Making Reading Greener and Cheaper

July 19, 2017

Making Reading Greener and Cheaper

reading greener and cheaper

For me, summer and reading go together like peanut butter and chocolate. There’s something about the long days that make me want to curl up on in a beach chair and read for hours. Unfortunately, there is no beach chair but reading is how I’ve spent much of my free time in June and July. I’ve found that an hour spent reading during Noe’s nap rejuvenates and refreshes me so much more than blogging, writing, cleaning or scrolling my phone ever does.

And there’s just something about summer that makes me want to escape to far off places.

We haven’t really mastered the art of traveling with a toddler so there’s no long summer vacation in our plans but that’s okay because I’ve spent so much time in Nantucket, London, Atlanta through the books I’ve read this summer. Not exactly the same thing but enjoyable nonetheless.

Of course, all this reading has me thinking about how to make reading greener and cheaper and yes, zero waste. I’ve always hated spending money on books and over the years we’ve pared our collection down to just our very favorites, so buying a random book that will then live for eternity on our bookshelf after I’m done with it stresses me out to know end.

My good friends have heard me talk about this for so many years but what I’m sharing below is hands down the best way to read greener and cheaper, or more like for free!

Get a library card!

Yes, you say, big revelation. But this goes so much further than checking out old books from your local library. That’s because you can also use your card to download thousands of ebooks instantly. Here’s how it works.

1: Get a library card.

2: Log into your library’s online site.

3: Start browsing.

reading greener and cheaper

There are so many titles available right now but you can also search specific books and place holds your wish list titles as well. Sometimes it takes forever to get a book, sometimes it comes way sooner than expected.

Here are the books on my current holds list. As you can see, I’m #2 of 3 copies on one and #44 on 9 copies on another. It just depends on the popularity and newness of the book.

reading greener and cheaper

4: Decide what device you want to read on. I read on my Kindle so I download the Kindle version of whatever book I want, see below.

reading greener and cheaper

It then takes me to Amazon where I download the book.

reading greener and cheaper

I sync my Kindle and voila, the book magically appears for my reading pleasure for free. I also have the Kindle app on my phone so I can read my books when I’m out and about too.

5: Most libraries allow for a 21 day checkout, after that time your book will disappear from your device. You can go back and recheck it out, although if there’s a waitlist for it, you’re back at the end of the line.

One trick, which I’m not totally sure works with every device but does with mine, if you turn your wifi off then you can read your book at your own leisure and it won’t disappear until you turn wifi on again.

This only works with my Kindle and not with the Kindle app on my phone.

So there you have it, a few steps and you’re reading for free. No wasted money, no wasted paper yet all the joys of reading your favorite books.

Now, it’s not lost on me that some people still prefer physical books.

If you just can’t get into ebooks, here are a few other ways to still keep reading greener and cheaper:

  • Get a library card! Seriously, they are so easy to get, yet so many people don’t take advantage of their local libraries. In most areas you can fill out forms online then simply come in with an I.D. and have your card in seconds. Stopping into a library, browsing and eventually returning books may seem cumbersome but it really isn’t. You don’t even have to return books inside, they make it so simple. I’m such a huge library fan and we go to story times almost weekly so if you have kids, drop in on a story time then grab yourself a book or two.
  • Neighborhood lending libraries. Denver and Berkeley both have these great little libraries throughout certain neighborhoods where people can drop off used books for others to enjoy. I always peek in on these little “houses” mostly check for children’s books but every once in a while a book will pop up for me too. When we’re done, which sometimes means months later for the children’s books, we return them to the lending libraries for someone else to enjoy.
  • Book swaps. Have a bunch of friends who are avid readers? Organize a swap. Or have a bunch of friends with kid’s? Organize a kid’s book exchange.
  • Second hand stores. I like to have physical books on hand for Noe. Every few months I go to Goodwill and pick up some books for her. They range from 59 to 99 cents and I love that they’re second-hand and getting a second, or maybe third, lease on life. They might not be the year’s most popular books but some of our favorites have come from second-hand stores. Denver also has an amazing children’s bookstore that had a big selection of second-hand books. They were a bit more expensive than Goodwill but we’re still talking $2-3. And you could often find classics and newer books. I’m sure these exists in other areas as well. Goodwill is also great for adult books and popular books from a few years back pop up all the time. They often have great cookbooks too. I never buy used books for myself there because of my Kindle but if you’re partial to physical books this is a great way to get them on the cheap and green.

I’ve yet to get into e-magazines. But, I did hear that if you have an Amazon Prime account you can download magazines straight to your devices. I love the idea of cutting back on the paper we waste on magazines so I’ll probably try this with my O Magazine once the subscription runs out. There are also a bunch of other e-magazine services out there but I haven’t tried any. If you’re an e-magazine reader and use a service, let me know which you like best.

And lastly, here’s a collection of the books I’ve been reading this summer.

Help, Thanks, Wow: The Three Essential Prayers: Not really a beach-y summer read but super fast and an interesting take on prayer.

The Weekenders: A totally easy, beach-y, low investment book that takes place on Nantucket.

The Island House: Another totally mindless and fun beach read for the summer that again takes place on Nantucket which epitomizes summer to me even though I’ve never even been!

A Murder of Magpies: A Novel (Sam Clair)  A murder mystery type book that circles around the publishing industry which was fun to learn about.

Pretty Girls: I almost don’t want to recommend this one because it’s so dark and disturbing. However, I also couldn’t put it down. I read it in 4 days including two nights where I should have been in bed but instead stayed up way, way too late. Like I said, it’s dark though, you’ve been warned.

If you missed my last post on other books I’ve read lately, you can find it here.

So, tell me, what are you reading? What have you loved? What do you recommend? 

I hope this give you some ideas for making reading greener and cheaper. If you have your own tricks, let me know.


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  • Reply Afi July 24, 2017 at 9:35 am

    1. Turn off my wifi and read beyond my 21-day check out?!?! Mind. Blown!!

    2. is an online book swapping site. You get a book credit (which you use to have a book sent to you) for every book you send to someone. List the books you no longer want and send it to someone who requests it. Not exactly zero waste because there is shipping (via media mail so it is cheaper) involved but a great way to get books and get rid of books.

    3. Currently reading The Zookeeper’s Wife. Recommendations from my summer so far are Radium Girls and Gaby, A Girl in Pieces.

    • Reply Lisa July 27, 2017 at 2:59 pm

      Unfortunately I think this may have been a fluke with my very old Kindle. I bought a new one right after this post was published because mine died and turning off the wifi didn’t keep my books, :(. Paperbackswap looks awesome, what a great idea! I keep hearing about the Zookeeper’s Wife, you’ll have to let me know how you like it and thank you for the other recommendations, I’ll check them out. Thanks Afi!

  • Reply Fall Reading: For All You Bookworms - Makings Of November 8, 2017 at 1:24 pm

    […] And if you want more fall reading book recommendations or a reminder on how to make reading cheaper and greener, click here. […]

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