How reading on a kindle feels.

Kindle Unlimited Book Recommendations for the Cash-Strapped Student

Reading on a budget has never been easier!
August 24, 2022
10 mins read

Let’s face it: Reading is expensive. While a shelf full of your favorite books is fun to look at, paying for them is much less enjoyable. A hardback copy of the latest fantasy bestseller can run up to $30, and even the cartoon-cover paperback books popular on BookTok are well over $10 each. Especially for college students who are already breaking the bank over their schooling, purchasing dozens of physical books a month is just not realistic. That’s why many readers are turning to less tangible reading options, like Kindle Unlimited.

While booklovers can debate the benefits of reading physical books versus digital formats, they must all agree that e-books are the cheapest option. Available for instant download on a phone or Kindle device, the digital format makes reading an affordable hobby for booklovers of all ages. Without the need for physical building materials or energy resources to transport books to booksellers, e-books are an eco-friendly option for readers on a budget. And with subscription services like Kindle Unlimited offering millions of books for a once-a-month fee, there’s no limit to how much you can read.

But with so many stories to choose from, finding your next best read on Kindle Unlimited isn’t always easy. Full of big names and independent authors alike, the expansive catalog can feel like a maze to new readers. But no longer! Blending the best of BookTok’s recommendations with some hidden gems buried deep in your TBR, here are some of the best books Kindle Unlimited has to offer in each of your favorite genres.

1. Romance: “Regretting You” by Colleen Hoover

One of the most popular authors on BookTok, Colleen Hoover delivers yet another heartbreaking romance with her 2019 novel, “Regretting You.” Split between the perspectives of an overprotective mother, Morgan, and her stubborn teenage daughter, Clara, the novel explores the life of an imperfect family struck by tragedy. When a fatal car crash leaves Morgan without a husband and Clara without a father, grief shatters this newly broken family, and those who remain must struggle to cope with the aftermath. As long-buried secrets rise to the surface faster than anyone can handle, both Morgan and Clara seek comfort in the most dangerous people at the expense of each other. One of Hoover’s most human novels, “Regretting You” brings to life the pain of parenthood as mother and daughter take parallel journeys from loss to love.

Published directly by Amazon Publishers, it’s no surprise the latest CoHo books are available on Kindle Unlimited. The author is known for her streak in independent publishing, as is the platform known for its love of independent books. Alongside her other indie novels, “Heart Bones” (2021) and “Reminders of Him” (2022), Hoover’s books are among the most popular in the Kindle catalog. Earning the praise of Booklist, People Magazine, Publishers Weekly and more, Hoover’s “Regretting You” is perfect for romance readers looking for a love story as complicated and rewarding as real life

2. Magical Realism: “Before the Coffee Gets Cold” by Toshikazu Kawaguchi

Regret and second chances collide like never before in Toshikazu Kawaguchi’s “Before the Coffee Gets Cold.” Set in a back-alley cafe in Tokyo, the 2015 novel introduces a shop that serves more than coffee: For the right price, customers can order a trip to the past. Over the course of one summer, four customers journey to the cafe seeking their own second chances. But they quickly realize that making things right in the past will cost more of their future than they are willing to bargain. Powered by a striking premise and the emotional weight of its characters, this 230-page story is as short as life’s opportunities themselves. The Japanese playwright’s debut novel, “Before the Coffee Gets Cold” lets Kawaguchi put his own spin on time travel as he asks his readers, “If you could go back, who would you want to meet?”

Much like time itself, this author’s story is not yet resolved. “Before the Coffee Gets Cold” is the first book in a trilogy set to conclude this November with Kawaguchi’s upcoming novel, “Before Your Memory Fades.” With the same magic but different customers, each book in the series brings a fresh face — and a fresh heartbreak — to the little Japanese cafe. While the second (and likely third) book are not available on Kindle Unlimited, they are available for purchase in the Kindle store. And after tasting the dark roast of this coffee shop’s plot, you’ll want to go back for more.

3. Fantasy: “Dance of Thieves” by Mary E. Pearson

Taking a more obvious approach to magic, Mary E. Pearson abandons our world entirely in favor of her own in her 2018 fantasy novel. Set on a magical continent full of warring kingdoms, “Dance of Thieves” follows the female assassin Kazimyrah of Brightmist and the son of the kingdom she is sent to destroy. After the death of the Ballenger patriarch, Jase Ballenger is thrust into his father’s role. Already stuck in a world he loves but is not ready to rule, Kazi seems personally determined to make his job that much harder. Motivated by her queen’s command and her own personal plot for revenge, Kazi infiltrates the Ballenger family, and in the process infiltrates Jase’s heart. With a new betrayal waiting at every corner, this enemies-to-lovers romance rivals even Sarah J. Maas’ fantasy love affairs.

But “Dance of Thieves” isn’t Pearson’s only book available on Kindle Unlimited. In fact, it’s not even her only book set in this fantasy world. A spin-off series to the author’s Remnant Chronicles, “Dance of Thieves” is set in the Kingdom of the Remnant, a world established by the author in her 2014 book, “The Kiss of Deception.” Though you don’t need to read the Remnant Chronicles to understand the plot of “Dance of Thieves,” readers willing to dive back in time (or fans following up on the original series) will find the story’s hidden references sweeter than the most elusive of oranges.

4. Thriller: “The Perfect Marriage” by Jeneva Rose

Writing another masterpiece wrapped in mystery, Jeneva Rose knocked it out of the park with her psychological thriller “The Perfect Marriage.” The novel follows Sarah Morgan, a successful defense attorney trapped in an unsuccessful marriage. Her husband, Adam, is the total opposite: A stay-at-home writer more concerned with a cereal box than his career, Adam doesn’t understand Sarah’s passion for her work. So, while his wife is working long hours to support their home, he starts looking for companionship outside his marriage. But when Adam’s mistress is found brutally murdered in their family’s secluded lake house, Sarah must take on her most grueling client yet: her own husband. Forced to defend the man in a court of law, Sarah hopes the only thing her husband is guilty of is adultery.

An up-and-coming author, Rose has earned the praise of the book community with her 2020 novel. Reviews like “Everything you want out of a thriller” and “WHAT AN ENDING!” dominate the author’s comment sections. “The Perfect Marriage” is one of the top read fiction books on Amazon, surpassing even books outside of Kindle Unlimited’s free catalog. As praise for Rose piles up, it seems that readers and reviewers alike agree: If you’re looking for a book that’s as tantalizing as it is thrilling, “The Perfect Marriage” is a perfect read.

5. Dystopian: “The Selection” by Kiera Cass

A favorite pulled from many people’s childhoods, Kiera Cass’ bestselling book, “The Selection,” is ranked No. 1 in Teen & Young Adult Historical Romance. Set in a futuristic world following the third World War, the novel follows America Singer, who belongs to a kingdom that turns love into a competition. When America is chosen to participate in the Selection, she must leave behind her family and travel to the palace where she and 34 other girls will compete for the hand of the crowned prince of Iléa, Maxon Schreave. But unlike her competitors, America doesn’t want a crown. She’s not even sure she wants Maxon. All America knows is that she misses home, but after a breakup left her heart broken in her own backyard, home is the last place she can be. A friends-to-lovers favorite for many, “The Selection” is a great dystopian read — or reread.

Pitched as the Bachelor but with royalty, Cass’ debut took the world by storm when it was first released in 2012. In an era when dystopian stories dominated YA bookshelves, “The Selection” was an instant bestseller, capturing the hearts of preteen girls everywhere. Though its current popularity on BookTok is mostly due to Kindle Unlimited readers reliving the nostalgia of their favorite middle school reads, the book is captivating even for first time readers. With page-turning political intrigue and a romance that promises butterflies from the first kiss, “The Selection” is a feel-good classic in the making.

From childhood favorites to recent releases, Kindle Unlimited has thousands of books that you are sure to love. Whether you’re looking for a new adult romance that will make your toes tingle or a YA fantasy that will remind you why you love reading in the first place, your TBR is sure to grow with the addition of this e-book subscription. Featuring the same great stories for a fraction of the cost, reading as a college student has never been easier.

Aunna Beranek, Columbia College Chicago

Writer Profile

Aunna Beranek

Columbia College Chicago
English, Minor in Creative Writing (Fiction Concentration)

An aspiring writer and editor trying to figure out how to build a career out of crying in the dark over fictional characters.

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