Get Your Beach Reads without Shelling Out Too Much

By Julie Ann
Now that the lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer are upon us, it’s time to start tackling that summer reading list! Whether it’s a requirement of your academic program or just for fun, the costs of all those books can add up if you purchase them. However, with a little bit of creativity and resourcefulness you can drastically cut down on the money you are shelling out for the pleasure of reading. Here are some suggestions.
Local Library:
This is probably the oldest and most obvious tip, but sometimes it’s easy to forget what a great resource your local library can be. A few years ago, after realizing I was spending way too much money on books, I started to frequent my local library. I checked out books on everything from royal families to the Holocaust to the Titanic. I learned a lot, saved lots of cash, and I don’t have books lying around that I will never read again. So if you haven’t been to your local library in a while, head on down, sign up for a library card and start checking out those books. (Bonus: Most libraries also offer a ton of other services and items to check out such as music and videos.)
Also, don’t forget about university libraries and church libraries. Many libraries also participate in an inter-library loan program, so if you can’t find what you need at your library, ask and they may be able to obtain it on loan from another library.
A few months ago my mom got me a Kindle for my birthday. I was very excited because I don’t like the hassle of hauling a heavy book around. In general, eBooks are cheaper than printed books (and environmentally friendly) and you can also download some of the classics for free. I’m currently reading Tolstoy’s classic Anna Karenina on my Kindle, which I downloaded free. I’m looking forward to reading other classics from Jane Austen, Jonathan Swift and Charles Dickens. Depending on your book-buying habits and the location of your local library, it might be a worthwhile investment to buy an e-reader such as a Kindle or Nook. The device has the potential to pay for itself in a short time, so be sure to calculate the cost vs. benefit if you are thinking of purchasing one.
If you don’t have a Kindle, Nook or other e-reader device, you can still read eBooks by downloading a free app to your iPad, iPhone, Android, Blackberry, PC or MAC. I’m not convinced that I’d want to read War and Peace on my cell phone, but you can check out these free apps on your device to see if it’s right for you.
Audio Books:
If you are heading out on a road trip or want to lounge poolside with your eyes closed dreaming of other worlds, you may want to consider audio books. You can check out audio books from many libraries and can also download free audiobooks from iTunes. One of the best places I’ve found is Lit2Go from the University of South Florida. To find their free collection on iTunes, go to the iTunes U section and then search for the University of South Florida. Within minutes you can be engrossed in The Count of Monte Cristo or Wuthering Heights.
Other Resources:
Finally, go beyond the obvious in seeking out new books. For example, swap books with friends, check out local secondhand stores (even some libraries have secondhand stores) or visit a coffee shop or café that encourages you to take and leave a book.
Opportunities for free or inexpensive books are everywhere. So as soon as you finish reading this issue of Single! head to your local library, start downloading or raid your BFF’s bookcase and start crossing those books off your reading list!

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