Treating the Quarantine Blues: Where to Read for Free

By Jordan Shaw

It’s been a few weeks since quarantine started, and we’ve all had to make some major adjustments. Many people have begun working remotely, classes have been moved online for students, and we’ve all been instructed to stay indoors in order to “flatten the curve” — or in other words, curb the rate of COVID-19 infection. Working and taking classes from home has been a lot to handle for many people, but the biggest change (in my opinion at least) is the amount of time we must spend in the house. Going out only for essential trips is driving plenty of people stir-crazy. There’s only so much you can do around the house when you can’t invite people over and don’t have access to outside sources of entertainment. However, there are some ways you can temporarily escape the confines of your house by picking up a good book. Here are some resources to help with that:

The Internet Archive has billions of preserved webpages, and even better — millions of free books!

1. The Internet Archive

The Internet Archive is an online source dedicated to archiving the internet itself. It has preserved billions of webpages, as well as millions of audio recordings, videos, and images. In its textual collection, it boasts 20 million preserved books and documents. Included in this collection are 1.3 million modern ebooks that anyone with an account can check out for fourteen days. And the best part about this resource is that an account on the Internet Archive is completely free!

Overdrive allows you to borrow ebooks from your local library, and read them on an app, totally for free.

2. Overdrive

Overdrive is a service you can use to borrow ebooks and audiobooks from your local library. All you need to set it up is a library card. You can search for your library on the main website or access Overdrive ebooks through your library’s site. When selecting something to borrow, you can choose to take it out for 7 days, 10 days, or 14 days, and after the set time period your book will be automatically returned. Overdrive also has a free, user-friendly app called Libby available for Android and iOS devices so you can read on your phone.

LibriVox takes advantage of books that are already in the public domain and turns them into audiobooks. For any audiobook classics, be sure to check LibriVox.

3. LibriVox

LibriVox is your go-to source for audiobooks in the public domain. Books that fall under the public domain are no longer subject to copyright — and LibriVox has taken full advantage of this. On this site, you can find everything from Hamlet to The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. These audiobooks are downloadable, but you can also find them posted in installments on Youtube. If you’re looking for a unique way to pass the time, LibriVox also takes volunteers. This means that you can submit a recording of yourself reading a book to the site, as long as it’s in the public domain.

Scribd is an ebook service that charges monthly, but for now you can join up for a free month without entering any credit card information.

4. Scribd 

Scribd is a service that gives you access to over 1 million modern ebooks. Usually, Scribd costs $9.99 per month after you subscribe. However, in light of the recent global crisis, Scribd has made it optional to include payment information. This grants everyone a free thirty days of access to everything the site has to offer. Scribd also includes plenty of magazines, audiobooks, and even sheet music if you’re interested in learning a new song on an instrument!

These past few weeks have been difficult for everyone, and adjusting to this new normal will take some time. Living in quarantine isn’t easy, but I hope that these resources can make that adjustment a little easier. Stay healthy, and happy reading!

Jordan Shaw is the Long River Review chief copy editor and a poetry panel reader. She can be reached at

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