Resources for Free Reading Material During Quarantine [Updated: 3/31]

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Obviously, a global pandemic has always been a threat, but COVID-19 seems to have just caught everyone off-guard with how terrible it’s been. It’s scary, and people are struggling with being laid-off or losing their jobs, being quarantined, having to homeschool their children and deal with so many other stressful situations right now.

One of the ways I’ve been dealing with anxiety is through binge-reading. I wanted to put together this list of resources to help you guys find some books and magazines to get your mind off of things.

If you know of any other apps or websites that I haven’t listed, please let me know in the comments or email me at readyourselfhappy@gmail.com so that I can add them to this list.


Your Local Library

While a lot of libraries are closing their doors to their physical collections, many are still offering all of their digital resources. Libraries differ between branches but check the website of your local library to see what resources they provide. My area’s library offers free online access to tons of magazines, the New York Times, and language learning programs.


Overdrive/Libby & Hoopla

If you have a library card, you have access to a ton of ebooks, audiobooks, comic books, movies, music, and tv shows through these two apps. They’re absolutely free and you just log in using your library card information.


Publishers Weekly

Publishers Weekly has temporarily opened up their digital issues to everyone. Out of all these resources, this is probably the one that I’ll be taking the advantage of the most since I’ve always wanted a subscription to Publishers Weekly but can’t afford it on my budget.


Scribd

Scribd is letting people sign up and have access to all of their ebooks, audiobooks, sheet music, and more for 30 days. Scribd is a great resource that I personally use every single day, so if you’re not already a subscriber, definitely take them up on this!


Tor.com

Tor.com is a publishing house that offers tons of short stories on their website. Here’s a link to all of their available fiction. Tor.com is one of my favorite publishers and they put out some amazing science fiction stories.


Podcasts

If you want stuff to listen to, podcasts are a great free resource. There are a ton of different ways to find and subscribe to them, such as through Spotify, the Apple Podcast App (or any podcast app for that matter), iTunes, and Scribd are examples. There are tons of podcasts for every taste. My personal favorite right now is Working Classless.


Project Gutenberg, Open Library, & Internet Archive

These are three great resources for reading classic literature or any books that are in the public domain, and they’re all entirely free.


Audible

Amazon’s Audible is offering some content for free. All of the content is hand-picked for children ages 0-18.


Neil Gaiman

One of my favorite authors, Neil Gaiman, is offering a ton of free content on his website, such as short stories, essays, audio content, and more.


StorylineOnline

This YouTube channel features a ton of videos of celebrities reading children’s stories. It’s the perfect way to entertain your kids while school is closed.


Goodnight with Dolly

Starting April 2nd, Dolly Parton is going to be reading bedtime stories via YouTube as part of her Imagination Library.


Kirkus

For book news and reviews, you’ve probably heard of Kirkus. They have made of all their digital issues free.



I’m sure that I’m missing a lot of resources, but I wanted to get this list out as quickly as I could. As I come across new resources or hear about them from you guys, I’ll update this post.

Again, I hope all of you are taking care of yourselves. Hang in there. We’re all in this together.




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Linwood Barclay, Laurie Gwen Shapiro, & Amanda Stern – Kindle Daily Deals, 11/19/19

Kindle Daily Deals

Every day Amazon has incredible ebook deals, and here are twenty-five of the best for today.

All of these ebooks are under $5, and most of them are under $3. If you see something you want, snatch it up – many of these deals are one day only.

Don’t have a Kindle? There are a ton of models available at a variety of prices.

I am an Amazon Affiliate, which means that anything you purchase through the links provided below helps to keep Read Yourself Happy running, at no additional cost to you.



Have you read any of these books? If so, let me know what you thought of them in the comments!




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The Ultimate Guide to Kindle Unlimited

The Ultimate Guide to Kindle Unlimited
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Is Kindle Unlimited worth it?

To many people, Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited is a great ebook subscription service. For $9.99 per month, you can read as many Kindle Unlimited ebooks as you wish, and there are thousands of options available. (psst… to get a free month of Kindle Unlimited, head to the bottom of the article!)

I’ve subscribed to Kindle Unlimited on and off for several years. I’ll subscribe for a few months at a time to read titles on my TBR that are offered through the service, and then cancel for a few months when there’s nothing I want to read right then.

I’ve seen a lot of people asking about Kindle Unlimited on Twitter and on other social media sites, so I wanted to put together a guide to teach you all of the ins and outs of using the service. If you have any tips or advice not featured here, let me know in the comments!


How does Kindle Unlimited Work?

Kindle Unlimited is a subscription service, just like Netflix or Spotify. For $9.99 per month (or thirty days), you get access to all of the ebooks that are part of this service. While not every Kindle ebook that Amazon offers is part of the Kindle Unlimited service, there are some really great titles available, such as the Harry Potter series, several books by Charlie N. Holmberg, classics such as Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Taleand newer releases like Victoria Lee’s The Fever King.


Do I need a Kindle to subscribe?

Nope! If you don’t have an Amazon Kindle (although they’re amazing and I highly recommend you getting one!), you can download Amazon’s Kindle apps for Android, iPhone, or your computer.


How many ebooks can I have downloaded at one time?

You can have up to ten titles downloaded to your device at one time. If you’ve reached the limit and there’s something else that you want to download, you can return the title and download something new immediately.

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Are there any options aside from ebooks?

Absolutely! You also get access to certain magazines and audiobooks!

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How can I find Kindle Unlimited titles?

There are actually a few different ways that you can do this.

First, you can head to the Kindle Unlimited page, and you’ll see titles recommended for you from your buying and browsing history.

Second, you can browse through their entire ebook selection and use the Kindle Unlimited filter.

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Third, you can search for a title you’re interested in, and you’ll see an option for Kindle Unlimited if it’s available.

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Is Kindle Unlimited international?

Yes and no. All of the links included in this article are for the US version of Amazon, but if you live in the UK, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, India, China, Japan, Brazil, Mexico, Canada, and Australia you will also be able to sign up for the service through your country’s Amazon marketplace.


Is it easy to cancel Kindle Unlimited?

Thankfully, it is. I’m sure I’m not the only person who becomes furious at companies that make you jump through hoops to cancel their service.

In order to cancel Kindle Unlimited, you first need to go to your Memberships & Subscriptions page, and then choose Kindle Unlimited.

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Next, you’ll be taken to the page where you can manage your subscription and titles, and you’ll also see a couple of boxes on the left that looks like this (I’ve erased my personal information):
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How do I get started?

If Kindle Unlimited sounds like something you’d be interested, here’s my affiliate link to get you started, which comes with your first month free. By purchasing a subscription through the link I receive a small commission at no cost to you. Just click on the link here!



Do you use Kindle Unlimited? What do you think of it? Let me know in the comments!




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What is DRM-Protected Media, and Why You Should Care

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E-readers have become commonplace, and most bookworms have a Kindle or Nook that they carry around with them. Most of your ebooks have DRM protection, something that most people don’t think about much. What does it mean for your ebooks that they are DRM-protected? Why should you care about it at all?

Recently, Microsoft has been in the news for getting rid of all of their ebooks, which means that anyone who purchased or downloaded those ebooks will no longer have access to them.

Think about all of the books you have downloaded to your Kindle – and then imagine turning it on one day and finding your cloud empty of books. Terrifying, right?

While that is an unlikely scenario, it theoretically could happen.

When you purchase digital content, such as ebooks or movies, you don’t actually own that content. What you purchased is a license to use that digital media, and that license could be revoked by the company who owns it.

Since I received my Amazon Kindle as a gift nearly five or six years ago (I can’t remember for sure), I’ve purchased nearly 500 ebooks, most of them when they were on sale through Amazon Daily Kindle Deals. The thought of losing those upsets me, but fortunately, for a company like Amazon, I’m not overly concerned about it.

Learning about DRM-protected media, however, has changed the way I use digital media. How? First of all, when it comes to books I either already know I love or strongly suspect that I’ll love and will want to read over and over again, I save my money and purchase the physical copy. That way I know the copy I own is truly mine and I won’t have to worry about Amazon losing the license for it.

Nowadays, I only purchase ebooks when they’re ridiculously cheap and they’re books that I don’t care if I own a physical copy. I also try to get free ebooks when I can, such as through Overdrive/Hoopla, Amazon Prime Reads or Unlimited, or through Netgalley. I definitely don’t spend as much money as I used to on ebooks for fear that one day they could disappear from my device.

I still love ebooks, and make frequent use of Amazon’s Kindle ebook deals, but it’s good to understand what DRM protected media means for you. Don’t stop enjoying your ebooks, just know what could theoretically happen, just in case.




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Print Books vs Ebooks – My Perspective

The most common debate in the bookish community seems to be print books versus digital books. Everyone has a strong opinion one way or the other, even if they use both methods of reading.

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Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

Earlier today, I read an article from Lifehacker entitled, “You Don’t Own the Music, Movies, or Ebooks You ‘Buy’ on Amazon or iTunes.” To summarize the article quickly: if you purchase an ebook or other digital product from a company like Amazon or Apple, that product can be snatched away from you if the company loses their licensing rights on that product.

I had no idea that could happen, and it immediately got me upset. I have over 300 digital books on my Kindle, most of which I got through Kindle deals. I hate the idea of a book being removed from my device just because Amazon lost its license for it, especially if I paid full price for that item.

Now, this isn’t something that happens often, but the fact that it can happen should bring on conversations about physical and digital ownership of products.

Personally, I prefer the feel and weight of physical books, and if I really love a book and know that I’ll end up reading it more than once, I’ll purchase it. There are so many aspects of print books that make them superior to digital:

  • Book design. Every time a book is published, there is so much effort that goes into every aspect of how that book will look; from the cover art, to typography, to the color of the edge of the page, to the dust jacket, and more. Books with illustrations and photographs are particularly frustrating; they rarely look anything but misaligned and out-of-place in a digital edition. When you read a digital book, you can obviously see the cover, but you miss out on everything else.
  • Easier referencing and annotation. I must go through a thousand sticky notes a year. Every book I read, I fill with annotations and notes to myself. I know most e-readers have some sort of highlighting or note feature, but it’s much harder to use. Unless I’m specifically searching for something in an ebook that I need to reference, I’m going to forget to go back to all of those other highlights and notes that I’ve made. It’s just not as easy as seeing a sticky tab and opening the book to that page.
  • You choose your cover art. One of the things I absolutely loathe about my Amazon Kindle digital purchases is that Amazon frequently changes the cover art. My biggest pet peeve in the publishing world are books with film-based covers. It feels cheap. I can’t tell you how many ebooks I’ve purchased with lovely covers, only to notice a few weeks later that the cover is a picture of Matt Damon or some other actor. With a print book, you choose the cover and edition you want, and it never changes.
  • Print books are conversation starters. This one may seem silly, but I’m immensely nosy and love seeing what other people are reading. Asking someone about the book they’re reading is a great way to make new bookish friends. Every time I’m reading in a public place and a stranger walks up to me to ask me about the book in my hands, I get so excited and usually end up talking their ears off. When your face is buried behind an ebook case, however, no one can tell that you’re reading some marvelous book.
  • Physical books won’t keep you up at night. A lot of research has been done on the effects that light from digital devices has on your sleep quality. Reducing screen time is good for everyone, and something to keep in mind if you read a lot of digital books.

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    Photo by awar jahfar on Unsplash

I have an obvious bias of which I’m very aware. Don’t get me wrong though; e-readers are incredibly useful. Here are some circumstances where it’s actually preferable to use your Kindle or Nook:

  • Travel. Last year I went to Chicago for a week to see Thia, one of my favorite people in the whole world. During the course of a week, I can usually finish anywhere from three to six books, depending on their lengths. The idea of packing six books with me and carrying them through airport security just sounded awful, and I didn’t want to deal with the extra weight. Instead, I downloaded about twenty books to my Kindle so that I could choose what I wanted to read based on my mood that day. E-readers make traveling with books so simple, and for that reason alone I think it’s a good idea for everyone to invest in one.
  • Reading at night or when the power’s out. Okay, this is a silly one, but it’s important to me. I often find myself reading in the dark. Sometimes it’s while I’m in bed (yes, even if it is terrible for my sleep quality), or if I’m using public transportation at night, or just wanting to sit under the stars to read. With an e-reader, you don’t need to carry candles or lanterns with you. You just turn it on. My late-night reading has gotten so much easier since I was given my Kindle.

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    Photo by reza hasannia on Unsplash
  • Cheap or free books. I think this is the one that hooks a lot of people. Especially on Amazon, you have access to thousands, literally thousands, of free to super-cheap books. Every day, Amazon offers rotating daily deals, alongside monthly deals, and books you can read through their monthly subscription service, Kindle Unlimited. I would wager that at least 80% of the digital books that I own, I got at a very steep discount. Everyone loves a good deal, especially bookworms.

At the end of the day, everyone’s reading preferences are different, and you should stick to what works best for you. I think, for most people, relying on a combination of print and digital books is the way to go. What are your opinions on the topic? Share your thoughts below.




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