Online Reading Resources

Feature Photo by Amanda Jones on Unsplash

Access with your Local Library Card

All Buncombe County Libraries closed on March 18, 2020 and are closed until further notice. Holds on physical items can’t be placed until the library reopens. All digital services will work as usual. Visit the Virtual Library dashboard for access to NC Digital Library, NC Live, NC Room,, NCKids, and more. Buncombe County Libraries put together a guide to accessing digital resources, as well as information on how to obtain or renew your library card electronically >>> See their post here.

Tip: If you don’t have a Buncombe County Library card, email and ask for a library card.

NC Digital Library’s Big Library Read is running through April 13th. Big Library Read connects readers around the world with the same book at the same time without any waitlists or holds. Borrow Funny, You Don’t Look Autistic to join the book club. Bonuses include book club discussion, author interview and Samsung Galaxy tablet contest for social shares #biglibraryread. Checkout limits have also increased through April.

Audio books are wonderful to enjoy while you are doing other tasks, be it knitting, cleaning, gardening, drawing, or making a puzzle. Listen for free using your library card via NC Digital Library or the Libby App, set up your account via computer or download the App from your preferred source.

Tip: If you have several library cards, Rakuten’s Overdrive and helps you manage your access through their site and the Libby app.

Go for the Classics

One of the oldest online digital ebook repositories is Project Gutenberg. Find everything from British law to botany to early twenty-first century science fiction by women authors in their collection of 60,000 epub and Kindle format books.

Internet Archive’s Open Library is easy to search to find classics across numerous genres. Also includes textbooks.

For Children and Young Readers

In addition to the resources above, also check out the Library of Congress Children’s Book Selections and Audible is offering free streaming children and young adult stories for the duration of school closures.

Teachers, Students and Academics

For students, teachers, research, and the perennial inquisitive, you can find open and free content from JSTOR and Artstor, and the Internet Archive has just launched The National Emergency Library. You also might find just what you are looking for at University of Pennsylvania’s Online Books Page that includes a celebration of women’s writers and a banned book collection with interesting notes–apparently South Africa at one time banned Anna Sewell’s Black Beauty.

NC Live offers resource access through your local library card, and alumni, don’t check out your alma mater as many, like UNCA, may offer online library privileges.

Commercial and Subscription–but with Generous Free Options

Amazon’s Cheap Reads for Kindle: Free Books and Low Priced Reading and if you are an Amazon Prime member, are you taking full advantage of your membership? Members can access loans through Amazon Prime Reading, and also choose one free book from a curated list that is emailed the first of each month.

You can search Google Books and the Google Play Store highlights free books for young readers, but you can also search for ‘free books’ to find both ebooks and audio books.

Rakuten Kobo also features free ebooks and Bookbub offers recommendations for free and discounted books. Sign up and access the full text of their latest blog article that provides links to 28 free online contemporary short stories.

Sign up to Free EBooks to download five free books each month.

Finally, check out Smashwords for free and inexpensive books by authors that are self-publishing.

Bone up on Business

If you are using the stay home time to improve your business, you might find Hubspot’s free ebooks useful, as well as SCORE’s library.

Spiritual Support

Lifeway has made their bible-study curriculum free, the PJ Library offers resources for those of the Jewish faith during quarantine, you can access the free Internet Sacred Text Archive for spiritual scriptures across multiple religions, and here is a link to a small Dropbox collection of pagan PDF writings.


And after the kids have been put to bed, you might want to pour yourself a glass of wine, and download McSweeney’s Adult Self-Quarantined Activity Book to keep yourself amused.