I love to read. When I am really busy, what I crave the most is to have several hours when I can just sit and read. My husband and I are both book people (maybe because we are Jewish, sometimes called 'the people of the book'?) Whenever we travel to other cities, we look for used/rare book stores to browse in, and used to go home with piles of books we knew we would not have time to read. When we moved from our house into a much smaller apartment, we got rid of close to30 boxes of books, mostly to the public library, some to our Temple library or other places. We still have 12 bookcases full of books, but we try not to buy more unless they are something we really expect to use.
We seldom buy fiction, because those books we would just read once and be done. More often, we would jot down the title and author, and look for the book at the library. Lately we have gone high tech with our reading. We didn't spend $100 bucks for an Amazon Kindle, or other e-reader, which would then require us to buy the books as well (though there are some free books for Kindle, mostly classics). Instead we get our books from the library, for free, and read them on our computers. We both have netbooks, which are smaller and lighter than regular laptops, so we can take them wherever we go.
Our public library is a member of two book consortia, The Ohio E-Book project, and the SEO Consortium. I am sure there are others online, I have not yet explored this. (If anyone knows of any they would like to let me and my readers know about, please post a comment at the end of this post.)
From the comfort of my living room, sitting on my recliner with my kitty between my knees, I can go online, browse for books to read, check them out, and download them to my netbook. The library allows me to check out books for 2 weeks, but the SEO Cons. lets me have them for 3 weeks. After that, they expire, and can no longer be opened. I check them out using my library card, but I think you can also register on your own to use the consortia. Thousands of free books at your fingertips, including new releases, all for free.
There are also multiple formats available. The person who told me about the consortia downloads her books as audiofiles, then she listens to them on her IPod. My husband and I both download our books as e-books, and read them like a book. I like the Mobipocket format, my husband usually uses Adobe reader. On my netbook, I can decide if I want to read in one column or two, how bright the screen is, and what size letters I want. Lots of ways to adjust it to make reading easier. Try doing that with a regular print book.
Check it out (pun intended). Try your local library's website, or look online for options. No need to wear shoes, or even clothing to go to the library these days. You may not find a specific book, but there are plenty of choices. This is a wonderful resource for people who don't feel up to going out, but want to read.