My love for reading books came from my mom.

When I was 10 years old, I had no friends and was a huge introvert. I spent a lot of time alone at home. My mom heard of a new private library that opened nearby and took me there as soon as possible. I was enamoured by the smell of books from the first time I walked in. I've never looked back on books since.

Years later, she told me that she wanted me to have something I loved and could do alone. She was a huge bookworm when she was in her teens and she thought that books could help me as well. She also wanted me to have the same magical relationship with books that she had.

Her reading habit slowed down to a stop when she became an adult but my reading has been consistent. I may not read as much as I read in school but I still read way more than the average person. In 2022, I read 171 books.

All of these books have to come from somewhere. I thought it would be interesting to delve into where I get my books and how I choose what to get.

a quick summary of my reading habits

The way a reader gets their books is heavily impacted by their reading habits. A big reason why I am able to read so many books while living in the Global South is that my reading habits allow it. If I was a huge paperback person, I would NOT be reading 100 books a year. It is too expensive to sustain that reading habit.

I read in all 3 book formats available—paperbacks/hardbacks, ebooks, and audiobooks.

pie chart showing the breakdown of books and reading formats. 
143 ebooks, 20 physical books, and 8 audiobooks.
books read in different formats in 2022

Looking at my 2022 reading, you can see that most of the books I read are in ebook format. The second highest is physical books but it is much lesser than ebooks. The last is audiobooks.

I have a Kindle to read ebooks and I breeze through them. I read most romance books as ebooks and can get through them in a few hours. Physical books take me longer to read because they're fantasies or non-fiction and I also annotate them more than ebooks. Audiobooks are the least read because I prefer to listen to music most of the time and don't listen to audiobooks as much.

how i acquire my books

kindle unlimited

Out of the 143 ebooks that I read in 2022, almost 100 are from Kindle Unlimited. I had a Kindle Unlimited subscription throughout the year and used it as much as I could. Whenever I come across an interesting book, I check if it is available on KU first. Since I follow many readers online who also use KU, most of the books they recommend are available on it. I don't often come across romance books that aren't on KU. Social media is the main driver for my romance reading.

I'm more lenient about picking what to read if the book is available on KU. It's for free and if I don't like it, I can easily DNF and return it. So, if the book sounds even mildly interesting, I read it. Of course, I do come across many books that I don't like as much because of this. But it's alright. Sometimes, I find gems that don't look great but are actually amazing (like The Mindf*ck series by S. T. Abby).

Honestly, the Kindle Unlimited subscription is a saviour for me because it has a lot of books that are unavailable or are too expensive otherwise. For example, Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin was over 600 rupees as a paperback and ebook but was available on KU so I read it for much lesser. And I absolutely loved it.

A major reason why this works for me is that I'm not as attached to most books that I read. Even if I enjoy them, I don't want to own them forever. A few books are exceptional and I want to own them (like The Darkverse series by RuNyx) but I'd rather borrow most of the books.

I'm also a huge romance reader and several brilliant indie romance books are available to borrow on KU. It almost single-handedly supplements my romance reading. Unfortunately, if a book becomes popular, it is taken off KU so that the author can earn more. So, I mostly get to read books that aren't as popular. Sometimes, it is satisfying because I read books for free before they blow up and are taken off the plan (like The Plated Prisoner series by Raven Kennedy).

If you want some recommendations, I have a long list of KU romance recommendations for you!

The subscription is 169 rupees per month which is great considering that most books are easily twice that price, even if I want to buy ebooks.

If you're in India and are earning or you have 170 to spare every month, definitely get a KU subscription (provided books of your taste are available on it). I don't like Amz as a corporation but it's the only one that provides a really good plan here.

illustration of an open book and a cup next to it, surrounded by two half wreaths of leaves and some sparkles on everything

second-hand bookstores

One of the best parts of living in Bangalore as a reader is having Church Street to go to. The street has several bookstores, all of which carry pre-loved copies and buy back the books at half price. I will admit it, if I did not live in this city, I would go broke buying physical books.

Out of all those bookstores, there is one which is my favourite place to go to. I've been frequenting Blossoms bookstore for years. I buy books there, read them on my own time, and "exchange" the books at every visit. It's amazing because every new book is sold at 80% of the actual price and I can sell back the book to them later for half of the price I paid. They give the amount as credit so it gets discounted in the next bill.

I have made it a rule that I will only go to the bookstore if I have books to sell back. This is beneficial in two ways:

  • I unhaul books frequently. Again, the reason I'm able to do this easily is that I'm not as attached to books and don't want to own most of them forever. If I love a book a lot, I will keep it. If I don't like it as much a few years later, I can easily sell it back that time. There is no "end date" for returning the books.
  • I save money every time I buy books. It saves me from worrying about my finances.

Every bookstore has its own vibe and is curated according to the owners. Blossoms and Bookworm are the two most popular bookstores and both have very different vibes. Blossoms alone has two branches in the same street and even they are different from each other. Bookworm conducts cool author events as well. There is definitely a place for every reader.

Lately, I have made it a point to go into the bookstore without a list in mind. I want to read books that I don't come across on socials or that call out to me in person instead of only sticking to what algorithms show me. I may pick up books that I've heard of but I don't go in with books in mind. Through this habit, I've already read quite a few amazing books that I wouldn't have read otherwise. In my last bookstore haul, I got three books that I'm very excited to read and I didn't even know two of them existed before I saw them in the store.

This is the biggest reason why my reading is still a little wide instead of being completely filled with romance books. There's nothing wrong with them but I enjoy other books and need to read them even if they take me longer to read.

flatlay illustration of a wooden table with a potted plant, open book, sticky tabs, a phone, coffee, and airpods on it.


I have almost stopped buying physical books online. I bought maybe 3 paperback books online in 2022. The main reason is that I don't want to support Amz more, especially when I have bookstores that I can easily go to. I try not to buy on Flipkart because I've seen that they often send pirated copies. Books that aren't available in the bookstores will come in eventually or are super expensive online as well.

The only time I buy online is when there is a huge sale going on. This doesn't happen very often because sales are generally limited to electronics and home appliances. Even when books are included, none of the books that I'm interested in is discounted. Even when there is a sale, I am very harsh on choosing the books to buy. If it's discounted only a little bit, I would rather buy it in the bookstore anyway because I can easily unhaul it later.

I think the one significant online purchase I made in the last two years was Killing Commandatore by Haruki Murakami. It is a very thick hardcover and I got it for less than 200 rupees. It is not something I would read generally but it was a steal and one of my goals for 2023 is to read it.

The reason I'm hesitant to buy physical books outside of second-hand bookstores is that I can't unhaul them easily. Unless I really want a book, I don't buy any. Hence, I don't buy through Book Depository or other independent sites as well.

I buy ebooks online more than physical books. I don't buy too many but I buy them often enough. As much as KU helps, it doesn't have all the books that I want. Sometimes, there's a romance sequel that isn't on KU. If I really want to read a book and the ebook price sounds reasonable, I buy it.

Sometimes, even ebooks are atrociously priced. I've seen ebooks that are more expensive than the full price of most physical books on my bookshelf. In those cases, I complain to my closest friends, add them to my wishlist, and hope that they become affordable someday. Otherwise, I ponder for over two weeks on whether to buy them or not. Most of the time, I convince myself to not buy them.

With some books (like Glow by Raven Kennedy), the want is too much and I buy it as a "gift" to myself, lol. (I paid almost 700 rupees for the Glow ebook. I waited about a month after release to see if the price would reduce but it didn't and I wanted to read it badly. The book was great but... it was still a splurge.)

an illustration of a person wearing brown sweater and light beige skirt, holding three books in their arms

advanced reader copies / ARCs

I've been book blogging for 7 years and I've always had a rocky relationship with ARCs. I accepted many from authors and put myself on Netgalley and Edelweiss+. I requested a few ARCs from publishing companies too (with no luck).

A couple of years back, I realized that ARCs did not work well for me. I've read amazing books through Netgalley and review requests (like Purple Lotus by Veena Rao) but most of them were underwhelming. It's mainly because I don't get the books that I really want and end up settling for books that are mildly interesting. Almost every book that I really want to read and might like is available on Netgalley as "wish for it" and I have never had a wish granted.

Netgalley was discouraging and I didn't like most of the books I read and hence couldn't promote them well. Some books are still unread because I'm a mood reader and I never got the mood. In the last few years, I have begun to dislike most YA books as well and would rather not read them.

Now, I don't request ARCs or go looking for them. I don't keep up with the latest or upcoming releases to even know what books are trending. I am open to review requests but I'm very picky about what I accept. I really don't want to feel guilty about not getting to books and/or not enjoying them enough to promote them well.

Overall, I read a few ARCs but not too many.

advanced listening copies / ALCs

I used to have a Storytel subscription for audiobooks. It was a liiitle expensive considering I didn't read many audiobooks so I used to listen to audiobooks as much as possible to make the expenditure worth it. Once I got into the Influencer ALC program at and started getting a few ALCs every month, I stopped my Storytel subscription and started using only this.

I used to claim all of the ALCs in the beginning because I'm a mood reader and would read almost everything. I got them and thought that I will read them sometime in the future when mood strikes. Since then, my lifestyle has changed and I don't read as many audiobooks as I used to. Now, I claim around 2 every month, depending on what interests me.

After trying a bunch, I've learnt that I can't listen to heavy books so I take romance books and light-hearted non-fiction. If I really want to read a book that I wouldn't be able to get otherwise in the bookstore, I get that too (like my current read The Last Tale of the Flower Bride by Roshani Chokshi).

illustration of an open book placed on the stems of two sunflowers so that they are peeking out behind the book

other miscellaneous sources

I'm fortunate to receive at least a couple of books every year as gifts from friends. They generally buy me stuff from my wishlist. For my last birthday, my best friend took me bookstore shopping.

I own a couple of custom editions that I got through an Instagram shop. They're my splurges during the times that I really want pretty books.

If I'm able to, I borrow books as well. Unfortunately, not many in my circle are avid readers but if they happen to have a book that I'm interested in, I borrow it. (A few months back, I gifted a book to a friend and later borrowed it haha.)


As an avid reader, having multiple sources and formats really helps to keep up a reading habit. I tend to read multiple books at once—generally one in every format. Sometimes, I read two paperbacks if one of them takes long to read or I'm reading it chapter by chapter.

Even if I don't finish one book every day, I tend to finish three over 10 days because I read multiple at a time. I quite enjoy switching between formats and books depending on my mood. Comfort also factors in—I only read ebooks or audiobooks while travelling.

ARCs and ALCs help me follow the reading trends in the book community a little. I don't care about it as much but it does help to have people to talk to about books. Back when I tried very hard to be active in the online book community, I read too many new releases and neglected my backlist TBR. Thankfully, I grew out of that quickly. While it is good to hype new releases, there are several backlist books that deserve more appreciation than what they've received.

As of now, most of my books are from Kindle Unlimited. It might change in the future only if romance stops being my main genre, I think.

A main point to note is that I don't borrow books from the library. Firstly, most places in the Global South do not have libraries, let alone good ones. I am fortunate to live in a metropolitan city that has good bookstores. Many cities in my country don't even have that. And no, we don't have Libby or Overdrive as well. It is hard enough to find libraries with physical copies, there are ZERO libraries providing ebooks and audiobooks.

When I was younger, a privately owned library started my reading journey but it shut down a couple of years later. I tried another library chain but it was simply too expensive and didn't have enough young adult books (and hence I started reading adult fiction earlier than I should have). There is fortunately a new privately owned library nearby run by a couple who turned part of their apartment into a library with their personal book collection. Since it started as a private collection, it doesn't have books for everyone, of course. It is also not easy for me to visit because there isn't public transportation from my place to that location. I still was a member for over a year but had to stop when my schedule simply didn't allow for that complicated commute.

I am in a privileged enough position to have at least one option even if it isn't a good fit for me. If I lived in any other city in India (except a couple), I wouldn't have had any option other than online stores.

The above fact is one of the reasons why I wanted to write this post. Almost every person who reads a lot is able to do it because of libraries. I wanted to show how I manage without them.

If you're in a similar situation as me, I hope this post was helpful for you. Try finding privately owned libraries and bookstores, and try subscriptions like Kindle Unlimited and Storytel that work like online libraries. The important part is to keep a lookout for any that open up and support them so that they stay open.

what about you?

How do you acquire your books? Do you have certain patterns in how you acquire and pick what to read? Which source is clearly the winner for you? Tell me in the comments!

photo of Sumedha

Sumedha spends her days reading books, bingeing Kdramas, drawing illustrations, and blogging while listening to Lo-Fi music. Read more ➔

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  • Dedra @ A Book Wanderer says:

    I love second hand bookstores, and one of my favorite things to do is scouring thrift stores for books. There's nothing like a good find! I had a trial subscription to KU last year that came with my new kindle, but I didn't renew it once it ran out. I enjoyed the subscription, but I have too many existing books on my shelves and kindle I felt like I should prioritize. Maybe someday I'll go back to it! Great post!

    Reply ➔
    • sumedha @ the wordy habitat says:

      Agreed! haha that’s one problem with KU, your backlist tbr will not reduce. i’ve borrowed at least 8 new books on KU in the last few days ??
      thank you, Dedra!

      Reply ➔
  • Epsita says:

    Loved reading This post! It was so comprehensive and informative. I loved Blossoms when I visited Bangalore!

    I read a lot of ebooks too and although I don't want to support Amz either, ebooks are the better option for books that I will read only once. I use Audible to listen to audiobooks because its cheaper and Gpay usually has a free voucher for audible. I also use Amz for buying books when I am in places with no bookstores. I haven't subscribed to KU yet but after reading your post, I am going to browse its catalogue to see if it has books of my liking.

    Reply ➔
    • sumedha @ the wordy habitat says:

      I’m glad you loved it, Epsita!! Ahh so glad you’ve visited Blossoms, I lowkey want everyone to visit at least once haha.

      I get that and relate. Unfortunately there’s no ethical consumption under capitalism, we can just do how much ever possible.
      Do check out KU, Storytel, and Scribd. the prices vary but at least one of them should fit your reading.

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      • Epsita says:

        Blossoms is an amazing bookstore. Its my favorite along with Kitab Khana in Mumbai haha.

        Exactly!! You can't escape capitalism. Thanks for the suggestions!

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  • Molly's Book Nook says:

    I always try Kindle Unlimited but I never read anything on it lol I've subscribed and unsubscribed so many times. I think it's just that I dont read ebooks often, but I should start! I mostly get my books from amazon and then audiobooks from the library or audible.

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  • Inah says:

    I used to subscribe to KU as well but I cancelled it. Being a moody reader, it's hard to justify paying for the service when most of the time I don't end up using it at all! I also rarely buy physical books, now that I own a Kindle and I just usually browse the deals from time to time.

    Love the new theme by the way!!!!

    Reply ➔
    • sumedha @ the wordy habitat says:

      that makes sense! the only reason i have it even though i’m a mood reader as well is because even reading one romance book every month is worth paying that amount because it is still lesser than what i’d pay for the boon otherwise ? have you tried Scribd? i’ve heard it’s also good but yeah it has to be affordable for you.

      thank you, Inah!!

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  • Stephanie | The Espresso Edition says:

    I absolutely love learning about the way people acquire books and what their reading journey has looked like over the years. Yours was no exception. It's really cool that you've discovered such a love for KU books and it was interesting finding out your thoughts on ARCs! I grew up as an avid library user and to this day, it's how I read 99% of my books. I have 5 library cards and only purchase books once I've read them, loved them, and know I'll want to read them again (because... unlike you, I definitely get attached to books haha)! I was really thrilled to learn recently that there are some libraries in the US that allow people from other countries to get cards there. I think that's really cool and I hope that more of them do that in the future to make reading more accessible across the globe! 🙂

    Reply ➔
    • sumedha @ the wordy habitat says:

      I’m glad you liked it! I’m nosy about such things and love to know other people’s habits and routines as well haha.

      there are libraries in the US that allow cards for people from other countries?? do you know of any or how they work because i may know someone who is interested ??

      Reply ➔
  • abookowlscorner says:

    This was really interesting! We definitely have a few similarities in our book acquisition habits, but also some differences ?

    Like you, I don't rely on libraries that much - we do have plenty of good ones, but the majority of the books in there are German translations of things I'd rather read in English, so I'm stuck with their abysmally small German literature and foreign language sections ? Which means that e-books have also been my salvation! However, I don't use KU, but Scribd. Romance has never been a genre I read all that much of, so Scribd's broader selection has always been perfect for me! Especially since both subscriptions cost about 10€ a month here...

    As for the physical books I buy, I have to confess that I do order most of them online. I get a few from bookshops - new and second-hand - but again, I face the difficulty of not having that many books to choose from if I want to read them in English. So if I really, really want to own a book, I usually cave and order it online. I try to only buy physical copies of books if I'm sure I'll be rereading them often, though - so usually, that will mean I've already read the book as an e-book or that it's part of a series I love / by an author I really trust by now.

    Reply ➔
    • sumedha @ the wordy habitat says:

      Thank you!

      I understand that! One “travelling library” that came around my old place wasn’t good for me because it had books in the regional languages and had only 5 books in English. I had to resort to online methods for English, even if they’re written by Indian authors ? Scribd sounds great! Unfortunately it is almost twice the KU subscription here so I’m not getting it for now haha. I don’t understand the pricing across countries but oh well. At least KU is lesser.

      I’m the same! I only buy books outside of the second hand bookstore if i’ve loved them as ebooks and know that i won’t want to unhaul them.

      thanks for the comment, Naemi!

      Reply ➔
  • Raji (@journeyintofantasy) says:

    This was such an interesting read! I always find it fun to learn how other readers get their books as well as their reading habits. I got my love of reading from my mom too, she basically had a library at home growing up because her entire family were and still are huge bibliophiles! Thanks for sharing Sumedha!

    Reply ➔
  • yourwordsmyink says:

    You've made me consider getting a KU subscription. I also don't have access to a library, and I mostly get my books on Scribd, LibroFM, or Netgalley. I try to be better with book buying, but sometimes I struggle. We do have some good bookstores here, which doesn't help with the book buying thing lol.

    Reply ➔
    • sumedha @ the wordy habitat says:

      From what I know, KU subscription isn't affordable everywhere but do check for it, especially if you're an indie romance reader. I totally understand that haha, which is why I'm restricting myself by going to bookstores where I can sell back books.

      Reply ➔
  • AmandaKay says:

    So interesting to hear how other readers get their books! I do a lot of ebooks as well, as ARCs and through Libby.

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  • Louise says:

    Hey Sumedha! Are there no libraries near you? I get a huge number of ebooks out of the library, I’m lucky that mine is a regional library so has a bigger choice available than what would be available in my towns library. I’d never be able to read as many as I do without having access to both ebooks and audio books via my library!

    Reply ➔
    • sumedha @ the wordy habitat says:

      Hey Louise, I live in India and we do not have good libraries. Generally, libraries aren’t available in the Global South countries. The only private library near me closed after two years. I actually meant to add a section on libraries and explain the situation but I missed it. Thanks for reminding me, will add it later.

      Reply ➔