I love to read. When I haven’t read anything in awhile I start to feel like one of those weirdos who writes “I DONT READ LOL” under “Favorite Books” on their Facebook profile. And then I die a little inside.
I’m on a shoestring budget. And dude, books are crazy expensive. Also, I try not to own more stuff than I need. I culled my books down to one tiny bookshelf and I'm determined to keep my books contained there. So what's a girl to do?
There are some of the ways I manage to get my hands on new reading material without paying a cent. It may not be as sexy as a box of crisp new books from Amazon, but you can't argue with free.
Let’s cover the obvious first. Get thee to a library and get a library card. Friends, we pay for public libraries with our hard-earned tax dollars. They’re taking it whether you use it or not, so you might as well get your money’s worth.
Libraries have come a long way since you were little. If my public library doesn't have a book that I want, they’ll check all of the other libraries in their “network” and have it shipped to my local library for me to pick up FOR FREE. Their website lets me see what they have available and reserve it so that I know it will be there when I show up.
Additionally, they lend audiobooks. I rent them and burn them to my iPod to listen to at my leisure. And I don’t feel guilty.
2. Book Share
Start a Book Share with your friends or coworkers. At my job, we have a Book Share box where we leave books and magazines that we’ve finished. When I cleaned out my bookshelves, this is where most of the books went. I check the box daily, and once in awhile I come across something I’m interested in. When I finish it, it goes back in the box.
Lots of coffee shops do this, too. Swing by Starbucks and see what people may have left there.
Bonus Points: How about starting your very own Little Free Library?
Project Gutenberg offers over 40,000 free ebooks in plain text and e-book formats. Project Gutenberg is free because the copyrights of the books they provide have all expired, meaning you won’t find new releases, but you will find virtually any classic you can name. I’ve re-read some of my favorites like the Adventures of Sherlock Holmes and discovered a lot of new-to-me classics.
Amazon offers a bunch of Limited-Time Offers for free ebooks (often new titles) as well as a great collections of free Popular Classics that are out of copyright.
Don’t have a Kindle? Not a problem, because Amazon has a whole collection of Free Kindle Reading Apps for your computer, iPad or smartphone.
Ditto on Barnes and Noble, who also offers a collection of free ebooks and reading apps for various platforms. Also, like a public library that you just can’t check anything out of, you can go to a brick and mortar Barnes and Noble and literally sit there all day reading anything they have. Seriously, they’re ok with it. It’s actually part of their business model. Just be polite, buy a coffee or something and for the love of maude don't take any books into the bathroom.
6. Free Audiobooks from Librivox (my favorite thing ever)
This one is my personal obsession. I love love love Librivox. If squeezing in time to read is tough or you like to multitask, get some free audiobooks to listen to while you do other stuff! Librivox offers a huge collection of free, public domain audiobooks read by a fleet of volunteers that you can download to your computer or smartphone and listen to on the go. Most of the narration is quite good, but if one narrator just doesn’t suit your ears, most of their books have several versions available which are read by different people.
Are you still reading real books, or have you made the jump to ebooks?