Books On Books On Books: Book Lover On a Budget + Summer Reading List | Pennies & Paper: Books On Books On Books: Book Lover On a Budget + Summer Reading List


Books On Books On Books: Book Lover On a Budget + Summer Reading List

Saturday, May 10

Books are my first love. While I definitely love all stories--plays, songs, television, movies, journalism, even photography--books have always been my go-to. Since my major is writing, literature, and publishing, this is definitely a good thing! Books are my rock: This past semester I was having some issues with anxiety and confidence, but I found that I felt much better if I carved out even a few minutes each day to read a book of my own choosing, one not assigned for class.


Unfortunately, the school year doesn't give me much time for finishing books, and my to-read list is nearly endless. I whittled it down to a definitive "summer reading" list (which can be found at the end of this post)--finishing this list is my primary reading goal this summer. Secondary is finishing all of the older books on my Goodreads currently reading shelf--books I've started and put down and haven't gone back to yet, but do want to finish. My tertiary goal is to read all the books I own but haven't read yet--some were gifts, some are ARCs, many are impulse buys from used bookstores and library sales.

Only moderately less important than reading the books is how I'm going to do so without going broke. As much as I would love to buy every book ever, that is both impractical and, more to the point, impossible. The library is the obvious choice, and in fact my local book-heaven is only a five minute walk from my house...but is soon closing for two years for renovations. Here are my other ideas for getting free or cheap books, both on my reading list and otherwise!

1. Go to a used bookstore.

Amazon does not count. Amazon is evil, both for publishing and other industries--there are many other options, all much more fun. There are tons of awesome brick-and-mortar bookstores around, and not all are as famous as the Brattle Book Shop in Boston (which, if you're ever in Boston, you do have to check out). Goodwills often have a cheap book section, although obviously the selection is limited. Then there are smaller, local used stores like Back Pages Books or anything from this list. Also be sure to check out your local library--the one in my town maintains a small sale room, plus they have massive book sales twice a year.

2. Get free e-galleys online.

This is a personal favorite of mine. I don't read a ton of e-books, so I like to use this to read samples. For example, if you sign up for Swagbucks [affiliate link], an easy way I like to make some extra cash and giftcards, you can get 60 points a month just by reading the excerpts posted by St. Martin's Press. (The books for May are Sixth Grave on the EdgeRebornLadies' NightAlways WatchingThe Witch of Belladonna Bayand Live to See Tomorrow.)

Other methods of getting free e-galleys are through NetGalley or the Penguin First to Read program (I use the latter regularly). In terms of e-books, keep an eye out for free ones...several book blogs post Friday Freebies (check out Crumbs From My Keyboard), some publishers do as well (such as Harlequin), and Barnes & Noble has Free Fridays. And of course there is always Project Gutenberg!

3. Email some publishing houses.

This works especially well if you mention you are a blogger or you email small presses. Big presses have more free copies to send away, so smaller presses may be more selective but have fewer people asking for ARCs (advanced reader copies). Most of them will ask that you send them any reviews you post or get published; while you probably aren't required to do so, it is polite (and good writing practice!). ARCs can also be found at book events and festivals.

4. Have a book swap.

Your friends and family probably have more books than they realize, or more than you know about. Invite several people over for a party, and have each bring a bunch of books they are done with. Swap away!

Alternately, this could be turned into a mini sharing library. Every person takes inventory of their books and keeps the list in a Google doc--it can be as complex or as simple as you'd like!

Summer Reading:

  • The Autobiography of Mark Twain, Mark Twain (University of California Press) started :)
  • It's Kind of a Funny Story, Ned Vizzini (Hyperion) DONE!
  • The Maze Runner, James Dashner (Delacorte Press) begun--rereading :)
  • The Untold, Courtney Collins (Penguin; First to Read e-galley)
  • Mambo in Chinatown, Jean Kwok (Penguin, First to Read e-galley)
  • Gone Girl, Gillian Flynn (Broadway Books)
  • The Goldfinch, Donna Tartt (Little, Brown)
  • Tinkers, Paul Harding (Bellevue Literary Press)
  • How the García Girls Lost Their Accent, Julia Alvarez (Algonquin Books)
  • In the Time of the Butterflies, Julia Alvarez (Algonquin Books)
  • Georgette Heyer's Regency World, Jennifer Kloester (Sourcebooks)
  • Fangirl, Rainbow Rowell (St. Martin's Griffin)
  • Cinder, Marissa Meyer (Square Fish)
  • One Hundred Years of Solitude, Garbriel García Marquez (Harper)
  • The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, Junot Díaz (Riverhead Trade)
  • A Clash of Kings, George R.R. Martin (Bantam)
  • A Storm of Swords, George R.R. Martin (Bantam)
  • Siren's Song, Heather McCollum (Spencer Hill Press)
  • The Dollhouse Asylum, Mary Gray (Spencer Hill Press)
  • Flawed, J.L. Spelbring (Spencer Hill Press)
  • Half-Blood, Jennifer L. Armentrout (Spencer Hill Press)
  • PODs, Michelle Picket (Spencer Hill Press)

What are your tips for keeping costs down when it comes to all the lovely books we want to read? What's on your summer reading list?


  1. love these tips! i'm a huge book lover, but i feel bad when i buy a book that looks awesome and after 3 chapters im like "blah". I waste a lot of money in books adn this is really helpfull. your list of books is great! i wrote one too in my blog :)

    1. Glad to help :D Checking out your list now (and I have to say, with everyone posting summer reading lists, mine keeps growing...)

  2. Love your tips! I've also found buying on Kindle instead of in print saves a good deal of money! (And takes up less space!)

    1. I personally just really like physical books, which is probably why I completely neglected to include that xD But e-books are great, especially for travel. I'm a Kobo fan myself though :)


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