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If you’ve been reading here for any amount of time, then you’ll know that reading is one of my favorite things to do in the world. I remember my mom carrying me to the library as a little girl for the summer reading program. You know, the one with the ice cream cone chart? I’m pretty sure I still have that chart in my memory box somewhere. I’m a life long reader, but I have been through seasons where I didn’t read as much, or I was only reading for school, or I was only reading terrible (young adult steamy romance) novels. My reading life has certainly evolved and the past year and half has probably been one of the richest seasons of reading that I can remember. My mom and I talk about books and literature a lot, even though our tastes are vastly different, and she always tells me how impressed she is with my reading life. She thinks it’s so funny that I have reading goals. Who has reading goals? she says.
In light of the numerous questions I get about what to read, when to read, and where to find new books, I thought it might be fun to write a post all about my reading life, that was less centered on reviews and more focused on getting books into your hands! There was a time when almost all of my books came from the local library, the church library where I grew up, or from friends and family. Let’s talk about three bookish websites and a podcast that are saving my reading life.
Book of the Month Club
I talk about BOTM all the time, so you should be somewhat familiar with it by now. Let’s think of it like Netflix for books. For less than the cost of a single paperback book, you can have a new or notable hardback edition delivered to your door each month. By signing up using my referral code, you can get your first month for $1 and you can cancel any time. Each month, five books are reviewed by their staff and guest reviewers. When you login to your account the first week of each month, you’ll see cover art for all five selections and notice that one is already in your cart. You can stick with the book they’ve recommended, or choose any of the other monthly selections.
Clicking on the cover art for each of the five options, will show you both the judge’s review and the jacket copy for that selection. You can easily page through the five books by clicking the forward and backward arrows and if you are intrigued by more than one of their offerings, you can add additional titles for $9.99.
When was the last time you paid less than $10 for a hard-cover best seller?!
I’ve been using Book of the Month Club for almost an entire year and I can’t think of a single book I wasn’t enamored with. This is also the first time in forever that I don’t have a stack of extra book credits in my account. My fantastic readers are keeping me well read these days!
I get a ton of questions about audiobooks and how I like them and what kids of audiobooks I prefer. I’ll admit that I was super skeptical about listening to books. I mean, is that even reading? When it comes down to it, I spend at least two hours a day in my car and if I’m just listening to the radio or daydreaming, I feel even more guilty about the amount of my day I’m wasting. I do listen to podcasts some, but I try to save those for when I finish up an audiobook. I’ll binge listen to my accumulated podcast episodes in between my audiobook selections.
Audible is an Amazon company, so you can use the same login and payment information that you use on Amazon’s main site. I will say, that it is completely frustrating that you can’t use any Amazon gift cards or affiliate income to purchase books. It seems like if everything else is connected then you should be able to do that, but you can’t. This is literally my only complaint about using Audible.
There are several membership options, but I currently get two audible credits each month. Yes, it’s $23 I could probably spend somewhere else, but books are high on my priority list and I would spend far more than that at the bookstore and still not solve my riding in cars problem.
Just like on Amazon’s website, Audible makes recommendations for you based on previous purchases. There is an occasional failure, but for the most part it is spot on. Of the books depicted above, all but two are either on my Goodreads to read list or something I’ve already read.
And speaking of wish lists, you can set one up on the Audible website that is completely separate from those in your Amazon account. I usually use this function to line up books for the next month. I’ll have two more credits available at the end of this week and these are the two that I’m currently contemplating.
In addition to my regular credits, they also offer really good sales. Last month, there was a huge selection of books on sale for under $5. I try not to buy books just because they are on sale, but I had been eyeing Wonder for several weeks and managed to snag it and the companion novel for less than $10 total. I’ve tried listening to audiobooks with the girls, but I think it might be an acquired taste. They struggled to keep up without my constant interruption and I do remember having to backup the book many times when I first started listening. I recommend starting with something super easy to listen to and saving more complicated books for later in your membership — particularly those with multiple narrators or that move around in time.
Apparently, I’ve been a member of Goodreads since 2012, but I’ve only really been utilizing it since the beginning of the year. Rachel shared a post about how she uses it several weeks ago and it made me realize just how under-utilized this tool was in my reading life. I’ve since downloaded the app and I’m making myself take a look every few days to update my reading progress and stalk what everyone else is reading.
On the homepage of any user, you can access their bookshelves, what they are currently reading, their to read list, and their friends. Think of Goodreads as Facebook meets your local library. It’s a great place to find like-minded readers or to stalk the reading list of your virtual friends.
One of the things I needed most, was an update to how I was organizing things. Up until now, I had only been using the default shelves that Goodreads sets up when you create an account: read, reading, and to read. I’ve since added other categories that help me organize things, along with what I’m reading each year. There is no possible way to add every book I’ve ever read, so I classified everything as 2015 and earlier, except for those titles I blogged about in 2016 and 2017. When we finally unpack our belongings and my books make it back on the shelf, I’ll add titles as I come across them. It won’t ever be fully updated, but I’d like to get as close as possible.
I also love being able to sort my books by the date they were finished. This helps me keep track of how much I read each month, how I rated each title, and which bookshelves it can be found on. I’m sure I’m still missing out on a ton of other ways to use the Goodreads app, but these few things are already super helpful!
The Modern Mrs. Darcy + What Should I Read Next
I’m a relatively new reader of Anne Bogel’s, but I’ve seen her summer reading challenges on Pinterest for years. I don’t know why I’ve never paid closer attention, because her recommendations are always so good. She’s just recently released her Summer Reading Guide for 2017 and it’s full of things I haven’t read, but want to. This year’s format is super easy to use — you can check a box next to the selections you want to read and then print it or email it to yourself for later. I’ve already added several of these to my Amazon wish list!
Not only is her blog full of fantastic reading information, but she has an endearing podcast with a new episode available for download each week. She interviews readers and asks them to share favorite books, least favorite books, and what they are currently reading. She also asks them to share insight into how they wish their reading life was different. Armed with that information, Anne makes three recommendations for them to read next. I can’t begin to tell you how many book titles I’ve jotted down in the car while listening. Even when I can’t identify with a single thing about the person she’s interviewing, I always learn something fascinating about books and reading!
Now, tell me what I’m missing. Are there any other apps or websites that I need in my life? What about your favorite place to buy books? I’ve filled our camper to the brim with unread titles and I can’t wait to share all of my summer favorites with you soon!