Tag Archives: library

An experiment in free reading

I read a lot of YA fiction and review a lot, too, on the Paisley Piranha blog. Recently, I signed up as a blog tour host/reviewer with YA Bound Book Tours. As a result, I’ve been reading a lot of review books (and discovering lots of new, fabulous authors). I joined YA Bound deliberately to widen my exposure to different books/authors and also to widen my reading community since reading tends to be rather a solitary activity. A result I didn’t expect is that my bank balance has been unexpectedly buoyant the past couple of months. I didn’t realise how much I spent on books until I wasn’t spending it.

A lifetime of free books?

I often hear as a cry of joy for readers the argument that you could fill your Kindle/Kobo/Nook entirely with free books, read for the rest of your life and never spend another penny on books.

I’ve decided to test this supposition.

The rest of my life is way too large a commitment, but for the rest of the year I’m going to see if it’s possible to have a satisfactory reading experience only reading free books. For clarity, my reading matter can be:

1. Books I’ve got for free to review.

2. Books I’ve chosen which are either permafree or on a time-limited free deal.

3. Books borrowed from the library.

4. Books lent to me by friends.

5. Books given to me (since my birthday isn’t until the end of November I don’t forsee this resulting in many books during the course of this experiment :-().

But aren’t books worth paying for?

However, as both a writer and a reader the concept of “free books” makes me deeply uneasy. If a book is worth reading, it’s worth paying for, in my opinion. To ease my conscience, I’m going to allow some exceptions:

1. If I’ve read a book for free and really enjoyed it, I can buy another book by that author in order to support them and, hopefully, help them keep on writing.

2. When a writer friend releases a book I can buy a copy to support them and help their book launch (and because a lot of my writer friends are on my must-buy list and I can’t bear to wait six months for their book).

3. I can buy books for other people. Since that’s just as much as pleasure as buying for myself, that should help with any withdrawal symptoms.

And that’s about it. I’ll blog at least fortnightly to let you know how I’m getting on and whether I can stick to my rules and still enjoy reading.

If you’ve tried reading only free books for any length of time – or did so by chance – do let me know how you got on in the comments.

3 reasons I love my library

Libraries are a hot topic in the UK at the moment, with the government and councils seeming to view them as pointless moneypits which can easily be dispensed with without any derogation to life or culture. I’m not going to add anything dramatic to the debate, but I wanted to articulate why libraries full of books are important to me.

For books I want to read

I discovered Leigh Bardugo recently. I bought Six of Crows after reading the first few pages in Waterstones, and it is utterly superb (check out my review if you want to know why I think so). I then bought Shadow and Bone, the first of the grisha trilogy (same author, same world, different story and characters) and consumed it with equal haste and delight.

Leigh Bardugo's Grisha trilogy
Just ask for books and your library will get them for you. Magic!

Finances then drew me to a bit of a stop, but I requested Seige and Storm and Ruin and Rising from the library and I’m halfway through Seige and Storm already.

Without a library, I’d be broke or bereft.

For books I might want to read

When I bought Six of Crows I also scanned the blurb and first few pages of Snow Like Ashes on the promotions table in Waterstones. It had caused quite a buzz on my twitter stream, and I liked the sound of it. But I wasn’t quite convinced in the bookshop and Six of Crows won the day.

So when I saw Snow Like Ashes in the library, I snapped it up … only to set it down again after reading a couple of chapters. Not for me, I’m afraid (too much backstory for my taste).

I’ve just picked up The Sin Eater’s Daughter for very similar reasons. I like the sound of it (and I’ll review it as it’s shortlisted for the YA Book Prize), but I’m not convinced enough to buy it and keep it forever.

Read without risk - I might like this, I might not...
Read without risk – I might like this, I might not…

For books I have no idea I want to read (but I do!)

I have found so many treasures in my local library. Browsing in the “just returned” section has brought books to my attention that I would never have read otherwise. Charlaine Harris’s “Grave” series was one of those finds. It’s completely out of my genre because I don’t read crime (ordinarily) – but I liked the cover, picked it up, enjoyed the first few pages, took it home and fell in love.

I’ve checked it out of the library about half a dozen times, so with Christmas book tokens this year I finally bought my own copy, and it’s now on my (overflowing) “keeper” shelves.

A cool premise, and never mind the crime, it's the relationships that keep me reading.
A cool premise, and never mind the crime, it’s the relationships that keep me reading.

There are so many other happy discoveries made through my library it would be worth my taxes just for that.

So that’s why I love my local library – do you love yours? Why or why not? Let me know in the comments.

Spoilt for Choice

An array of great books waiting to be read
How I feel facing my recently acquired TBR pile.

I was in enough trouble yesterday when I drafted this post. Then I went to the library. I didn’t need any more books, I wasn’t going to get any more books … but I thought I might as well have a little look, just in case. Yeah, well, all readers know how that one ends.

So I’ve now got 5 books from the library, 3 just arrived from Amazon, 2 previews on my Kindle that I want to download and read, and 3 loaned from friends that I “must read”.

This is good, because I’d hate to run out of books, but such a surfeit of wonders also makes me uneasy because I’ve found in the past that when I’ve got lots of books waiting, the first couple are read while the rest slide into my TBR pile, never to surface again.

It’s as though, once they lose the gloss of ‘new’ (to me) I don’t love them so much and would rather move onto the next new thing rather than reading something I’ve had kicking around for weeks.

I hate to think I’m so fickle, and maybe I’m a victim of The Paradox of Choice (click through if you’re interested in the psychology of it). In short, the idea is that more choice makes it harder to make a decision, rather than easier.

Problem is, I’d hate to have less choice in books – because the nightmare that wakes me screaming is that I’ve run out of things to read.

Since cloning isn’t yet available, I guess there is a simple alternative…

Young person facedown on an open book with other books around them