So Many Books, So Little Time
As technology advances, avid readers have an ever-widening array of ways to enjoy books. You can choose traditional paper books as well as ebooks, audiobooks, and books available to read online. There are also a growing number of resources to help guide you to your next great read.
The following stories highlight many of these websites, whose creators and contributors love books as much as you do. We've included something for everyone here, whether you want to know about new releases, buy or trade books, track your books and see what your friends are reading, or learn about the authors behind your favorite works. You'll also find tons of extras, like inspiration for creating your best book club, where to find books when you're on a budget, and why audiobooks are all the rage. We think you'll especially love the websites of long-standing independent booksellers The Strand and Powell's Books, as well as the service BookCrossing, which enables you to track books that you send out into the world. You won't want to miss Cover Spy, a Tumblr that tracks what people are reading in New York's public spaces. Plus, check out the six tips for taking a great shelfie!
It's time to make a cup of tea, call your cat (borrow one if you need to), and settle in for the next chapter of your reading adventure.
QUICK TIP: Yes, independent bookstores still exist. Support them by visiting Indie Store Finder (indiebound.org/indie-bookstore-finder) and shopping at the ones nearest you.
We Give These Review Sites Five Stars
While finishing a book is satisfying, it leaves you with the question of what to read next. There are many strategies for finding great books including asking friends or browsing a bookstore. Another is checking out reviews online. These sites offer insights to help you make your next reading decision.
Brought to you by The New Yorker, this site offers "criticism, contentions, and conversation inspired by books and the writing life." Articles include reflections on the lives of late writers, reviews of new books, and commentary on finalists for writing contents. If you love books and the people who write them, this is the site for you.
Started by Virginia Kirkus in the 1930s, Kirkus Reviews has a long-standing reputation for previewing books prior to publication. Here you'll find reviews, blogs, a podcast, contests, and an entire section devoted to books that feature diverse characters. Sign up for the newsletter to get all the latest in your inbox.
It may come as no surprise that Amazon has a book review site. Check out the Best Books section for instant recommendations or go to your favorite genre area for more specific suggestions. You can also go behind the pages with in-depth author interviews and find out what celebrities are reading in Celebrity Picks.
This straightforward review site offers opinions on several genres including fiction, nonfiction, children's, religion, and comics. Check out the Review of the Week or the Best Books section for works you may not have otherwise considered. Subscribe to the site for additional access.
How to Build a Better Book Club
One of the best things about reading books is talking about them with others. Book clubs can be a great place to do so, but it takes a bit of effort to create a good one and keep it going. Visit these sites for ideas and inspiration:
This site is a complete book club resource with reading guides for specific books, discussion questions for when no guide is available, and tips for starting and running a successful book club.
Another great resource for reading guides, this site also enables visitors to discuss books online. Read interviews with members of real-life book clubs and get recommendations for your club's next book.
Here you'll find a start-to-finish book club organizer. Create your club on the site, then use it to develop meeting invites, track books and members, and connect with other clubs.
QUICK TIP: Check out NPR's Book Concierge (apps.npr.org/best-books-2017) for a quick list of last year's favorites among the NPR staff.
Online Bookstores Let You Shop in Your Pajamas
We all love to browse around local bookstores. But when you'd rather stay home and shop, these sites have plenty to offer:
The Strand bookstore in New York houses 2.5 million books, with more at a separate location. The inventory includes many used books, a rare book department with collectibles, and first and signed editions. The website allows you to shop all these options and take advantage of online extras.
Select Books from the drop-down list to the left of the Amazon search bar, leave the search bar blank, and click the search button to enter the world of Books at Amazon. In addition to new and used books for purchase, the site offers an extensive list and recommendation section. Amazon Prime members, don't forget to sign up for Prime Reading and Amazon First Reads to read books for free!
Each time you buy a book at BetterWorldBooks, the company donates a book to someone in need. If that's not reason enough to shop there, take a look at the extensive selection of new, used, and bargain books. If you want to get good books at great prices and help others at the same time, this is the place to do it.
Powell's Books promotes itself as "the world's largest independent bookstore." The flagship store — located in Portland, Oregon — carries new, used, rare, and out-of-print books. The website allows you to browse for books in dozens of categories, get staff recommendations, or even sell your old books.
QUICK TIP: Sign up with BookBub (bookbub.com) to get notifications of fantastic book deals.
Libraries Aren't the Only Free Source for Books
Love to read but don't want to spend money on books? No worries, you can read some of the best books ever written for free. Check out these sites to find books in the public domain (those with no intellectual property rights attached).
As one of the most well-known free book sources, this site allows you to search for a specific book or browse the "bookshelves." Download books to your reader or read online.
Use this site to search or browse, then download books in the public domain. The interface is easy to use, and you can start reading immediately after you download.
The Online Books Page
This no-frills index includes hundreds of books that are available online for free. Just enter title and author information into the search bar to find what you're looking for.
What Do You Do With Books You No Longer Want?
When you're finished reading books and don't want to keep them, you have a number of options. You can give them to friends or family members, sell them, or donate them to your favorite charity. You can also try using these book swapping sites, which offer fun ways to trade books and build community.
Join this service to be matched with people who have the books you want or want the books you have. Paperbacks, hardcovers, audio books, and textbooks are all welcome. You pay for shipping books out, but those you receive are postage-paid packages. Keep the books you get or put them on the site to swap again.
Similar to PaperBack Swap, this site allows you to request books from others and send your books to people who want those you have. You can find anything from thrillers to romance to young adult (YA) fiction. To get even more out of the service, participate in the forums.
This innovative service creates special labels to put on books you're ready to part with. After you've labeled a book, leave it in a public place. The finder can enter information from the label, enabling you to "follow" your book anywhere it goes.
Freecycle isn't strictly a book swapping site, but here you can post items that you have to give away or want. Once you create your post, communicate with others to arrange a pickup or drop-off. It's a great choice if you agree with the service's mission statement of "building a worldwide sharing movement."
QUICK TIP: In the mood for a free physical book but want to skip the regular library? Visit littlefreelibrary.org/ourmap to find the nearest Little Free Library.
Let's Hear It for Audiobooks
According to the Pew Research Center, nearly one in five Americans listen to audiobooks. That number represents a four percent increase since 2016.1 Many other sources have also noted this quickly growing market.
Why are audiobooks so popular? Some of it has to do with the devices that makes audiobooks so easily accessible, including smart speakers and smartphones. Audiobooks also enable multi-tasking, since you can listen to books as you do chores, exercise, or commute to work.
In addition to the book content, lovers of this format like certain narrators (some of whom are famous actors) and get audiobooks for that reason alone. Some authors, like humorist David Sedaris, perfectly narrate their own works.
Want to try audiobooks? The most popular sources for them are:
- Audible (audible.com) Try it free for 30 days.
- iTunes (itunes.apple.com) This is for iOS users.
- Google Play Store (play.google.com/store) This is for Android users.
We encourage you to give your eyes a rest and your ears a treat with audiobooks.
Bookmark These Handy Sites
If you read a lot of books, you'll want to plan, organize, and expand your collection as well have access to a variety of book-related resources. These sites are filled with pages to help.
Goodreads is an online bookshelf, recommendation resource, and reader community all rolled into one. List and review books you've read. Set a reading goal for the year. Connect with friends to see their book updates. Or join a group to connect with readers who share your interests. When you explore this site, you'll find even more great features.
Join over two million book lovers on this online media tracker. List your books, music, and movies. Then view, search, or print a copy of your personal catalog. Visit often to discover local events, book recommendations, and more. Don't forget to participate in the forums for book-related discussions.
Like Goodreads and LibraryThing, Libib allows you to catalog media including books, movies, music, and video games. Create separate libraries (up to 100) for each type and catalog up to 5,000 items. Review items and track your progress through each book. Connect and share with others on the site.
This site is designed to help you find books (and other items) to borrow. Use it to search the collections of libraries near you and all over the world. Certain items, like audiobooks, may be available for immediate download. Other items may require a library card for the library that has them.
Snap a Shelfie in Front of Your Books
Looking for a way to share your love for books with the world? How about snapping a shelfie? This photo of your bookshelf (ideally with you in the shot) lets others see what you like to read. As with selfies, you might want to do a little preparation to get the best shots. Here are some suggestions:
- Organize your books in a way that makes sense to you. Options include alphabetical or by color, publication date, or topic.
- Include some items other than books (such as a vase with flowers or an old typewriter).
- Try a few different lighting scenarios to see which one works best.
- Wear your favorite reading sweatshirt/sweater/shawl.
- List one or two of your favorite selections in the caption.
- Post on the social media site where your fellow bookworms hang out, using the hashtag #shelfie.
You are what you read, so celebrate it!
Learn the Stories Behind the Stories
Want to not just read books, but read about books? You're not alone. These popular sites give you a glimpse into the lives of authors and help you understand how your favorite books fit into the wider literary culture.
This site is a repository for all things literary. It includes interviews with authors, personal essays, and news. Recent articles include "The Weirdos of Russian Literature" and "The Last Days of George Orwell." Fiction fans, check out the Daily Fiction section for recommendations on short stories, novels, and poetry.
New York Times
Reflecting the legendary high quality of The New York Times, its Books and Literature section offers articles about authors' lives and accomplishments. The site covers a wide variety of genres including fiction, nonfiction, children's books, thrillers, and memoir. Watch for book suggestions that correspond with current news stories.
In addition to a Find Books section that provides lists and recommendations, this site offers essays about specific works and literature in general, such as an exploration of how to be a writer while working in another career. Visit the Person to Person section for author interviews.
Visit The Rumpus for a little bit of everything. Read fascinating articles on a variety of literary topics. Then check out the subscription services, like Letters in the Mail, which sends you a letter from a different celebrity each month (there's even a version for kids). Don't forget to sign up for the "overly personal email newsletter."
Quirky Book Sites That Defy Description
Just like books themselves, some book sites are truly unique. Here are a few whose covers you might want to crack:
Articles include "How to Decorate Your House Like Victor Frankenstein" and "What to Read When You're Going Through a Friend Breakup." Need we say more?
Book Cover Archive
If you love to judge a book by its cover, this site is for you. Check out interesting book covers and click the thumbnails to find information about the illustrators, designers, and photographers who created them.
This Tumblr is maintained by "a team of book spies" who hang out in New York subways, streets, and parks to see what people are reading.
Whether you're into mystery, romance, sci-fi, or even comics, this site has something for you. Check out the nearly endless collection of articles, book recommendations, and book-related podcasts.
QUICK TIP: Visiting Washington, D.C.? Don't forget to stop by the Library of Congress. Go to loc.gov/visit/tours to set up a tour.