reading habits

My Readings List [+ Where to Get Free Books!]

I love to read. Between October and December 31, I read 53 books. You read that right: 53 books in 3 months--that's about 17 books a month, that's 4 books a week. If a book sits still long enough, I'll probably read it, even if I have no interest in it. I'm just that kind of person. I'm just that kind of reader. 

On my iPhone, I keep a Note with a list of the books I'm due to read: books I've downloaded from Amazon, books I've bought, or books I plan to review. I thought I'd share my reading list because it will keep me accountable (I really need to stop downloading more books...) and because I'm always a little nosy about what other people are reading. 

Here's my list: 

  • A Magical Highland Solstice, by Mary Morgan
  • Highland Spy, by Madeline Martin
  • All the Dead Girls,  by Rita Herron
  • Highland Vixen, by Mary Wine
  • The Weatherhouse, by Nan Shepherd
  • Meet Me at Willoughby Close, by Kate Hewitt
  • The Sheriff's Mail Order Bride, by Ann B. Harrison
  • The Montana Bride, by Jeannie Watt
  • The Trail of Ted Bundy, by Kevin Sullivan
  • The Other One, by Jiffy Kate
  • The Intuitive Eating Workbook, by Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch
  • The Goblin Child, by Michael Forester

In case you were wondering: yes, that is quite a lot of books and yes, I am a bit overwhelmed as I've fallen desperately behind on my reading list! 

I'm always on the hunt for affordable (or even free) books to read while I'm between books. If you're like me and you can read a book in a day easily, then you can end up spending a lot of money on books--or just going without, which isn't the ideal situation! I can't afford to buy 53 books in 3 months, that's for sure. Here are my favorite ways to get affordable, or even free, books. 

1. The Library, of course (or library loan programs!)

If you use an ereader (like me) and have a library card (which I don't because I live outside city limits), you can often borrow library ebooks for free through your library's website. If you need help, you can ask a librarian and they can explain it all. (Also, ask for their recommendations because librarians have the best taste in books!)  

2. NetGalley

NetGalley is a website where you can sign up and receive ebooks (via your Kindle or just as a PDF download) to read in exchange for a review. You can review them on NetGalley, on your blog, or on Goodreads (preferably all three). Since signing up a few weeks ago, I've read tons of books and written lots of reviews; some of them are great, some of them are not-so-great, but it's a good opportunities for those looking to start reviewing. Or who just love to read and review books! 

3. Amazon Prime Reading

If you have Amazon Prime, they now have a program called Prime Reading, where you can download books for free to read. I love this program because I've found some new authors that I love (like Emma Prince) and fully plan to buy all their books! 

4. Kindle Unlimited

If you don't have Amazon Prime, but do have a Kindle reader, I highly recommend Kindle Unlimited. I've read some amazing series through Kindle Unlimited. It's $10.99 per month and you can borrow up to 10 books at a time. Kindle Unlimited has helped me discover some books that I absolutely love, as well as some authors that I cannot get enough of. When I find a book I like, I always buy the next book in the series, even if it's on Kindle Unlimited. 

How the Kindle Changed My Reading Habits

I was a book purist for the longest time. "I only read paper books,"I sneered to coworkers, friends, and family. I hoarded my thousands and thousands of books (taking up a stupid number of bookshelves in my house) and prided myself on their covers, their contents. In 2012, I started an endeavor to reread every book I owned -- which I successfully did, thankyouverymuch -- and found myself, well, bored.

I bought more books to read, but that got expensive. I started going to Goodwill to buy books for cheap -- somedays, they offered buy one, get one free or for 50 cents days, which is irresistible to book lovers. But in a small town, the book selection was slim. They had, easily, about 20 copies of all three Shades of Grey books and hundreds of Stephen King novels, as well as a surprising number of Harry Potter books, but that was about it alongside a multitude of cookbooks from the early 1990s and self-help books featuring women with shag haircuts on the front.

Occasionally, I would find well-worn copies of great books I'd always wanted to read -- like Possession by A.S. Byatt or Prodigal Summer by Barbara Kingsolver. Usually, I walked out empty-handed, wondering if I would need to reread Harry Potter for the 72nd time. 

Then, in November, I got a Kindle. It's not a fancy kind -- it only downloads and stores books, not movies or anything else. It's black and white only. Simple. I expected to use it occasionally. 

I did not expect to use my Kindle as much as I do -- which is nearly every day. I've ready over 20 books on my Kindle since I received it, a truly insane amount. I now read every night for at least an hour. 

Mostly, I find myself reading books I normally wouldn't read. When I buy physical copies of books, I'm often buying paperbacks of books I've always wanted to read. On my Kindle, I read books I can't find in stores, old books I've wanted to read forever, and new releases for less than the copy of a hardcover. The variety of books I read is greater, which makes reading much more fun. 

I'm not 100% sold by the Kindle though. It's definitely improved my reading habits, making it easier for me to read on the go or at the gym. But there is still something about opening a physical book, the feeling of the spine, the pages. I like writing in books, underlining and highlighting and taking notes. The cover art and font choice lends to the book; it's a piece of physical art to hold a beautiful book in your hands. So what about a Kindle? 

Using a Kindle isn't as much as physical experience as a physical book. But a Kindle lets most people read more books easily -- and when it comes to reading, more is always more, you know?