Books by Mail for Elderly Parents?
November 9, 2021 10:10 AM   Subscribe

My elderly mom and stepdad live in Brooklyn and are largely confined to their apartment, with live-in assistance. They're both big readers, but it's gotten to the point where even getting to the nearby library is a real chore. I'm wondering if there's some kind of online book service where I could arrange to have a book sent to each of them each month or six weeks or so, with a focus on their interests -- poetry and literature for my mom, history and film for my stepdad.
posted by AJaffe to Human Relations (12 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: It looks like the Brooklyn Public Library has a "Books By Mail" service - worth reaching out to a librarian to confirm the details, but this service may be available to them already (will require a doctor's note, but if they're already receiving in-home care that probably won't be a problem).
posted by mskyle at 10:17 AM on November 9, 2021 [7 favorites]

My mum (retired, but not elderly by any description) performs this service as a volunteer at her local library. She has a roster of clients and chooses library books for each of them, based on their stated interests and on lengthy conversations she has when she visits them. She borrows the books on their behalf, then takes them back when they're done. This is in the UK but I'd hope a similar service exists where you are.
posted by altolinguistic at 10:19 AM on November 9, 2021 [5 favorites]

Best answer: Books are Magic in Cobble Hill also does a great subscription service with different themes. I bet if you called them they would also be happy to help put something together or make other recommendations.
posted by something_witty at 10:19 AM on November 9, 2021

I'm wondering if there's some kind of online book service

I'd start with the library, but also want to point out that if any of them has a print disability they can apply to the state's Talking Book and Braille Library and get a player where they can get braille or audio books. Or if they're more tech savvy, download them to a device.
posted by jessamyn at 10:29 AM on November 9, 2021 [2 favorites]

Queens Public Library also does homebound/mail-a-book service. To the best of my knowledge, it's available to anyone in NYC. Depending on where they are located specifically, this might be an option for them.

If they are open to using e-readers, that can often be a great solution for people who read lots and lots because you have access to many, many titles (free through your library or for purchase) pretty much instantly.
posted by blnkfrnk at 11:19 AM on November 9, 2021 [1 favorite]

If one or both of them are visually impaired, the US has a great service. And call their library, librarians are so resourceful.
posted by theora55 at 11:52 AM on November 9, 2021

Adding my voice to check with the local library. My mother used a similar services at several libraries on and off for years and the books were dropped off and picked up by volunteers who added a social aspect to the visit by coming in and talking about the books to help with them picking books for the next fortnightly drop off.
posted by wwax at 11:53 AM on November 9, 2021

There are various book subscription services that ships them directly to address. Cratejoy has a list of them, in all genres, some even come with extra goodies. There's even one that sends you "gently used books"!

But an e-Reader, or even one of the larger Fire tablets like Fire 10, can do so much more. And they can get library ebooks as well through Libby/Overdrive app if supported by local library.
posted by kschang at 12:05 PM on November 9, 2021 [1 favorite]

Adding another book subscription service for you or others who are interested. Heywood Hill is a bookstore in the UK which does personalized subscription services. You do a consultation with them by telephone or online, and they pick out books according to your tastes. They'll ship worldwide.
posted by telophase at 12:40 PM on November 9, 2021

Commenting again to second the recommendation for an ereader or tablet if your parents are up for it. The killer app for me for an ereader is being able to enlarge the text to the size I like, which might appeal to them if they're willing to try.

The Brooklyn Public Library lends out ebooks and you can scan the list of available apps for their wares to decide which ereader/tablet would be the best. They can also get NYPL library cards which should allow them to check out ebooks from there.
posted by telophase at 12:47 PM on November 9, 2021

Best answer: In addition to the many wonderful library options, Book of the Month sends a new novel every month for about $20. There's usually a "literary fiction" or "contemporary fiction" option, which might work for your mom!
posted by Snarl Furillo at 1:54 PM on November 9, 2021 [1 favorite]

Book Riot does tailored book recommendations, either a list of recommendations or hardcovers delivered to the recipient via their TBR program, about $25 a month including shipping.

Their recommendations are always excellent; I haven't tried the hardcover program, but these folks know books.
posted by peanut_mcgillicuty at 8:26 PM on November 9, 2021 [1 favorite]

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