If you follow my blog, you probably know that I like to read, a lot. It’s easily my favourite activity, and definitely the one I’ve been doing the longest. Reading, for me, is the easiest way to learn more, challenge myself, become a more interesting person, grow, understand other people and the world better, and feel like my days are longer and richer. It’s also the simplest, cheapest way I know to do all those things.
That being said, books can be expensive, which is why I think our greatest achievement of human history has been the library. What else in our society do we offer people for free!? I find it nothing short of amazing that the institution of the library has stuck around this long, especially since we now charge money for absolutely everything else. I am so proud that we humans have recognized the power and beauty of books and decided to offer them to anyone, anywhere, for free.
I am also so excited that libraries have moved with us into the digital age. Sure, the idea of a “digital library” seems a bit silly at first, since I guess we could easily make thousands of digital copies and give one to anyone who wants one, but I think somehow that would be bad for the business of books and authors. I personally don’t mind the current digital format of having a few weeks to read a book before it has to go back to the “library”. It feels normal and it makes perfect sense to me: even though it’s a digital file, it’s still a library, and the books are only to borrow.
So for anyone wondering how on earth I manage to read 75 books a year and still pay my bills every month, Overdrive + my library cards are the answer. Overdrive is an app available for iPad, Android, Kindle, and computers that allows you to access the digital collections of your library, for free.
I currently hold two library cards – one in Oakville where I’m from, and one in Montreal where I went to school. Each library has its own digital collection and they choose which new books to buy like at any library, so my two libraries are slightly different in their content. Often one has a book that the other doesn’t, so I’m grateful to still hold both cards at the moment.
Whenever I add a new book to my never-ending to-read list, I check and see if one of my two libraries has it. More often than not, they do, and I either borrow it right away or put it on hold. Getting emails saying I have a book on hold that is ready to be borrowed is like Christmas! I absolutely love it when I’m able to read a book I’d been hearing so much hype about for free. Also, the digital libraries are getting better and better all the time, and it’s exciting to see that they usually have hot new books available if you’re willing to wait a few days. If the library doesn’t have a book, I choose to read something different (there’s always something else to read!), buy it on Amazon, or look for it at a bookstore.
Digital libraries are perfect for me because I live in a foreign country right now and don’t have access to many English books. I usually read on my iPad mini, which I realize is a privilege I am lucky to have. However I will say that before I had my tablet, I used to read the occasional book on my computer (not the most convenient, but it gets the job done!), and I’ve started downloading audiobooks through the app to listen to from my phone when I’m running or otherwise on the go. So there are other ways to access this content if you’re interested but don’t have a device like an iPad or Kindle.
If you love to read as much as I do, Overdrive might change your life the way it changed mine. It’s completely free and very easy to use, and I absolutely love having so much amazing content right at my fingertips. If you’re interested but not sure how to get started, they have an awesome Help section with several informative videos.
By the way if you’re a reader, let’s become friends on Goodreads! I love seeing what other people are reading and what they think of books. Happy reading!