Top Five Friday: Bookish Websites

When I first started using the Internet, I was in elementary school. My family had our own PC which made us the coolest people ever in my young mind. I was as familiar with the tone of the dial-up connecting as I was the sound of my own name. I had several floppy discs and was blown away by the idea of a search engine. If you hadn’t noticed yet, the Internet has come a long way. That’s good news, especially for book people.

Today I’m sharing five of my favorite literary websites. I like each of these sites for different reasons and rely on them often. Plus, no floppy disks are necessary, so that’s nice.

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The Millions

I’ve been a fan of this site for a long time. Twice a year they do a considerable book preview, and these posts always result in me adding way too many books to my ever-growing TBR. My favorite thing about the Millions, though, is their essays. Sometimes they’re about specific books or writers, but some are more general. No matter the topic, I’ve found the pieces on this site to be well-written and thoughtful. (My favorite contributor is Nick Ripatrazone who mostly writes about poetry.)

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Literary Hub

Like the Millions, Lit Hub offers excellent essays, interviews, and criticism, but I think Lit Hub offers more diversity, both in the genres they cover and the inclusion of writers of color. Besides the consistent quality of the writing, another thing I love about this site is an offshoot they launched called Book Marks. It’s a bit like Rotten Tomatoes in that it shares the newest books, rounds up their reviews, and lists how many were positive and negative.

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Book Riot

The thing I like best about this site is that they cover a wide array of books and writers. If you can think of an incredibly specific genre or title, I’m willing to bet Book Riot has talked about it. The quality of the writing on this site is more hit and miss than the Millions and Lit Hub, but there’s a lot of good stuff to be found if you’re willing to wade through the variety of their posts to find something that interests you. They post a lot of content every day, so there’s certainly a good chance there will be something that you want to read.

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NoveList

I talked about NoveList in my post about how I use my public library, but I love it so much that I’m mentioning it again. This site is different than the others because it’s a subscription service. To see if you have access, check with your local public or academic library. If you do have access, I don’t know of a better source for finding book recommendations than NoveList. You can find book recs all over the Internet, of course, but what’s great about NoveList is how precisely you can search for books. You can find titles by searching for things like a strong sense of place, a specific time period, writing style, and more. NoveList is also an excellent resource for those of us who work in libraries. When I needed to brush up on my readers’ advisory skills, I turned to NoveList for their excellent articles about various book genres and how to get the right books to the right patrons. I use this site all the time and know my job would be much harder if it didn’t exist.

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Goodreads

Goodreads combines two of my favorite things: books and lists. I’ve been using the site to track my reading since 2010. (You can find me here.) I enjoy setting reading goals each year, and their challenge tracker is fantastic. There’s something incredibly satisfying about finishing a book and adding it to my Goodreads list. I also love keeping track of what my friends are reading. I use the site to find quotes, and I enjoy entering their giveaways. I won a copy of The Girls by Emma Cline once, so I’m convinced I’m going to win again any day now.


Are you a fan of any of these sites? What are your must-visit bookish sites?


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Weekly Favorites: Volume 5

Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

WORDS

BLOG

  • I came across a book blog that I’ve fallen in love with. Check out the Literary Edit if you like books and beautiful web design.

MUSIC

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TELEVISION

  • Due to my fondness for Maya Rudolph and Fred Armisen, I started watching the Amazon series Forever. I’m four episodes in and am enjoying it so far. I like how it keeps subverting my expectations.

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INTERIOR DESIGN


What are your favorite things right now?

Top Five Friday: Where I Buy Books

I have six bookcases, three of which are pretty big. All six are overflowing at the moment (a privilege for which I’m thankful). Despite my crammed and sagging bookshelves, I continue to buy books. Some books are just so pretty, and some books are super cheap, and other books call to me, and I must answer their call or the books will be sad forever. I trust you, dear reader, understand completely. Today I’m sharing my favorite places to buy books in case you too are a hopeless collector.

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BOOK OUTLET

I didn’t know about Book Outlet until about three years ago. When I found out about it, I felt as if I had just entered a new, higher plane of existence. THEY’RE SO CHEAP, YOU GUYS. I’ve found new releases in hardcover for under $5, a few special editions, and some popular paperbacks for less than $2. I appreciate Book Outlet because your money goes so far on their site, but do know they don’t have the selection you’ll find through an ordinary bookseller. Their inventory changes all the time, so this site is best for browsing instead of hunting for something specific.

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LIBRARY BOOK SALES

The greatest library book sale finds I’ve ever stumbled across has to be the Robert Caro LBJ biography set I discovered during a $3 a bag sale. Not only did I get the first three volumes of that set in pristine condition, but I also filled up the rest of my bag for $3 total. Three dollars! As in less than a latte for a bag full of books! Library book sales are your friends. They can be hit and miss, sure, but you can find some absolute gems if your timing is right. One time I cut off the circulation in my arm for a while because I was carrying so many heavy bags of books from the library to my car, but my temporary numbness was totally worth it.

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MY LOCAL INDIE

I love indie bookstores, and I’m lucky to live in a city with a great one. It’s big, has a wonderfully curated selection of new and used books, and is always full of so much beautiful light thanks to all its pretty windows. In addition to books, my indie has a good assortment of magazines, gift items, and beautiful stationery. The staff is friendly, and the displays are always impressive. I know I can find what I’m looking for and am happy to support a local business that brings so much literary goodness to the community.

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THRIFT STORES

When I enter a thrift store, I’m drawn to the book section first thing. I approach feeling like a hunter searching for its prey. There’s excitement in each step as I walk up to the first shelf. Sometimes I score a brand new hardcover for a dollar, and other times I wonder who donated the decade-old computer books and what employee thought someone would actually buy them. But the duds are worth looking through to find the gems. And if outdated technology books are your thing, a thrift store will be your bookish oasis.

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BARNES AND NOBLE

I feel like shopping at Barnes & Noble means that I prefer Fox Books to The Shop Around the Corner, but there’s room in my heart for both the big box store and the little indie. I like B&N because of the atmosphere. There’s a ton of seating, and it smells like a mixture of new books and coffee (a.k.a. the best smell ever). B&N also offers great deals to its members. My $25 annual membership pays for itself thanks to all the 20% off coupons I get throughout the year. A trip to this bookstore always relaxes me, whether I buy anything or not. (Let’s be honest here: I usually buy something.)


As a bonus item, check out Bookfinder when you’re shopping for books online. It’s not a site where I buy books, but a place that tells me where to buy them. When I want a used copy of an older title, I always use Bookfinder because it does all the searching for me by telling me what sites have the title I want and who’s offering the best price.

What are your favorite places to pick up books?