5 Easy Ways to Read More (Without Spending a Fortune)

published Oct 21, 2021
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Credit: Lauren Kolyn

Reading is a great way to slow down from the constant rush of the everyday. Whether you prefer to get your reading in early or you like to unwind at the end of a long day with an engrossing book, that time with a good story can be entirely satisfying.

Even so, reading has become somewhat of a luxury — not only because of a potential lack of time but also because books can be very expensive. As a graduate student with assigned books to read every week, I picked up some tips and tricks to read books without spending a fortune from professors, peers and also self-discoveries. Here are five ways to read more — without spending a fortune.

Buy Secondhand Books

One of the easiest ways to read all the books you want to read without paying a lot of money is to give secondhand books a new home and a new life. Plenty of local bookstores have secondhand sections, and giving them your business helps both the store and your community at large.

My professors have also suggested abebooks and thriftbooks as good online second-hand bookstores, and so far neither has disappointed me in my quest for new reads. (You can also sell books on abebooks, which is a great way to give away books you have already read.) 

Utilize Bookstore Couches

Plenty of bookstores enjoy it when customers take their time browsing through books. While this may still be more of a pre-COVID reality, the couches are often there for a reason! 

This is a good way to determine if the book you are planning on purchasing is the right fit for you. By spending some time in the bookstore and really going through the pages, you’ll save money by buying something that satisfies you, and that you’ll most likely want to finish. Barnes & Noble even has an app called NOOK that allows you to browse and sample e-books when you are connected to their store WiFi. 

While you can certainly browse and preview books to your heart’s content, it’s important to be mindful of the space — especially if you frequent an independent bookstore. Buying a coffee or pastry at the in-store café can go a long way, as can being mindful not to damage a book as you leaf through it. And if you find a book you simply can’t put down, save up for it or buy it on your next visit, rather than marking your page and hoping that copy is still there when you return.

Sign Up for a Library Card

Libraries are a great way to have access to books without spending a lot of money — and by a lot, I mean no money at all. Libraries are also amazing buildings to spend time in. Think about the smell of books, as well as the calmness you feel in the quiet rooms while sharing it with fellow library-goers. 

Depending where you live, your library card may be entirely free so long as you show appropriate proof of residence. This will help you gain access to both digital and on-site books, educational resources, databases and more. In summary, check out your local libraries and get yourself a library card. 

Participate in Book Swaps

Book swapping is a great way to get new books while giving away books you know you will not be going back to. There are a couple of websites such as PaperBack Swap, BookCrossing and BookMooch that make trading easier. You can also book swap groups on Meetup and Facebook, or host your own book swapping party with friends and swap books you think the others will love in exchange for some new reads for your own shelf. 

Don’t Underestimate E-Books, Kindles, and Audiobooks

While I am personally a big fan of actual books that I can touch and annotate, e-books tend to be lower in price than physical copies. You also don’t need to have a dedicated device to access them, since you can read them on your laptop, tablet, or phone. 

Some websites provide members and subscribers with free books as well. BookBub has an array of categories with free e-books that are available for a limited time, and you can also subscribe to their emailing list to get notified about new titles. Manybooks also carries popular titles and has a wide range of free e-books, and many audiobook services have free trials, so you can always give each one a trial run to see if the format works for you before committing.