Four great ways to read for free

While I am an avid reader, neither my bookshelf nor my wallet could afford to continually buy new ones. Thus, I am always looking for ways to avoid buying a new book. Here are a few of the ways that I’ve managed to fulfill my craving for the written word without sacrificing a lot of money.

1. Borrow from the library: I’m fortunate enough to live and New York, and this I have over 80 branches of my “local” library, but regardless of where you are you probably have at least one good library nearby. I’ve always been able to find something interesting to read at my local branch, and if I’m looking for something specific that they don’t have, then I can always get it in through an inter-library loan. The best part of all is that it’s always free.

2. Pull up a chair at your favorite bookstore: While it may seem strange to some, there is no reason not to use your local bookstore as a place to read. They certainly have a large selection of books to choose from, and often they have comfortable chairs where you can sit and relax. Many of the larger chain stores now even have cafes associated with them. So go, pick out a book, take a seat and enjoy yourself. And if you can’t quite get through the book in a single sitting, you can decide whether to buy it then, or to put it back and finish it up next time you stop by, as long as you can find your place – don’t just leave a bookmark and expect it to be there when you get back!

3. Find a friend with similar tastes: Finding a friend with a similar taste in books can be a goldmine, assuming you don’t both own the exact same books. I’m fortunate enough to have a number of people with whom I can share books, many of whom have significantly different tastes. Between my father, who provides me an endless supply of hand-me-down mystery/suspense/crime novels and various friends that provide everything from the latest award winners to hard science fiction, I have many sources to tap for a new book. Of course, I’m always willing to pass things along to them from my own collection as well.

4. An online source: Nowadays there are plenty of people looking to give away or trade their stuff online (see Freecycle; and Craigslist). However, many people don’t realize that there are a number of online communities dedicated solely to trading books. While I can’t vouch for all of those sites and their members, it’s good to know they are out there, and I’m willing to bet that if you dig deeper you may even find communities that revolve around the genre of your choice.

While these are all good options for free reading, there are some times when you are willing to spend a little to get a book. I’ll detail where I go for discounted books later.

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