Sunday, January 1, 2017

How I Read So Much for Free

I don't know about you, but I find this very depressing: 

(I've tried finding more current stats to make sure these numbers are still accurate, but I haven't dug any up. If you find some, let me know, please.)

We need to be reading, folks! Books open your mind and imagination. If nothing else, they serve as entertainment. At best, they teach you how to appreciate other people's worldviews and help you learn some compassion. Let's talk a little bit about how I read so many books for (nearly) free.

At any rate, I'm one of those horrible people who don't buy more than five books in a year. That's an average of less than half a book per month, folks. But in 2016, I read well over 100 books. How does that work? Two words: the library. Two more words: electronic books. Two last words: my Kindle

There. My super secrets. Our library has a wonderful online collection via Overdrive, and I use it nearly religiously. I can check books out for 30 days, which is usually more than enough time, and if I do run out of time, I can renew easily without losing my spot. Every once in a great long while, I'll check a physical book out of the library (e.g., something super-recently released that hasn't been added to the online collection yet), but since I'm so rarely in the actual library, I don't do this very often.

If you check out my previous post, you'll see that I encourage use of audiobooks. Our library's Overdrive collection has a lot of the most popular books on audio, and the narrators are typically rather wonderful. My kids and I are especially fond of David Tennant's wonderful readings of the How to Train Your Dragon series by Cressida Cowell. It was his performance on those books that led me to be a Doctor Who fan, actually (yes, I'm one of those people whose first Doctor is Christopher Eccleston...I'll eventally get to the classic Doctors, but today is not the day). Last year, I loved Aziz Ansari's reading of Modern Romance and Billy Crystal's narration of Still Foolin' Em. Although listening to a book isn't quite the same as reading it, I still count audiobooks toward my annual reading totals. Listening to the news is the same as reading the news, right? Same principle here.

Finally, my Kindle. Oh, how I love my Kindle. I was a first-generation adopter way back in 2008. I spent a significant amount of graduation money on that device, and it lasted until 2013. One of my kids accidentally crunched it, but I decided to love her anyway. Now, every one of us in our fiver family has our own Kindle. The kids love theirs and take exceptionally good care of them (ages: 10, 8, 6). My husband's Kindle has been to Iraq and Afghanistan. When it isn't being used my Kindle is either on my bedside table or in my purse, ready for its next adventure. Kindle's charges last forever (forever being about two weeks for me), and they are light as can be, which means there is zero burden on my shoulders when toting it around. I want to say my Kindle has about 200 books on it right now, but I really have no idea. It's a lot. I've read many of them and intend to read most of them by the end of 2017. 

If you're thinking about purchasing an e-reader, I highly recommend it. Yes, you can read on your tablet, iPad, or phone. Sure. But the glare is killer. Plus, the battery dies quickly. Finally, I don't like distractions. When I get alerts on my devices, I feel that horrible compulsion to see what's going on. Then I waste time on email, Facebook, or whatever instead of using it on my book. Plus, Kindles are much lighter than tablets. This is bonus brownie points because I do not like heavy purses. 

Any Kindle is going to be good. I have the basic one that is a few generations old. It's got advertisements that I ignore. Actually, most of our family's Kindles are used models. We found them at local yard sales or on Craigslist. They were super cheap and in great condition. Mine even came with Star Wars books that the owner forgot to delete. Woohoo! :) The kids and I got our Kindles for $25, used. My husband's was brand-new three years ago, and I bought it during an Amazon buy-back of old Kindles program. I think it ended up being about $45? The Kindle purchase accounts for the "almost" part of the free reading bit. Over the years, my Kindle has averaged about $8/year. Next year, it'll be even less. Yes!

Now, I said I don't buy many books every year. This is a slightly nebulous statement. I "buy" free books on Amazon every once in a long while. Sign up for an account on to get weekly notifications on discounted books. There's always at least one free book listed in your Friday email's recommended list. Also, Amazon has a lovely "Top 100 Free" list in their bestsellers section. It tends to be laden with smutty novels, but sometimes you get some real gems like Book One of the Miss Peregrine's Peculiar Children series. Right now, there's an autobiography on Nikola Tesla and an interesting-looking sci-fi novel available for free.

Additionally, I sometimes earn credits for choosing slower shipping than the free Amazon Prime two days. I save the credits and purchase books with them. Since I didn't really spend money on them, I don't consider them true expenditures.

Finally, if you're a Prime member, then you must check out Prime Reading. There are all kinds of beauties available to discover there. Also, you get to choose one free, early-release for Prime members only book every month via Kindle First


So...that's how I read so much for so little, folks. I use the tools I've got via the library and Amazon's free book opportunities. There are many, many more ways to get free books (e.g., Blogging for Books). Feel free to leave reading tips in the comments.

Disclaimer: I get tiny kick-backs from Amazon if you order from the links in this post. If you don't want that, then search for the items on your own browser. Just a tip: use to support your favorite charity. The pennies add up if you're an Amazon frequent flier. Also, I didn't get paid for the Amazon-centric post. I just really love their free books.

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