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8.01.2016

Boxwalla Rekindled My Love For Print Books

Boxwalla Book Box
Illustration by my talented bff Melissa Pan
I have always been a bookworm. My mother told me that I would much rather sit alone in a corner with a book than play with the other children. I often read past my bedtime, even after the lights had been dimmed, resulting in my having to wear glasses from a very young age. I loved reading so much that I considered majoring in Literature in university, but ended up picking Linguistics, a seemingly more practical choice.

After I moved countries several times and spent hundreds of dollars shipping my beloved book collection between continents, I decided that I would give it all away and switched to using a Kobo eReader instead. I appreciated the ability to "carry" a dozen books with me at any given time, but I also missed the feel and smell of an actual paperback.


Boxwalla Book Box

Imagine my excitement when I found out about a subscription box featuring great, living writers from all over the world, potential Nobel Literature Laureates who "are must-reads but not as widely-read as they deserve to be". I love the idea of having someone curate my bookshelf and recommend titles that I may not ordinarily pick up at the bookstore, and the Boxwalla folks have not disappointed me!

For $49.95 every two months, Boxwalla delivers to your doorstep three thoughtful selections in a handcrafted box, along with a typed letter with a brief synopsis of each book. While they offer sneak peeks on their Instagram, they keep the actual titles a secret until the box makes its way into your hands, so there is always an element of surprise.

I will be reviewing their April Book Box*, which took me across the literary landscapes of Norway, Croatia and Lebanon, through the celebrated writings of Jon Fosse, Dubravka Ugresic and Elias Khoury.
Boxwalla Book Box"Morning and Evening" by Jon Fosse 
With the title evoking the sense of a birth and death, the book opens with the birth of a child named Johannes and ends with the last day in the life of Johannes as an old man, where everything was exactly the same, yet completely different. The narrative reads like a stream of consciousness, which was a little difficult to get into at first, but it got easier as I began to know Johannes through the details of his entire life revealed in loose fragments. Without giving too much away, the story reaches a crescendo with Johannes' inevitable departure from earth. The prose is simple, yet deeply affecting. 
Although the Norwegian Jon Fosse may not be as widely known in America as his student Karl Ove Knausgaard, he holds the distinction of being the world's most performed living playwright and Morning and Evening is regarded as one of his finest achievements.
Boxwalla Book Box

The Museum of Unconditional Surrender is a muralistic work that captures the shattered world of an exile and offers a portrait of war-torn Eastern Europe. The book is written in a variety of literary forms, a composite of fiction and autobiography, essays, diary entries and historical references. You will encounter, among other things, a box of jumbled and sometimes unexplained photographs, an art installation with the mundanities of everyday Soviet life, and a train journey with a suitcase full of apples. On the first page, the writer tells you to be patient and let the connections between the chapters "establish themselves of their own accord", and the images and vignettes in the book will gradually harmonize themselves to present a  haunting and original piece of work. 

Dubravka Ugresic was born in Croatia but went into exile in the Netherlands after she was labelled a public enemy for her anti-war and anti-nationalistic stance during the Yugoslav war. She is widely admired for her inventive approach to her creative work.
Boxwalla Book Box"Gate of the Sun" by Elias Khoury

Finally, Gate of the Sun is an epic retelling of the Palestinian saga, inspired by stories gathered from refugee camps through the Middle East over many years. It tells the story of Khalil, a peasant doctor engaging in a one-sided conversation with Yunes, a comatose aging freedom fighter, unable to accept the fact that his hero may never come to. The book explores the themes of of survival and loss, memory and dream, and love and destruction, questioning the held perceptions of heroism and martyrdom. The result, a magnum opus that offers different angles to the complex Palestinian struggle.

Elias Khoury is a contemporary Arab novelist who was born in Lebanon and found his calling at age 19 when he visited a refugee camp in Jordan. Gate of the Sun has been adapted into a film of the same name by Egyptian director Yousry Nasrallah.
In an interview with the Paris Review, the writer William Styron said that "a great book should leave you with many experiences, and slightly exhausted at the end." It is through reading this wonderful selection from Boxwalla that I can live multiple lives, giving me a window into unique perspectives I couldn't otherwise experience. Thank you for taking me out of my comfort zone and rekindling my love for print books Boxwalla!
P/S: You can read my reviews of the other Boxwalla boxes here
You can subscribe to the Boxwalla Book box here or purchase this set as a one-time box for a very limited time! 
* Boxwalla's April Book Box was kindly provided for consideration, however all opinions expressed are my own. This post contains affliate links.

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