The Power of Books and How You Can Read for Free!

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My Alma mater was books, a good library…. I could spend the rest of my life reading, just satisfying my curiosity.”

-Malcolm X

Learning How to Read

I almost failed first or second grade because I was reading on a level below my peers.  When my mom found out, there was no way she would let her son fail. Every evening after school she would force me to read an article of her choosing.  After reading the article, my assignment was to summarize it.  The next step would involve her quizzing me on what the article meant and some of its vocabulary words. “What does this word mean, young man!?” she would ask. If my answer was not satisfactory, I would be given a spanking.   Although some of you may disagree with her pedagogical methods, it produced results! I ended up advancing to the next grade.


When I returned to school the following year, I was reading five grade levels ahead of my peers.  Although learning to read had been a struggle, my mom’s unwavering faith in my ability to learn helped me conquer this mountain of mine.  With my new found power of reading, I would go on to learn exciting facts about ancient cultures, science, psychology, etc.  My standardized test scores improved tremendously.  After graduating from elementary school, I got accepted into a magnet program because of my high test scores! Learning to read helped me to succeed then and now.  If you are reading this, thanks Mom!

Thirst for Knowledge Continues

My mom is to blame for my insatiable desire to acquire knowledge that exists today.  I can recall reading a quote from Malcolm X that describes how I feel about books perfectly.  Although Malcolm X never went to school beyond the 8th grader, reporters would ask him what his Alma mater was.  “My Alma mater was books, a good library…. I could spend the rest of my life reading, just satisfying my curiosity” would be his reply.

A Gifted Orator

Whether you agree or disagree with Malcolm X’s political belief, you cannot deny the fact he had a peerless command of the English language.  He was a sought after speaker at Universities including Harvard and Oxford.  While serving a ten year prison sentence, Malcolm stumbled upon a “homemade” education.  He would end up copying the entire dictionary on a tablet!  After learning this, I was inspired to duplicate this somewhat  when I purchased The Verbal Advantage!

The Verbal Advantage

The Verbal Advantage is a vocabulary book that promises to teach a vocabulary that is share by “only the top percentage of Americans.”  Definitely a bold marketing claim but the book is an incredible read.  I loved it so much that I created a flash card for each word.  When my friends and I were on winter break during my junior year, we stayed at a hotel street on Canal Street in New Orleans, La.  I remember carrying them around and my friends asking what the hell I was doing.  Trying to become a wordsmith, of course!  You can improve your vocabulary by buying this book from Amazon for $3.71 or read on to discover how you can read it for free!

How You Can Read for Free

If I purchased every single book I was interested in, I would definitely be a member of Broke Phi Broke forever.  That is why I read most of my books for “free” at the library.  It is not truly free since most libraries I know are built with taxpayer dollars.  In 2016, taxpayers voted to support the library in my hometown of Baton Rouge, La for another decade.  While I am not exactly sure how other library systems work, at my system you can check out 50 books at a time and that does not include digital books!  For digital books, we use a widely known platform called Overdrive.


OverDrive is a platform most library systems use to allow you to check out digital copies of books.  In my library system, you are allowed to checkout up to 15 e-books at once.  Below is a list of books I currently have checked out!  If a book you want is not listed, I will show you how to recommended your library purchase a copy.  Rise and Grind is a book I had to recommend.

How to Recommend a Book on Overdrive

When you search for a book on OverDrive and you don’t see it, you can recommend that your library purchase it.  Let’s walk through an example by searching for Cait Flander’s book The Year of Less.

1st Step

Cait Flander’s book is not available in my library’s OverDrive catalog so I chose Recommend to Library on the left side of the screen

2nd Step

Hit recommend again under the format you want.  I recommended the Ebooks because I find most audio books boring to listen to.

3rd Step

Enter your library card number is the text box provided!


4th Step

Hit recommend one last time and sit back and wait for your library to purchase the book!  My library system purchased the book after a few days.  After reading Rise and Grind by Daymond John, I may do a book review so be sure to comeback for that!

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Author: Jerry

Jerry is a Business Insider Contributing Writer who is obsessed with personal finance. He believes you can improve your financial situation by applying principles taught by the financial independence community to your financial life.

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24 thoughts on “The Power of Books and How You Can Read for Free!

  1. On a related note. My wife and I Iove to do puzzles. We learned that instead of buying new puzzles all the time, our library has a puzzle swap, bring one – take one. It works out well.

    1. Thanks for dropping by, Othala! Wow, that sounds like a lot of fun. My first time hearing about a library offering that as a benefit. I’ll have to see if my library system offers something similar.

    1. Thanks for dropping by Mrs. Adventure Rich! Yes, I forgot to mention the extensive movie collection. Here in Baton Rouge our library allows you to check out 15 DVDS at a time for 7 days.

  2. Wow – you can check out 50 books at a time?
    One of the perks of my job is access to the state university library system. I don’t think I can borrow 50 books at a time but the standard check out period is something like 90 days.
    I’ll be taking a look at Rise and Grind.

  3. Okay – I’m a huge fan of my library and have been using Overdrive for a few years, but I had no idea you could recommend books for the library to buy through Overdrive. That is awesome!
    P.S. On an unrelated note, my library also has a “library” of cake pans that you can check out. As an avid baker, I think this is pretty cool too.

    1. Hey, Kait! Stop for gracing my blog with your presence! Yes, I am still waiting on them to purchase The Year of Less.

      Wow, my first time hearing about a blog that lent out cake pans. How long can you check them out for?

  4. I love the library! We check out books, movies, and audio books (usually check out audio books if we’re going on a long drive). Our library also has magazines and even a seed library. Although I have a Kindle and use it when I travel, I prefer the feel of a real book when I’m at home. Thanks for highlighting “The Verbal Advantage” – I’m going to request that one!

    1. Thanks for stopping by and sharing the article on Twitter! Always nice to meet a fellow library lover.
      My first time hearing about a seed library. How does that work?
      You are welcome. Let me know what you think about it!

      Do you have any book recommendations?

  5. In middle school and high school, I went to the local public library at least once a week. I always had at least one book checked out – probably more in reality. I often read books that were intended for an older audience than me – both in subject maturity and complexity.

      1. I read mostly (if not solely) science fiction and fantasy. One book in particular I remember was called “The Iron Dragon’s Daughter.” – This was probably in sixth grade – so actually a year before I went to the middle school – and I remember there were strong sexual themes. Another one was “West of Eden” – – which was an odd book involving primitive man and a more-evolved humanoid reptile specie.

        Currently I’m reading “Husband Coached Childbirth” since my wife is due soon, and a pdf I found of “The Richest Man in Babylon.”

  6. Hello Jerry, my area of interest is reading books, but purchasing every book of my interest is not possible. I usually prefer Kindle for reading books. Thanks for sharing your blog, now I will also add books in my kindle library. Keep posting.

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