Reading used to be as essential as air to me when I was young. No really, you would never catch me without a good book – I’d read in the car, at the beach, and sometimes, to my mom’s discontent, at the dinner table. But as I got older, I guess life got in the way. And it only occurred to me how much I miss novels when I set a reading goal and forced myself to start up again.
It’s not as easy as it used to be; as an adult you have much less free time. Jobs and family get in the way, never mind the long boring commute or the struggle to eat healthy and get to the gym. Plus, by the time those things are taken care of, you’re exhausted and just want to turn your brain off.
Luckily, technology is awesome and here to save the day. Whether you’re a formerly avid reader trying to get back into the groove or you’re trying to seem cultured and intelligent to impress the ladies, there are many fun and affordable ways to fit literature into your busy lifestyle.
First, Get on Goodreads
Goodreads is an awesome way to make reading social, and signing up for an account is totally free. This popular book catalog and review platform allows you to keep track of what you’ve read, make lists of books you want to read, set reading goals, and monitor your progress.
Find recommendations based on your previous reading or browse new genres. Share and compare books with your friends, or interact with authors by following them, joining the discussion, and getting the latest updates. With Goodreads, you can track everything from novels to manga to textbooks. You can even preview most books and purchase them through Amazon.
Want more? I’ve personally spent hours on this site reminiscing and browsing potential reads. For more information, see our full Goodreads review.
Now that you’ve racked up 149 books on your to-read list, it’s time to get crackin’. From this point the question moves from “what should I read” to “how should I read?” And apart from walking to your town library or hopping over to Barnes & Nobles, some young hooligans have come up with these things called eBooks, and audio recordings, and… what was it? Oh yeah, Amazon.com.
Audiobook Stands for Amazing
I’ve recently discovered the time-saving joy and relative ease of “reading” audiobooks. Really, you’re just sitting there and listening to someone else tell you the story. Back in my gung-ho days, I thought this was a cop-out. But then I thought, what if you’re blind? Or worse, what if you have to drive a 40 minute commute every day with poor radio reception and the same 3 CDs playing over and over? So I downloaded LibriVox (iTunes, Android).
There are other services besides LibriVox, such as Audible or Audiobooks.com, but LibriVox provides a wide library of public domain recordings for free. Sure, those other sites offer 30-day trials, but after that you have to pay a monthly subscription fee.
Books in the common domain are free to the public because they’re generally out of copyright and were probably published 100 years ago or earlier. So if you’re down to party with Jane Austen, Mark Twain, and H.G. Wells, LibriVox is quite the goldmine.
More recent audiobooks like The Hunger Games, The Maze Runner, or Game of Thrones are available too, for purchase on an individual basis. The multi-tasking potential here really is high, and I greatly recommend LibriVox as a time-efficient way to catch up on the classics.
Alright. So there are physical books. Then there are audiobooks. Then there are eBooks. And what surprises a lot of people here is that you don’t need a dedicated eReader, like a Kindle or a Nook, in order to read an eBook.
In fact, the Kindle app has been pushed to all devices, so you can read from your iPhone, your tablet, your Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge, and yes, even your Windows Phone. And all of that common domain literature is free in eBook form here as well. Gnarly, right? Boy, do I wish I knew all this when I was in college.
So you can read your eBooks anywhere. But for me, since I’ve been using LibriVox on my Android phone, I’ve also been using its sister app, GuteBooks.
If you’re listening to a book in LibriVox, you can tap the three-dotted menu and select Open eBook. You’ll then be prompted to download GuteBooks if you haven’t already, and you’ll be brought to the companion eBook, where you can read along or switch mediums, continuing where you left off.
Like LibriVox, you can either stream as you go if you have a steady internet connection, or download the entire file so it’s available offline. GuteBooks also offers the same, simple UI, so it’s cleaner and not as crowded as Kindle’s Amazon storefront.
So there’s a huge reservoir of free virtual books and you don’t have to go buy any extra hardware to access them. But if all these methods are still too new age for you, and you’re too old to renew your library card or make your way to the book store, there’s still a way for you to enjoy reading at your leisure.
Call your granddaughter, or someone else who knows how to use a computer, and have her order the books you want on Amazon. Used books in good condition don’t cost much, and this way you can sit in your rocking chair and get any book you want delivered right to your home.
Amazon allows you to purchase or rent certain products, which is especially useful for students. If you’re not a book hoarder like me, you can even sell back your old books to Amazon for up to 80% of the sale value.
Moral of the Day
Public domain laws provide tons of free reading
Audiobooks are a godsend
Amazon kind of does everything (Goodreads, Kindle, Audible, Book Delivery)
So now that you’ve got a great platform to discover content you’ll love, there’s no excuse. Find something that inspires you, spark that imagination, and never ever stop.