Saturday, 15 October 2011

Top Tips for Reading Lists

Being an English student, a lot of my money tends to go on books. I don't mind paying £6.99 for a book that I know I'll enjoy reading again and again, but for a novel that I'll only study for a week and probably not look at again - not so much. If you see Beowulf on someone's bookshelf gathering dust, chances are they studied English at uni.

Anyway, instead of paying Waterstone prices for many of the books on my course, I have many other places I like to check out first.

First of all charity shops. They're always full of books that need a second home. Most of the time they're alphabetized, so go in with your reading list, but be prepared to search through a few copies of The Da Vinci Code and Katie Price's autobiography before you find what you're looking for. Charity shops are especially good for Classics and Popular Fiction. I found this copy of My Sister's Keeper for just £1.99. I do hate books that have pictures of the film on the front however, but beggars can't be choosers...

(Yeah Jodi Picoult is on my reading list...I'll keep you updated on that one)

I also found this copy of Oryx and Crake in Oxfam. God bless you Margaret Atwood for having a surname beginning with A, my knees were about to give from all the bending down near the P's.

Even though I do disagree with supermarkets and chain book stores being able to offer crazy discount prices that independent book stores can't compete with, I put such morals aside when searching for a bargain. Which leads me on to my next tip - HMV and Fopp. If you don't have a Fopp in your city then you're missing out. Think of it as HMV's younger sibling who gets all the hand-me-down goods but at excellent prices. They're both good for prize-winning books and classics for a £1 (although the printing is never that great). My copy of Their Eyes Were Watching God was only £3. Yay.

And then there's I go to Abe Books if I haven't managed to find any of my books elsewhere. Chances are someone somewhere will have it listed on here. It's especially good for out of print or obscure books as well. This is where I found a copy of The Unit by Ninni Holmqvist for £5.78 inc. p&p. Amazon Marketplace is also good for this type of thing, but I prefer Abe Books for some reason.

You could also check out swap-shop style websites, but I find them too much of a hassle, as you have to list all of your books and then find someone who's willing to swap books with you.

Books make good presents too, so giving your reading list to your family or a friend is a good idea if it's your birthday before the start of a new term. Make sure they get you other things as well though...

So after scouring the internet and various shops I spent a grand total of £23.70 on 8 books, which, if I'd have bought them all new, would have come to a ridiculous £63.92.

A saving of £40.22!

I haven't even bought all of my books yet, and this is just two modules worth. Of course I could just borrow the books from the library, but I like to write in them (in pencil of course), and a lot of the time the library will only have two copies of a set text, which just doesn't cover over 50 students. Anyway, I like old books, and you never know, you might just come across something as lovely as this...

I like to imagine what kind of relationship these two people had, and why Matty decided to donate this gift to a charity shop. I love finding personal notes in old books, and old receipts. Anyone else?

I hope this is useful to a few people. But everyone loves a good charity shop rummage, yes?


  1. I think I might have to dig around in charity shops more often for books. I'm a sucker for 3 for 2 at Waterstones. I love the little personal note - wonder what it means. Does seem a little sad that it ended up in a charity shop.

  2. i love to find dedications and notes like this in books. have you ever written a dedication in a book yuou have bought for someone? i have always wondered whether too, but have only done so once.

  3. Lovely post and wowww for the books. I love book-shoppings more than anything. The same thing happened to me with 'My Sister's Keeper' :) Just followed you xxx

  4. I loved this post, I have a bit of a book buying addiction so I have so many piled up to read because of my payday Amazon splurges. I am so jealous that you have a Fopp near you, the one in Southampton closed down but I used to buy loads of books there, they had such a good selection. I also love buying books in charity shops or at car boot sales but I resent paying more than a couple of quid for them, in my opinion second hand books should be about 50p! I feel sorry for Rachrl with the nice handwriting, guess that tradition didn't last that long!xxx

  5. I study English too and the books really can be extortionate!
    I love having a search through charity shops and jumble sales to find the hidden gems.
    We are studied Light In August and have an upcoming exam on it too! Fingers crossed all will go well...
    JS xx


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