some steamy scenes which I would not have expected from the YA-cover).
September's theme was "strong female lead." I found a nice tea, candles and pencils, as well as three prints inspired by this month's author Elif Shafak. Her novel The Bastard of Istanbul was more traditionally to my taste. It follows a young woman around her life in Istanbul and dives into the complicated relations of a family full of women. At the same time, Shafak explores Turkey's past and the denial of the Armenian genocide. I tend love a novel interwoven with history lessons and definitely enjoyed this one, though I thought that it could have done
with some more rigorous editing at times.
Finally, the Halloween edition brought me lovely self-care gifts, perfect for the darker months. Jeannette Winterson's Frankissstein: A Lovestory is another book I would not have bought, judging by both cover and title. Winterson tells the lovestory between a transgender doctor and a crazy professor, famous for his research of Artificial Intelligence. It's a wild ride between flashbacks to Mary Shelley writing Frankenstein and sexbots. From time to time interesting things are said about AI but they are embedded in overly philosophical dialogues that feel unnatural and over the top. Sadly, I also find the way in which transgender issues are discusses very problematic to say the least, if not occasionally offensive. I was not quite sure what image the author was trying to create of trans-people, but I found myself wishing she hadn't done it at all. The book tried too hard to discuss pressing social and political issues, and in my opinion it didn't really do any of them justice. For me, this one was not a success.
All in all, I am very happy to have subscribed to Books That Matter. It has fulfilled my hopes of providing me with books that would not have been on my radar otherwise. And as I am someone who doesn't mind reading a book I don't love every now and then, I am glad to have received all three of them. Book subscriptions in general seem to be a great way to broaden your literary horizon, and I am all here for that!