This post will highlight one of my favorite frugal hobbies – reading. I’ll highlight my take on why reading is essential and share six tips to read countless books for free.

Reading is great because, for a few dollars, you’re able to get hours and hours of entertainment. Depending on the book, you might even take away valuable life lessons.

If you’re not one to spend money on books, there are a lot of other options available to you.

If you’re concerned your book budget will weigh you down, here a few tips I’ve used to cut back on my reading expenses:

1) Free audiobooks from audible or on youtube. Many people can’t handle audiobooks because they read too slow, but you can actually play a video from youtube and increase the speed to 1.5x, 2x, or sometimes even 3x the speed.

2) Buy used books for a dollar. If you’ve seen my latest book review of Smart Women Finish Rich, you might have noticed the cover photo of that article contains the price tag. From $14.99 to $7.99 to $2.00. Many of the books I physically were purchased for a $1.00 or less.

3) Grab a coffee at a bookstore and read for 4-5 hours. I used to do this all the time after summer classes in college. I even would buy tea because it was cheaper for $1.50-$2.50 and relax for 5 or 6 hours.

4) Amazon. Often, you can find a book for $0.01 and the only price you need to pay is the shipping and handling. The cost will end up at around $4.00, but for 3+ hours of reading, I find it to be a great deal.

5) Borrow and lend books. Let’s be honest, once you read a book, it unlikely that you’ll re-read.  I have a list of books I try to reread every year or so, but even those books I’ve given away. I sometimes find myself learning more about a book when I hand it to someone else to read. I find the conversation we have about the topics might result in a deeper level understanding of the topics.

6) Public library. These still exist.

Personally, I was never a reader growing up. I never took away any value from books because I didn’t see a clear path between my own life  experiences and the experiences I was learning from other people’s lives.

As time went on, I began to connect more with other stories. Near the end of high school and at the start of college, I dove deep into history and, specifically, the recounts of soldiers during war. Everyone is drawn to different types of books, but these specific texts fascinated me.. I wanted to know more about what went on in the mind of a warrior while miles away from home.

There’s an old saying; you’re the average of the 5 people you hang around with the most AND the books that you read.



Most people leave out the last part when they recite the quote. I find it makes sense. I might spend more time in a single book than I do talking with a very close friend over the course of an entire year.

When I read Snowball, a biography of Warren Buffett, by Alice Schroeder, for example, that easily consumed 40 hours of actual reading time. That is A LOT of time diving into the decision making process of one man. I probably spent just as much time since then discussing the book with other people or thinking through some of the same topics in my own mind.

I fell out of reading for a few years because of my time in public accounting. Not only was I working 70-80 hour weeks, but I was also studying to pass my CPA exams. There wasn’t much time for reading, or ANY hobbies. (insert sad accountant picture)

This is one of the reason I love to swim, bike, & run for triathlons is because I can listen to an iPod filled with audiobooks while training.

And, yes, they do make waterproof iPods/headphones!

I love to combine activities, such as another habit I picked up earlier this year where I iron my clothes while going through 2-3 hours of an audiobook.

Lastly, I’ll mention I find two types of readers.


The first type are people who dive deep into books and explore any topics that they want to learn more about. This is me.

I’m not sure other people would refer to the second type as readers, but I do. For me, a reader, is someone who is searching for knowledge from other people.

The second type are people who prefer to discuss ideas with expert people they know and trust. I wish this was me, but frankly, I don’t know many hyper successful millionaires with a great family life and who do fun activities on the side… So, I read about them from books or blogs instead.

I’ll never have a face to face conversation  with Charlie Munger. Lucky for me, he’s already spent countless hours writing, rewriting, and distilling down his personal best pieces of personal knowledge and advice. AND THEN, he invited a group of skilled editors to refine it even more. After ALL THAT TIME, I can sit in the comfort of my home and absorb the lessons at my OWN, turtle-like pace, by reading the only book he’s ever published. That’s why I LOVE reading!

Would you consider yourself the first type or second type of reader? Are you an avid book collector? Do you hate audiobooks because they’re too slow but now you might reconsider after learning you can speed them up? Know any other tips on how to read books for free?

-Matt
Master Distiller

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