Have you ever wished you could peek at the bookshelves of some of the most influential and famous people to see what they are reading? I most definitely have — as someone who constantly is trying to zoom in on bookshelves shown on any tv interview or photo on Instagram. I’m always curious what people — especially people I admire — are reading. Especially if it’s a book I also loved.
So when Literati, a book subscription box curated by influential folks from all walks of life, reached out to me to receive a complementary box I absolutely jumped on the chance to be able to give you guys my thoughts on it. I had really been intrigued by it anytime I’d seen it mentioned but hadn’t pulled the trigger yet.
So if you, like me, have been wondering about this service I’m excited to give you my honest opinions. Thanks again to Literati for giving me the opportunity to receive a box to be able to give you guys the scoop.
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Literati Book Club Review & Breakdown
What is Literati?
Simply put, Literati is a hybrid book subscription service that has a book club element to it. The thing that makes it different than most book subscription services, in addition to the book club element of it, is that the selections are handpicked by what they call Luminaries — authors, activists and other influential people — who lead the book club discussion each month within the app.
(They also have a Literati Kids but this review is for the Literati book club for adults).
How does Literati work?
When you join the club (or receive a gift subscription) you receive one book per month from your chosen club. Upon signing up, you get to read about each of the 13 clubs and the Luminaries hosting them as well. Then you will be able to pick your selection for that month.
Once your selection arrives, the fun part really begins! Download the Literati app and your chosen book club will load where you will be able to chat with other members AND the leader of your chosen book club. Within the app you also have access to the other book club discussions.
Mid way through the month, it will be time to pick next month’s selection where you can either stick with the club you chose OR choose a new book club to join in for that month!
How much does Literati cost?
If you pay for your subscription annually, it comes out to $25 per month ($299 annually). If you want to be on the monthly plan, the club costs $29 per month.
My experience with my first Literati box + what I chose
A few months ago, on a whim before receiving my first box, I had actually taken this quiz that helps you pick which Luminary’s book club would be great for you. I think I took it twice and I got Steph Curry both times. While he has had some great picks in the past and I LOVE his intention for the club, I wasn’t particularly into the current month’s pick so I set off to read about each club and what each pick was.
Picking my Literati book club selection
I had SUCH a hard time choosing between the clubs not only because so many of the Luminaries were people I admire and know but also because their book club missions really spoke to me. I had quite a few that I was interested in.
The ones I couldn’t narrow it down between, in the end, were:
- Cheryl Strayed’s Wild Reads book club — this club highlights beautifully-written books that have moved and inspired Cheryl Strayed. Read heart-led personal journeys rendered into narratives of courage, vulnerability, and wit—and then discuss them together to find common ground and new perspectives. These stories are for those who seek inspiration, vicarious adventure, and a re-connection with their own inner fire.
- Malala’s Fearless book club — this book club amplifies voices the world too often neglects. Malala showcases stories that introduce you to characters who capture your heart and show you the world through new cultural lenses. Expect to meet new writers and courageous protagonists—women with bold ideas.
- Jesymn Ward’s Gathering of Voices book club — Here are worlds so real, they feel like home. Here are voices rich in joy and in stories. This book club celebrates cultural outsiders whose words blaze on the page and transport you to a time or place you’ve never experienced before. Not like this. Take a seat with us on this virtual porch, here in this imaginary pine-ringed clearing, and listen. Be transfixed by the storied songs of Jesmyn’s literary kin.
- Susan Orlean’s Private Collection book club — this book club showcases an array of books from Orlean’s personal library. Explore heartfelt stories about identity, historical fiction, and creative non-fiction—together. You can expect to read exquisite writing and unforgettable narratives that you won’t want to put down.
- Kelly McGonigal’s The Joy Collective book club — this book club will help you to discover actionable strategies to bring more joy, compassion, and resilience into your life. Feel connected to something bigger than yourself with books that explore our capacity to find hope, courage, and belonging.
What I ended up choosing
I absolutely love Cheryl Strayed, Susan Orlean and Jesymn Ward as writers as well as the mission behind each of their clubs, however, I had already owned or read each of their selection’s for this month. So that left Malala and Kelly McGonigal (who I don’t actually know, to be honest).
I ended up choosing Kelly McGonigal’s club and her selection The Art of Gathering.
I had interest in Malala’s selection (Girl A) but I decided to branch out from what I normally read and go with Kelly’s because I loved the idea of her club but also it was a non-fiction book that I don’t know if I’d pick up on my own.
Once I received the book
I downloaded the app while I was waiting for my book to show up. It was an easy experience getting all set up with the app. I liked how it was laid out and how there is a place for “Before Reading” to talk before you start reading. The interface of the app is great and easy to navigate, in my opinion.
Then the book showed up! The packaging was really cute and the book also came with a bookmark, a note from your Luminary and a little catalog of all of the month’s selections with blurbs about them (which I thought was a nice touch).
A few days later I started reading and was able to join in with the discussion which is laid out really nicely. My impression so far, with this club, is that the discussion is really thoughtful thus far.
My review of Literati –what I loved & what I didn’t
I was pretty impressed with my experience, to be honest. I have a couple drawbacks but I think those are dependent on each individual person. Let’s get into them.
What I Loved:
- the variety in the selections — I was genuinely so impressed with how varied the selections were. There really was a book for basically any kind of reader. The selections lean more towards thoughtful and discussion-worthy. I am subscribed to many different book subscriptions and follow many different book clubs and this one, hands down, had the most interesting selections to discover that weren’t necessarily on my radar.
I feel like a lot of book subscriptions are just the obvious brand new bestsellers and new hyped books but this one had RANGE. There was a mix between popular books and under-the-radar books — both newer and older. I added MANY of the past selections and this month’s group to my library list because I feel like I was exposed to books I hadn’t heard of before. The discoverability factor was high!
- the Luminaries — I think the mix of who the book club leaders are was great! Such a diverse group of people who I think represent the club well. I love that they participate in the discussion and I feel like they are so thoughtful in their selections and club missions. People like Malala to Megan Rapinoe to Roxanne Gay to Richard Branson and more! It’s just a really cool idea to have book selections hand-picked by influential people. I’m so nosy so it feels like I’m creeping on their bookshelves. It feels more special, to me, knowing why they picked a certain book.
- the book club element — this is what makes Literati stand out! Most of the book subscriptions I have subscribed to do NOT have this. You get the book and that’s it. I personally like this added element because, considering the nature of the picks, they are encouraging good discussion about books that have a lot to talk about. It’s also great for accountability — you know, so you don’t just accumulate a bunch of books you won’t read. Plus, the discussion for my book (and the ones I perused for other books I’ve read) were really great! People are actually talking about the book and having really thoughtful conversations. If you are wanting a book club but can’t seem to commit to in-person ones, this one is great! There are also live author interviews and events you can join, too!
- the app — Initially I wasn’t excited about downloading an app to have the discussion but I decided to do it to be able to get the full experience. It ended up really impressing me. I love the way they have the book club broken up. You have a genera/pre-reading tab where people can talk about why they picked it or why they are excited. And then it is broken down by chapters and a “finished reading” tab. The best part, to me, was that when you update your progress on the app the first tab is marked “spoiler free” and it shows you all the discussion up to what you’ve read.
- the fact that you can switch clubs if you want each month — As I was trying to figure out which one I wanted, I realized there really is 2 ways you can approach being a member to Literati. You can pick each month based on the selection you think you might like the most out of all the clubs OR you can choose the Luminary you trust and go with their selections — even if they are outside of your comfort zone. I love that you have the option to switch and aren’t locked in to just one.
What I wasn’t crazy about personally:
- the price — it’s on the more expensive side compared to other ones I’ve done. I feel like often other subscription boxes I’m getting some sort of a “deal” or discount on the actual book by being subscribed OR I’m getting little gifts in the box. The price of this box is basically what I’d spend on the book at a bookstore and typically I’m a big library user for brand new hardcovers UNLESS I’m getting some sort of deal or it is a favorite author.
For some, the book club element would make it more worth it and, for others, it might not seem like a big enough pull for the price.
One thing I did learn that I don’t think is super obvious, however, is that as a member you are able to purchase the other selections at a member cost. So that could make up for it for those trying to save money.
Is Literati worth it?
I think Literati is worth it if:
- you are looking for something a little more with your book subscription. That something extra is the book club element of the service as well as the fact it is led by influential people you know. It’s a book subscription but with a built in book club to join and have thought-provoking discussions
- if you like books that make you think and challenge you as well as if you appreciate diverse voices and perspectives. All books with substance, as far as I’ve seen.
- are open-minded and love discovering books you might not have heard of otherwise
- are looking for a book club to join virtually that has thoughtful conversations
- if you are looking to give a unique gift to a reader in your life
I don’t think it is worth it if:
- you aren’t into the idea of discussing the book with the Luminaries or other members (seriously, just go get the book at the library then haha). The big selling point of this is the book club that goes along with it.
- you read genres that aren’t typically picked by the Luminaries and aren’t really wanting to branch out (and pay for a book you might not like). I think a lot of genres are well represented but there are some that are less so plus it skews more literary in my opinion (which I personally am into). My suggestion is to check out the past picks of each book club and see if you’d enjoy them or are interested in trying them.
- if you are looking for a book subscription that has little gifts and ~extras~ with it.
- you are looking for a book subscription service where the book is cheaper than buying it yourself at a store
- you are only looking for brand new, hyped books
My Final Thought
Literati is really impressive in concept (so unique with the Luminary-led book club element) and in the selections offered. I’ve been wanting to branch out with some of what I’ve been reading, despite reading pretty eclectically, and I feel like Literari provides the kinds of books to do that with. I feel like I’m inspired to follow along with a lot of the clubs, outside of my chosen one, to continue adding to my reading list. I absolutely love the mission of the book clubs to provide a one of a kind book subscription experience that feels more personal with the hand-picked nature of it.