Staying in touch during quarantine is hard. There are only so many calls, texts, Zoom meetings, and carrier pigeons one can wrangle. If you’re looking for a new way to say “thinking of you” to friends and family more than six feet away, why not send some good old fashioned literary care packages? Whether you’re looking for a box of bookish-themed gifts, like bookmarks and pins, or just want a bundle of books, bookstores across the country have care packages for every type of reader.
Local independent bookstores are making it easy to send books and themed goodies to the special bookworms in your life. With many stores closed to the public, care packages are also a great way to support stores that normally rely on in-person sales. Publishers Weekly reports that booksellers have found care packages are boosting online sales.
If you’re like me, you might be missing the magic of coming across the perfect book when browsing the bookstores shelves. Thankfully, stores are boxing up some of book magic by tapping their booksellers’ expertise to personalize packages according to favorite genres, authors, or even desired mood. Check out the list below, and you might just find a self-care package in there too.
For a Sensory Experience
If your idea of a relaxing read includes enjoying a soothing cup of tea in a bubble bath by candlelight, Palabras Bilingual Bookstore has you covered. Their Relájate & Read Kit includes a bath soak blend, calmaté soothing tea, and a scented candle.
For Staying on Theme
It wouldn’t be a literary care package if it didn’t have a theme. Changing Hands Bookstore is offering care packages that include your choice of new hardcover or paperback book plus gifts themed like, “Arizona Artisan Love,” “Positive Energy,” and “Delightfully Offensive.”
Inkwood Books’s packages are technically “moving bundles,” but with 30+ themes for books and gifts, there’s definitely hand-picked care going into the package.
For Upping the Romance
One of the first stores to try care packages, romance-only bookstore The Ripped Bodice has care packages you can customize with books and goodies like socks, greeting cards, and pins. You’ll have to wait to curate your bag. As of this writing, there were “about 500 people on the waitlist,” according to their site and about 10 days to get to place an order.
If you’re needing romance ASAP, Love’s Sweet Arrow, another romance-only bookstore, is offering “surprise boxes” at two price points with books and goodies to “help readers practice self care during the next month.”
If you know any kids (or parents) that are bouncing off the walls, a care package might motivate them to sit still for at least two minutes. Loyalty Bookstore is offering “Indoor Kids Bundles” with books, puzzles, and toys. You can specify age and interest (dinosaurs!). Loyalty is also offering adult “Stay the F Inside” bundles.
Mahogany Books is selling “Brilliant Black Kids Book Bundles” for different age groups. Each bundle comes with books picked to engage young readers about “ideas of race, social justice, and empathy.”
For the Straight-Up Surprise
If you or your lucky giftee are battling boredom, why not keep it all a mystery? Capitol Hill Books will mail out a “Grab Bag” based on your budget and genre preferences. Get a photo of the stack before it ships or go “blind stack” to keep the mystery going.
Give Magic City Books your favorite book title and top three adjectives for the reads you’re looking for, and they’ll curate a box of books for you. I’ll take “cozy” times three, please.
Fountain Bookstore can size a bundle for any budget, starting at $25. Snag a grab bag by setting a budget and telling them a little about what you’re looking for, like plague literature or unicorn adventures—or both, if you’re looking to mix it up.
For coffee lovers, Trident Bookstore is also offering a “mystery bag” of 4–6 new books, plus a bag of coffee to fuel your reads. You can specify author/genre preferences at check out.
For more ways to support your local independent bookstore, check out this these suggestions.