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Category Archives: Reader’s Life

{Read for Free} Part Two: Review Copies

read for free

How’s it going with reading library books on Kindle? I hope you’ve got a big queue all loaded up. For those of you who missed part one of the read for free series, you can check it out here.

Now, back to business.

How to get your mitts on advance reading copies- (aka free copies of books that you get before anyone else can buy the book).

When I worked for Book Soup back in the day, I discovered something crazy: publishers give out tons of review copies of books. 

I know it seems fairly obvious once I put it out there, but it was news to me back in 2007. There was a library cart in the break room filled with books. And they were all free for us to take. Granted, they weren’t all books we wanted to take, but I did get advance review copies of say, The Elegance of the Hedgehog, which I snatched up because I thought it sounded cool. Lest I sound too ahead of my time, I must admit that I didn’t read it until several years later when my aunt was practically tearing her hair out telling me to just read it already. But still, I could have been among the first.

Now, I know what you’re thinking. Caroline- we don’t all work for Book Soup. And I understand. While I adored working in publishing and book sales, it is not the best paying gig on earth. But, you don’t have to work in a bookshop to get your hands on review copies.

Are you on Goodreads? Authors regularly give out books to Goodreads members in exchange for an honest review. You have to put the disclaimer in your review, but that’s a small price to pay. If you like to review books, check out the current call for reviewers on Goodreads.

In addition, review copies aren’t always physical copies. Now that you know how to put books on your Kindle from the library, you can also add eBook versions of review copy books to your eReader as well. Check out Blogging for Books and Netgalley. I have found them both to be excellent. Pro tip: make sure you pick books you really want to read and review. Some sites will only let you check out new books once you have linked to a review for the book you have. It’s a bummer if you change your mind and then are stuck with a dud book you weren’t sure about.

This should give you some good options to start out with.

Bonus tip: people love galleys as gifts. I used to feel slightly silly wrapping up reading copies of books from Book Soup around Christmas, but everyone went nuts over them. “You mean I get to read Jhumpa Lahiri’s new book before anyone else does???” Major score. So once you finish reading and reviewing yours, pass them along. It’s good buzz for the book and you get to be the cool reading insider.

We aren’t often cool insiders as bookworms, so enjoy it!


{Read for Free} Part One: Library Books on Your Kindle

read for free library on kindle

If you read as much as I do, eventually you’ll be making that call between groceries and books. Personally, I always want to choose books, but what if there was a way to have both? I’ve created this series for you on new ways to read for free that you might not know about. Here we go!

Part One: how to read library books on Kindle.

A couple of years ago, I went to Spain. A friend I’ve known since we were in kindergarten was teaching English there, so I was dying to visit. As I was packing, I ran out to my local bookshop. Poor thing, I thought. I know she speaks Spanish fluently, but what if she wanted an English book to read? I bought four or five I thought we’d both enjoy and stowed them in my suitcase. I felt like I had a big secret, kind of like the guy in the mural above. And yes, that’s in France not Spain. But I digress…

Cut to my joyful arrival in Sevilla and the unveiling of the books. I pulled them all out and laid them across the bed, eager to hear squeals of joy. She cocked her head to the side.

“Thank you so much for bringing them all this way. But… you do know I can check books out from the library on my kindle whenever I want, right?”


I like to think of myself as very tech savvy. I use apps. I update my gadgets and I am not intimidated by a little code. But for some reason, the idea of figuring out how to read library books on the Kindle made me nervous.

If you are like me, you know it’s a good idea for so many reasons, but the tech has you a little flummoxed. No more!

Here’s how to read a library book on your Kindle, step-by-step:

(note: images were taken using an iPhone for ease of presentation on this page. The web pages will look a tiny bit different, but the steps are the same.

  1. You need a library card. If you have one, excellent. If not, head straight to your local library branch and sign up. Come back here once you have your card.
  2. Head to your library’s e-media area: the easiest way to find it for the first time is to go to and then search for your library by clicking “Find a library” and typing in your location.
  3. Click your library once you find it- if you’re in a larger network, like we are in LA, you can click any library in the system and then go to “visit library website.”
  4. Once you are on your library’s website page, type in the title you want to check out in the search library book on kindle
  5. If the book exists in the database, it will appear within your search results. If it’s an eBook, you’ll see a book icon. If it’s audio, you’ll see headphones.
  6. Click on the selection with the book icon. You will see one of two blue buttons appear: “Borrow” or “Place a Hold.”IMG_8279 read library books on kindle
  7. If you see “Borrow,” congratulations! The book is available. Click Borrow.
  8. A screen will pop up asking you to sign in. Enter the barcode number from your library card and the pin you received from the library and hit enter.IMG_8281
  9. You will then be taken to the bookshelf and the title you checked out will appear on the shelf. There will be a button marked “Download” with a  drop-down menu. Click the white arrow to see the file formats.  IMG_8283
  10. When the menu drops down, tick the box for KindleIMG_8284
  11. This will then take you to Amazon’s site, where you will see the title just as if you were purchasing it. However, instead of the purchase button, it will be replaced with “Get Library Book.”
  12. Below the “Get library book” button, make sure you have selected your Kindle under the “Deliver to” option just below.
  13. Click “Get library book.”

And that’s it, folks! The next time you sync your Kindle, the book will appear in the menu, just like other Kindle books.

Now, you might be asking, “what happens if it says place a hold instead of borrow?”

That’s a good question. Here are your steps for those books

  1. Follow the same steps up to #7 above.
  2. Instead of clicking “Borrow”, click “Place a hold.”
  3. You will also be instructed to enter your library card barcode and pin. Do that and hit enter
  4. You will then be asked to enter the email address where you’d like to receive an alert once the book is available. Enter it twice.IMG_8285
  5. Pro tip: there is a tick box below the email fields which says “Automatically borrow this title when it becomes available.” If you are good about checking email and don’t mind setting other books aside for library books, go ahead and leave it checked. However, if you (like me) often want to finish what you’re reading before starting something new, untick it. You will be alerted that it is available and you’ll get a few days’ grace period to check it out. Then this won’t cut down on your 21 day load period.IMG_8286

Pro tip #2- my library allows me to change the loan period for e-Books. I believe it was set to 14 days when I first started reading library books on Kindle, but I was able to change that preference to 21 days.

So that’s it, folks. You can now read to your heart’s content and you don’t even need to worry about picking up or dropping off books at the library. Bonus- the file simply disappears when it’s due. No late fees or stress about getting the book back on time.


{Reader’s Life} The Poetry of Texting

Just a little post today.

I’ve been working my way through Sarah Selecky’s Story Intensive course this fall, and this past two weeks we’ve been focusing on dialogue. I find myself thinking of how this works in stories I love, conversations I have, and as people call out to each other when I’m walking the dog.

I’ve been thinking about community more, and how we are building a community around story here. I realize one of the ways that I stay connected to my community day today is by texting little messages to friends and loved ones. The divine Hannah Marcotti issued a challenge to build a poem out of the communication threads we share with the world. So… here I am giving it a shot:

It’s nice and cool here

Can I talk you into sending that up here please

I have a strange blue bruise on my thigh though

Teehee, we’ll see!

You got the hook up, girl!

We are majorly fucking reminiscing from the lanai

that is perfection

it’s heartening to see stuff out there

be right there

I have something for you! I’ll bring it to the cottage

I absolutely will! I’m so excited!

walking out the door. was putting on my socks

Lemons will be ready too

Let’s make a date then!


Wanna hang out?

See you soon.


The Liebster Award Brings You Amazing New Blogs


The Liebster Award is an award by bloggers, for bloggers and I have been nominated! I am so touched to have been chosen by Nichola Veitch, a blogger who has become a friend though the web and whose writing I admire tremendously. A big thank you to her! Do take a peek at her blog, as I know you’ll love it as well.

As an award winner I answer questions asked by Nichola then nominate 10 bloggers I admire for an award. They then answer my questions and nominate 10 of their favourite bloggers and so the love baton keeps moving through the interwebs, encouraging bloggers to keep sharing the love.

Here are the rules:

  • Link back and recognise the blogger who nominated me (thanks Nichola!).
  • Answer 10 questions asked by the person who nominated you.
  • Nominate 10 inspirational bloggers for the award.
  • Create 10 questions for your nominees to answer.
  • Notify your nominees


Here are the answers to Nichola’s questions…

  1. What’s your morning routine? I like to get up early- ideally by 6:30 or 7am, but I’ve been slipping lately. I like to meditate right when I get up-  I have a little alcove next to my bed where I sit and journal. I sit for 15-30 minutes and then do some free-writing and fill out the day’s page in Danielle Laporte’s Desire Map planner, which I love using. After I journal, I usually read a page from an inspiring book and say some affirmations. Then I head downstairs and usually have breakfast with my fiancee. He cooks, which is great. Then, after breakfast I get to work. Lately, I’ve been working from home so it’s a short walk to the office, but in the past, I’ve headed out to the car at this point.
  2. What are you reading? I am usually reading at least two books at any given time. Right now I’m doing a page a day of affirmations from The Wealthy Spirit by Chellie Campbell in the morning. For fun, I’m reading The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton. It takes place in Amsterdam in the 1600s, so it’s a complete escape. Great writing and a little bit of a mysterious plot line- heaven.
  3. What’s your favourite pick-me-up song? I don’t know that I have one favorite. I love listening to classical when I feel stressed or overwhelmed. I find words are overwhelming when I’m already overloaded. I really like cello music- anything Yo-Yo  Ma and I love Bach suites. They are great for writing. I have also been making radio stations on spotify based on soundtracks I like for inspiration while I’m working on writing- Jane Eyre and Inception are two favorite stations lately.
  4. What’s your top tip for when you’re lacking inspiration Get out of the house. Or at least look at a different view. I need to change my perspective when I’m uninspired and I almost always get inspired when I see a new view- this is why travel is such a source of joy for me. I get so many new ideas. But if I can’t go on a trip, even looking through a book of photographs or going on Air Bnb and making a wishlist of places I’d like to visit can inspire me. I’ll try going to a new neighborhood or making a new recipe. Anything that changes my perspective is a good option. If possible- I get to the Huntington Gardens in Pasadena, near where I live in LA. It makes me feel like I’m inside of a Jane Austen novel. I’m a member, so it’s free to go and it is completely different than my environment at home, which is quite urban.
  5. What does self care mean to you? Self care to me is listening to myself and watching my energy level very closely. I have been rear-ended twice in car accidents in the past week and a half, so self care lately has been taking an afternoon nap. I find my body is really disoriented since these happened. So I’m trying things like very gentle yoga, lots of water, and as much sleep as possible. Self care is letting myself take baby steps when I need to. It can also look different, depending on the circumstances.
  6. Where is you favourite place on the planet and why? Big Sur. My fiancee and I are skipping the New Years parties and hoopla this year to escape there for a quiet retreat just after Christmas until the beginning of January. I love the air there, the rocky beaches, and how close the ocean is to the forest. It’s the perfect place for sweaters and reading by the fire. The beaches have veins of purple sand and the whole place feels like magic. I love it the most in the winter, since there is hardly anyone there. And introvert’s paradise.
  7. What are you loving right now? My new fountain pen by Lamy. It writes so beautifully and will let me use an ink refiller I love that I can use bottled ink and not have to throw anything away in order to write with this pen. It’s smooth and light and easy to hold. I do a lot of writing by hand and having the right pen makes a huge difference to my life. They aren’t crazy expensive either. I highly recommend them.
  8. When overwhelm strikes, what is your advice? Make a list. Whenever I feel like I won’t be able to get a lot of things done, I write them all down until I feel calmer. Once I see the list of the tasks written out, I almost always see how I can get them done. I usually take the list and then open up my google calendar and then plot out when I will cross everything off. I’m extremely motivated by finishing tasks. I keep a bullet journal, and it’s a great source of joy to me when my list gets completed each day. (on good days, some things have to be postponed sometimes)
  9. What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received? “What if it was ok for things to work out easily?” I have a meditation teacher I’ve talked to monthly for years and she often points out ways I’m making life harder for myself. I got a bit nervous lately when some things felt like they were coming together too smoothly; I was suspicious and worried about the catch. She pointed out all the hard work I had put in for years to get to the point where I am today and asked if it was ok for me to just enjoy things working out for a little while. I realized that sometimes it’s harder for me to succeed and that I have some work to do allowing my life to be easy sometimes.
  10. What are you working on at the moment? A gift for my newsletter subscribers. I hope to launch it very soon… more details to come! But I have taken the past couple of months with this idea to give back to those who are kind enough to allow me into their inboxes. I can’t wait to share it in the next week or so.


And now, my nominees:

  1. Claireylove
  2. Dal Kular
  3. Baum-Kuchen
  4. Time to Bloom
  5. Wild Soul Grace
  6. Crossing the Threshold
  7. Hair Romance
  8. Memoir Class
  9. Bari Tessler
  10. DW Healing Arts

I know you are going to find some amazing material in here. I know each of these blogs well and almost all of the bloggers personally…happy reading!

Here are my questions for my nominees:

  1. What are you reading now? (I just had to)
  2. Who is the author that has had the biggest impact on your life?
  3. Do you ever re-read books? What’s one that you loved just as much the second time?
  4. What’s your favorite afternoon snack?
  5. What is your favorite pen (or pencil)?
  6. If you could take any vacation in the next year, all expenses paid, where would you go and with whom?
  7. What has surprised or delighted you this year?
  8. If someone wanted to give you a gift that was exactly what you needed right now, what would it be?
  9. What’s the best movie/show/documentary you’ve seen lately?
  10. What are you looking forward to this fall?

{Reader’s Life} How to Kondo Your Books

how to Kondo your books

I have been on a bender.

Inspired by the now-infamous Marie Kondo, the Japanese organization and tidying expert, I have been plowing through every corner of my house.

Clothes and shoes were first: after a three-hour session, I eliminated five garbage bags full of stuff that no longer, as Kondo puts it, sparked joy. I was thrilled. I gave a few items to friends, who had consistently expressed interest in them, but the rest went into the donation bin.

I felt so free afterward.

I’m not new to organizing. I love Real Simple magazine and have always aspired to be as organized as the rooms are inside. I know they are all staged but still, I can dream.

However, Kondo does prescribe an order to her process. You must purge by category, not by room. Clothes first, then books. How to Kondo the books?

I was nervous.

Granted, I am not a hoarder. I purge on a somewhat regular basis. I love cleaning out and was definitely looking forward to this process, and the inevitable result. I think it was more the realization that I was really going to go for it this time that made me reschedule my book-cleaning adventure three times.

Today was the day. I must confess- I did not lug all of the books in my home into one room. If I had done so, I would have filled whichever room I chose completely. Instead, I went through each bookcase and book storage location in turn and picked up each book, setting those who did not spark joy aside. As with my clothes, I was amazed at how clear it was which ones were keepers and which ones, in the words of Heidi Klum, were out.

The books that people gave me that they thought I would love, but I just never quite got around to. The books I bought for hobbies I never planned on beginning. The books that were perfect for me- ten or fifteen years ago. They all get to move on.

My hot tips:

  1. Do NOT read the book as you take it off the shelf. If it’s a cookbook, you can flip through to see if the recipes appeal to you at all, but don’t start reading anything. Just hold it and ask.
  2. The second you start to construct a justification for keeping the book, ask yourself how you would feel if it was gone. Every time I used this trick I realized how free I felt imagining letting the book go. Magic.
  3. Have boxes or containers to put your books into ready to go when you begin. I did not do this. Now there are piles of books all over my house and I am going to have to sort this out pronto. Take my advice and save yourself the headache.

After this three hour session, I am both relieved and suddenly horrified- who is going to help me get all these books out of my house? Help!

Have you ever purged your books? Do you even keep books? Are you a digital or an analog reader? And, if you have also Kondo-ed your books, do let me know how it went and send along any tips about getting those books off to a new home…

More on that once I accomplish it. Wish me luck!

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