April 13, 2020
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4 free and affordable ways to find something to read during quarantine

Even as the COVID-19 outbreak keeps us at home, there are ways to access books that are easy on the wallet.

You can't peruse the stacks right now, but there's a whole world of books available online for low to no cost. Photo via Erol Ahmed/Unsplash

You’re stuck inside, budgets are tight, libraries are closed, and boredom is setting in. We’ve recommended a variety of books for both kids and adults, but for so many of us, our circumstances have changed. Books might be harder to access or more difficult to afford. That’s why we’ve compiled a list of resources to help you access books for minimal costs and beat the quarantine blues.

Listen to an audio book

Listening to stories is a great way to get your reading in while you cook meals and do other chores. It can also bring a whole family together as you listen and experience a book together. Audible Stories offers many free audio books for children and family listeners, such as classics like Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Anne of Green Gables. Bonus? These titles are available in six different languages.

Penguin Random House Audio is offering free downloads of certain classic stories until April 30. Spotify also offers a number of free audio books, including classics like Pride and Prejudice and Slaughterhouse-Five. Librivox has many free audio books to choose from, but you can also take a turn as the narrator. Warm up your pipes and volunteer to read a book for the site, no experience required.

Embrace an Ebook

Perhaps you’re hoping for you reading to bring you some peace and quiet. Thankfully, Ebooks are also an option. Project Gutenberg has 60,000 free books available. The nonprofit organization has titles available in a multitude of different languages—no special app required. FreeBooksy is exactly what it says—a website that posts a daily selection of free books available for download, offering up different genres each day.

Support your library

Here at The Renewal Project, we love libraries. While your local library’s physical location is probably closed, there’s still a way to put that library card to use. Sites like Overdrive and Hoopla Digital use your library card to access a database of audio books and Ebooks, as well as other forms of entertainment such as movies and music. Your local library might also have its own database and online portal available for you to peruse, so check them out and start reading.

“Pick up” a physical book

Maybe reading just isn’t the same to you and your family without the familiar feeling (and intoxicating smell) of paper. Nonprofit First Book is working on delivering 8 million books to children in need during the coronavirus crisis. Reading is Fundamental is another nonprofit that is working to get books to children who are in quarantine.

If you are able to afford some books, consider supporting local and independent bookstores using sites like Bookshop and Indiebound. The money spent on reading materials from these sites goes back into communities across the country.

Caitlin Fairchild

Caitlin Fairchild is the Deputy Editor of The Renewal Project