It’s been a few years now since I joined Book of the Month. Honestly, I never thought I’d join the service, because for years I never really saw any books come through it that appealed to me. But then in June 2020, they were early-releasing Home Before Dark, which I’d been dying to get my hands on for months by then. It was a hit for my first book, and I decided to continuing giving BotM a chance.
For those who don’t know about the service, there’s a monthly fee which earns you a free book from a main set of choices. Whenever you don’t like the choices, you can skip that month, and you won’t be charged a monthly fee (so it’s not just adding up on you!). You’ve always paid one month ahead, but never more than that. You can also add on up to two more books at something like $10 each in your main package, which is a great price for hardcovers! There’s no limit to how often you can skip and no requirement for how often you must buy, which I worried about when I joined.
So that’s how the service works, and because it’s so easy to just skip, I’m really, really picky about which months I choose books. There were a few months in the beginning where I chose books that looked like they might be interesting, only to be disappointed when they arrived. There are no returns or anything, so you have to take your best guess. I got pickier, and for the most part, my choices have improved. Not always, but considering this is literally the only time I allow myself to try out new-to-me books/authors outside of the library, I’m okay with the minor risk. (Not that I don’t write down plenty of options to grab from the library if they don’t seem worth the monetary risk from BotM itself!)
Lately, the quality of books seems to be improving, or at least shifting to books more in line with what I like to read. (I’ve heard other longtime members of BotM say the books have been getting less and less in line with them, so I assume it’s probably the latter.) They seem to be trending away from literary, historical, and women’s fiction into a broader variety of choices, including mysteries, fantasy, YA, etc. It used to be three more literary choices, one thriller, and one “other” each month, but now it seems to be a different genre for each book, and that makes me really happy. The shift took place around March 2022 – which incidentally was the month I finally hit 12 books chosen. That’s how often I skipped, almost 50% of the time! Since March, I’ve gotten an additional eight books, including several add-ons for the first time. I still have months that I skip, but far less frequently.
Of those 20 total books, I’ve read (or partially read) 17, with three still on my shelves waiting for me. Of the 17, there have been five that I disliked, including three that I abandoned. The other 12 split into five that I enjoyed and seven that I loved. And of those 12 books that I liked, I only decided to keep six of them: Home Before Dark, The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue, The Ex Hex, The Hacienda, The Book of Cold Cases, and The Kiss Curse. The other six enjoyable reads weren’t ones I needed to keep – this is why I usually use the library – and they went off to Half Price Books along with the five I didn’t enjoy.
I would say that the service has been worthwhile for me. I get excited every month when the new selections come out. A good friend of mine and her sister also participate, and we have a little group chat where we can discuss our choices and our reads. As a person who often feels a bit too constrained when it comes to book-buying and such, it gives me a little mostly-safe risk, plus I learn about so many other books (especially new releases) that I no longer really hear about now that book blogging is a dying – or really, dead – thing. I haven’t really migrated to other platforms like booktok and don’t really plan to, and I don’t have book people that I trust for recommendations in those spaces. So this is my way of coping, I suppose.
PS. This is not a sponsored post and don’t get anything out of it. I think there’s some kind of referral code I could pass out but I don’t care enough to try to find it, heh. I just figured that after over two years, it was probably time for me to do a service review!