Hi there book lovers! Or friends of book lovers. Or friends of public libraries.
You already know that you love books and all stuff literary. But you know you would love it even MORE if these things were free or cheap (unless you’re an author or publisher…you probably like a paycheck). Luckily, book-related freebies and events have always been a great, budget-friendly way to optimize on your reading hobby. It’s just a matter of exploring all the opportunities out there!
Book-lover on a budget? Check out these ideas for pursuing your passion without dropping big bucks:
1. Visit your library
That’s right – the most obvious option takes the number one spot. Libraries already have the reputation as the go-to spot for free books but that doesn’t mean they’re not still the greatest source for literary fun (to any non-believers, library fun totally exists and is completely amazing). They have books, of course, but they also are hubs for literary events and info. Many host authors, hold community reading events, and put on periodic book sales where they sell the books that are being taken out of circulation. A sea of discounted books to sort through? Absolutely magical.
2. Download free/cheap ebooks
Take advantage of free ebooks through online sites offering the classics (such as gutenburg.org) or via your local library’s online ebook checkout system (another reason libraries are awesome). The really nice thing about library e-lending is that you can log in from anywhere and browse the online selection. That means you could be living in China and pop onto the San Francisco library site to check out books on your Kindle or computer. Trust me – I’ve done it! Getting a library card before you hit the road is a great way to stay entertained during long flights or drives.
3. Bookstore book readings/signings
Bookstores are another great resource for interacting with authors or attending book readings. Most bookstores have a bulletin board or website calendar that lists upcoming events but if you don’t see one – just ask! Sometimes smaller shops have a less organized event list but still feature great opportunities and experiences.
For a large scale calendar that covers events all over the US, check out the Poets&Writers site, which has a nifty list of events to get you started.
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4. Mark the date for literary festivals
In San Francisco, there’s an epically awesome literary festival called Litquake. It’s a huge literary event that sprawls out in the city’s bookstores and cafes. Over two weeks, it hosts authors, readings, and workshops. While some events come in at a cost, others are completely free. Depending on your location, you might be within reasonable distance of a great literary festival that offers more than a few literary themed opportunities. Start scoping out the prospects! In San Francisco, we have a site called FunCheap SF which maintains a running list of free and cheap literary events. A quick Google search might turn up a similarly awesome site for an area close to you!
5. Join a book club or writing group
Your community is a great way for you to interact with others who share similar interests in reading. Check out sites like meetup.com for book clubs or book themed events or ask your local book seller if they host reading groups. Most groups are free (or with a low membership fee) and offer the opportunity to expose yourself to new people groups of interest. Different meet ups yield different results each time, so it’s a great way to shake up the way you read and interpret.
6. Follow book blogs
Blogs are a fun and creative resource for book lovers. While they don’t follow the traditional paper-binding kind of literature, there are wonderfully talented people out there crafting great stories and essays… and then putting them up online! If you have a specific interest in addition to reading – there’s probably a blog for that. For example, Paper and Salt combines food and literature into a seriously inspiring combo. For another interesting look at the craft of reading, writing, and mindfulness check out Brainpickings. The Paris Review is online for free now. The list goes on! Pick and choose your favorites and have fun exploring the creativity that abounds in the internet.
7. Get books in exchange for reviews
Some sites offer free books in exchange for online reviews. You get to read something new, and share it? Pretty cool. Be warned, many are in the realm of vampires and bodice-ripping. If that’s not your thing, you can still find other genre gems if you take the time to sort through carefully. A great place to get started is via GoodReads. Their “First Reads” giveaways offer a sweepstakes like review system. Since it’s an entry based giveaway, you’re not guaranteed a winning prize but it’s still worth the easy sign-up if you’re interested in reading and reviewing.
8. Interact with online reading communities
Speaking of GoodReads, it’s a great online community for book readers and writers alike. As a hub for book reviews and literary news, you can often uncover some great leads on newly released novels and tips on speaker events or webinars. It’s also a great place to keep track of everything that you’ve read and to create a “reading profile” which is pretty much a badge of reading honor.
9. For the proactive… write to your favorite burgeoning author
This is free (unless you mail direct, which in that case… include the cost of a stamp) and also just a nice, fun thing to do. Use your sleuthing skills to hunt down contact info for a new author or writer that you really liked. Then tell them how much you liked their writing. Appreciating literature is one way to feel more involved. Plus you’ll feel good about it – and they will too.
10. If all else fails, host your own book-related event
There’s no reason why you can’t be the own source of your free literary experience. Part of the beauty of reading is tapping into your brain and your imagination. Put on your own literary salon (those still exist!) or set aside some time to chat about a book with a friend. Sharing and admiring creativity is one way to inspire and expound on your own creativity. Who knows, maybe you’ll be the next featured free and wonderful literary event on the list!
Image Credit: AZ