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Hunkered Down For The Pandemic? Here's How To Keep Reading For Free

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Over the past week, as we’ve hunkered down at home, public libraries, book publishers and others have begun offering free services to keep readers reading. And let’s face it: There’s no better time to escape with a good book.

So where can you get these biblio-freebies? Here are a few options:

  • The Wichita Public Library has closed its branches, but you can still access the library’s vast collection of online resources. If you don’t have a library card, go to WichitaLibrary.org for info on how to get an e-card. Besides books, the card gives you access to research your family history or even learn a new language.
  • Penguin Random House Audio is offering free audiobook downloads of three classic children’s titles—“The Wonderful Wizard of Oz,” “Grimm’s Fairy Tales” and “Great Expectations.” To get them, download the free Volumes app, then click on “Listen at Home: Free Downloads.”
  • If you use Spotify, here’s a little-known tip: Open the app, click “browse” on the left-hand navigation bar, then scroll down to “Word,” and you’ll find a wide selection of recordings and audiobooks narrated by famous authors.
  • In the mood for a classic? Project Gutenberg is a library of more than 60,000 free e-books—mostly older literary works—which you can download to your Kindle app or read online. Just go to gutenberg.org.
  • Last but not least, one of my new favorite things: Actor Josh Gad—the voice of Olaf in the “Frozen” movies—has started reading children’s books aloud on Twitter and Instagram. You don’t have to be a kid to appreciate his performances. Just search #GadBookClub, and enjoy.

If there’s any silver lining to the novel coronavirus, it’s that maybe we’ll have time to read more novels. Stay home, stay safe, and cherish those books.

Suzanne Perez is a longtime journalist covering education and general news for KMUW and the Kansas News Service. Suzanne reviews new books for KMUW and is the co-host with Beth Golay of the Books & Whatnot podcast. Follow her on Twitter @SuzPerezICT.