We’ve spent a whole lot of quarantine hours curled up with a good book. Maybe too many hours. If we do any more sitting, our legs are going to atrophy like it’s the Summer of George. But we don’t have to choose between getting lost in a good story and being mobile. Whether we’re riding our stationary bike, going for a walk, or just doing the dishes, we can put on a good audiobook. And there are lots of great ones out there to choose from that don’t cost anything. Here are eight ways you can listen to audiobooks for free.
Whether you’re looking for older or more recent releases, Audible‘s massive audiobook library will most likely have what you’re looking for. And while the subscription service is not free (although Amazon customers do get some perks), you can sign up for a free 30-day trial. (It’s $14.95 per month after that). Single audiobooks can be very expensive, so if there’s one modern book you really want to listen to, make it your first download. And even if you’ve already used up your free month, Audible recently made hundreds of audiobooks free for everyone.
Librivox is a “non-commercial, non-profit, and ad-free project” where volunteers record audiobooks for works already in the public domain. They are then uploaded to the web in the public domain for free. Not only can anyone listen to them gratis, you can use the recording however you like. That’s an especially useful bonus for any teachers currently teaching their students online.
Overdrive is a free service that works in conjunction with over 30,000 libraries and countless schools around the country. It “lets you borrow digital content (like ebooks and audiobooks) anytime, anywhere.” With its Libby app, you sign into your local library and “borrow” books and audiobook. You can then have available on your mobile device to listen to. It’s easy, convenient, and there are tons of options.
What’s great about that Lit2Go is it can be used by anyone looking for audiobooks. But this free online collection of stories and poems in Mp3 format could be exactly what literature teachers (or parents now trying to fill that role themselves) are looking for. The website provides a whole lot more than just audiobooks. From Lit2Go: “An abstract, citation, playing time, and word count are given for each of the passages. Many of the passages also have a related reading strategy identified. Each reading passage can also be downloaded as a PDF and printed for use as a read-along or as supplemental reading material for your classroom.” And everything is broken down by author, books, genre, collections, and readability, so you can find what you want for any age group.
Even if you only opt for the free version of Spotify, the digital media site’s diverse list of available audiobooks includes the “latest releases to much-loved classics.” Spotify provides an audiobook category to search through, but you can also dig around for something specific. There are also lots of audiobook playlists put together in user-made albums. Book Riot‘s tutorial is a great resource for how to maximize the site’s audiobook options.
Throughout quarantine, we’ve been downloading sci-fi, fantasy, horror, and mystery books from Project Gutenberg. But the free site’s options also extends to audiobooks. It provides two types: audiobooks read by humans and audiobooks read by computers. The latter’s generated voices can be a little strange, but we know there’s an audience for it. (Especially with the right book.) Which is why no matter how weird it might sound to some, it’s a great resource for others.
YouTube is full of audiobooks, and they are easy to search for. You can try and find specific books (many coming with different readers so you can find a voice you like). And there are entire channels dedicated to providing free audiobooks, including Audio Books, Priceless Audiobooks, and Greatest AudioBooks. LibriVox also maintains its own feed. It’s also where you can find modern authors reading their own works, like Neil Gaiman reading his kid’s horror book The Graveyard Book.
If you’re struggling to find what you’re looking for you can turn to Open Culture. The site has hundreds of free audio books, including “works of fiction, poetry and non-fiction, by such authors as Twain, Tolstoy, Hemingway, Orwell, Vonnegut, Nietzsche, Austen, Shakespeare, Asimov, HG Wells and more” for you to download. But more importantly, it also features a collection of other collections, so you can find free audiobooks available all over the web, even from other sites. As a bonus. it also provides tutorials on how to download and listen to audiobooks, books for kids, free online college courses, and more.
The only thing it doesn’t have is a workout routine for us to do while listening to a great book. We should probably use these sites to find a free exercise audiobook.
Mikey Walsh is a staff writer at Nerdist. You can follow him on Twitter at @burgermike, and also anywhere someone is ranking the Targaryen kings.
Featured Image: Disney