My love of reading came early, as the transmutation of a love of travel that went unfilled until adulthood. When I finally made my way out of the Midwest by way of a graduate program in England I made my way across Europe with budget airline tickets and student hostel stays. But instead of replacing my bibliophilia with wanderlust, I combined the two. I read The Dubliners in Dublin and The Sun Also Rises at sunny cafes in Spain. Reading novels opened up the cultural life of a new place in a way that I couldn’t just by visiting historic sites or wandering through parks. So when I became a journalist and traveled to countries all over the world, I kept up this habit, preparing for reporting trips to Kenya or Haiti by reading novels set in those places.
In reporting on difficult issues from the acid burn survivors in Pakistan or brutal initition rites for young girls in Malawi, I struggled with a new issue: making news of complicated, often heart-breaking issues from faraway places feel relevant to readers in the United States. For a solution, I turned again to my first love: novels.
I created THE ALIGNIST to be a guide to the wide world around us, and to build empathy and understanding for people who can feel far away from our own lives and experiences. It’s rooted in my love of reading and travel, but it goes so much farther than either one of things by truly giving back to people all over the world.
Here’s how it works: THE ALIGNIST is a quarterly box subscription that delivers a multi-sensory reading experience to your door. Each box features a different country and is centered around a novel. The plot of each novel is “unpacked” in a custom-made reading guide, or “roadmap.” The roadmap connects fact to fiction, by linking specific elements of the plot to real world realities through factual information, historic photos, expert analysis, or key statistics. This way, you learn as you read, without being taken away from the pleasure of a really great story. But there’s even more to experience with THE ALIGNIST.
Our “Just the Facts” boxes contain the novel and roadmap, but we have another option for those who want to delve even deeper into the world they’re reading about, just like I did when I read The Dubliners in Dublin. “The Whole Story” subscription option contains authentic local recipes, handmade crafts, and artisanal food to provide a connection to the culture of the featured country. Each of these items are ethically-sourced so you won’t just read about people in a particular country, but give back to them through fair wages. With “The Whole Story” subscription, you’ll get to experience some of the tastes and textures described in the novel.
Either option would be great for book club members, and would take the stress out of picking a new book for each meeting! But there’s also another element that makes THE ALIGNIST more powerful than reading alone, and that’s the connection we offer to authors.
Subscribers are invited to Q&As with the authors and experts on the issues that each featured novel addresses. The last three of these Q&As have taken place live on stage at a venue in New York City called The Greene Space, and have been supplemented with music, theater, and dance performances to offer an all encompassing cultural experience, or a “ticket to” the country featured in the latest box. THE ALIGNIST will also have a virtaul bookclub to connect with you all!
Want to learn more? Head to thealignist.com to see how it all works. Bookclubz members can use the offer code BOOKCLUBZ50 at checkout for 50% off the first box in a subscription. This is the biggest discount we offer, and you’re free to cancel any time.
Our next literary adventure will be to Thailand! If that’s a country you’ve been wanderlusting over as much as I have, sign up by April 5 to claim one of our Thailand boxes.