You know what’s made this week a whole lot more bearable for me? A Sally Rooney novel. After a day of depressing news and signing off emails with some variant of “stay safe”, I can’t wait to escape into an alternate universe where social distancing doesn’t exist and Corona is just a beer. I’m enjoying the book so much that the thought of finishing it is actually bumming me out, and I’m already wondering what escapist literature to read next.
This is where Wellread comes in handy. It’s an Aussie book subscription service where the titles are curated for you, and delivered to your door at the frequency of your choosing. The cost evens out to around $30 to $35 per book, which is pretty reasonable when you consider that most of the titles are new releases.
That’s not to say they’re bestsellers. More likely you’ll receive sleeper hits you hadn’t yet heard of – but they’ll be winning literary awards next year. And you can trust they’ll all be great reads, because that’s exactly why Laura Brading (a former book publisher) and Biz Cranston (a tech whiz) created the service – to help people become, well, well-read. They set up the business last year (in the pretty beach town of Austinmer, south of Sydney) to cater to readers who experience decision fatigue, and also to help avid readers who want to stay abreast of the most exciting new releases.
Subscribers receive a letter with each book explaining why it was selected; some notes on conversation starters (perfect for a book club); and access to a private Facebook group so they can chat with like-minded readers. Recent titles include The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead, The Dutch House by Ann Patchett and Olive, Again by Elizabeth Strout.
“For us, Wellread is about the immeasurable power of reading and the very real ways it can make us better and more interesting people,” says Brading. “We wanted to help people get off their devices and create something of value that brings together discovery, reading and joy.”
Wellread also has children’s book subscriptions for infants to five-year-olds (handy since most libraries are now closed). If you’re a Kindle user, you can still get many of their book recommendations by following them on Instagram, or gift someone else a subscription. These days, nothing says “I’m thinking about you” quite like 10 hours of welcome distraction.