Wider Reading on a Budget

If youโ€™re considering applying to a top university, books can be a really useful way to research courses, delve deeper into concepts, and find focus in your personal statement.

Free Resources - In-person

School Libraries - School libraries are a fantastic first step when looking for a book. Even if the book youโ€™re looking for isnโ€™t there, a librarian may be able to recommend something similar or, in some cases, be able to order the book in on your behalf. Either way, speaking to teachers and librarians for book advice is very useful!

Local Libraries ๐Ÿ”— ๐ŸŒŸ Local libraries in the UK are administered by local councils, and the size and scope of the libraries can vary depending on where you live or have access to. Most cities will have large, well-stocked, public libraries which will stock books on a wide variety of topics. Again, speaking to librarians is immensely useful for finding and using books. Normally, libraries can order in texts for you, or borrow them from nearby libraries too.

Free Resources - Online

Project Gutenberg ๐Ÿ”— ๐ŸŒŸ This website is a great first stop if youโ€™re looking for a specific book. The website has a collection of more than 60,000 eBooks free for use. In my experience it can be hard to gauge which books are worth reading from the website, but if youโ€™re looking for a specific title then this is a great resource.

Google Books ๐Ÿ”— Google Books carries information on nearly every book you might want to look at in preparation for your application. Occasionally Google Books can direct you straight to an online eBook for free, other times Google might carry previews of large parts of the book. Otherwise Google Books can usually direct you to a website to buy a book. Google Books text is also searchable, so if youโ€™re looking for a specific part of a specific book you can often find it really quickly.

The Open Library ๐Ÿ”— ๐ŸŒŸ The Open Library has thousands of free online eBooks, both fiction and non-fiction. This is a great stop when looking for a certain book.

LibriVox Audiobooks ๐Ÿ”— LibriVox is a volunteer-run online library of audiobooks. Here you can find lots of audio readings of plays, which can be particularly handy when studying literature, as often listening to the dramatisation of scenes can be more helpful than simply reading them.

Internet Archive ๐Ÿ”— ๐ŸŒŸ Internet Archive is a free, non-profit online database of books, films, software and more. It might be a good stop to help you find a certain work.

Cheap Resources - Online

AbeBooks ๐Ÿ”— ๐ŸŒŸ AbeBooks is a marketplace for independent booksellers to sell their books online. Youโ€™re very likely to find an edition of a book you want for a very reasonable price. There are a number of equivalent sites (linked at the bottom of the UK site for buying books from France, New Zealand, Australia, Italy, Canada, and Germany).

World of Books ๐Ÿ”— World of Books buys back books from charity shops, so they often have copies of textbooks and academic literature which might be helpful for you. The best way to search for texts is by author on this site, as searching by title can confuse the algorithm a little bit.

Oxfam online ๐Ÿ”— While you might not have much luck looking for specific books in physical charity shops, Oxfamโ€™s online shop carries a huge collection. Usually charity shops send textbooks and academic works to their online stores, so youโ€™ve got a good chance of finding a book youโ€™re looking for here. You could also search for the online stores of other big name charity shops too, if you donโ€™t have any success with Oxfam.

Amazon ๐Ÿ”— While Amazon does carry new editions of a wide variety of books, independent retailers can also list second-hand books here which sell much cheaper. These books are typically in good condition, normally sold on from libraries.

Did you spot a typo or formatting issue? Let us know by emailing us at [email protected].