How to Get Through Your Reading List Without Breaking the Bank

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One of my favorite websites,, recently sent out one of their themed reading lists, just in time to benefit those of us deciding on our summer reading lists. also featured a recent article on getting through your seasonal reading list, which I -- as someone with a shelf or two of books waiting to be read -- found quite helpful. Unfortunately, reading has become something of a challenge for me lately, so building a list is both frustrating and futile.

While finding the time to read is one of the biggest obstacles I face when it comes to demolishing my directory of unread literature, the idea of spending $15 on a book is one I just don't take well. I'm on a budget, for heaven's sake!

So, I've discovered some ways to make my imagination and my wallet happy at the same time:

Discount bookstores. There are secondhand bookstores everywhere. Granted, they're not as plentiful as they used to be, but they're a great resource for anyone looking for new books. Bring in your own books, those that are in good condition but you likely won't use again, to trade for store credits or cash which will then go towards updating your personal library.

Online discount services. (a division of eBay), Amazon used books, and other similar sites are perfect ways to find low-price books. The minimum listing price on these services is about .75, so even adding $3.99 shipping, you can potentially save a lot. These are also great places to rid yourself of old textbooks and other dusty tomes.

Swap services. and similar sites allow users to enter their personal libraries into a database to be perused by all other members. The only obligation you have as a user is to print the shipping labels from the site and send out your book when it's requested by another member.

Use friends. If you happen to have word-nerd friends, ask what they're reading, how they like it, or for general recommendations. More than likely, they'll own the favorites they suggest and as long as you're responsible, will be glad to loan them out. This is a great way to find books without choosing solely based on a review that was probably written more for publicity than accuracy, and it will also keep you from shelling out cash.

Go to the library! Shh, this one's an oldie but a goodie. Go root around in your local branch's card catalog - I guarantee you'll find something worth checking out (literally...).

Take field trips. People like me are probably why brick-and-mortar bookstores are on the verge of bankruptcy. However, when a book I want is only out in hardback/is too pricy, I go sit in Barnes and Noble, enjoy a Tazo iced tea, and read the bookstore's copy. This can take days, but it's a fun diversion and, especially when other things are slow, gives me something to look forward to.

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Emmie Scott is an English major-turned-marketing exec, with a passion for writing, humor, sharing knowledge, and "pink drinks." After hours, she started Are Toe Rings Professional Attire?, a blog for college grads and twenty-somethings looking to find their way through that daunting labyrinth called…

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