Against All Odds / Guest blogs and bloggers / marketing / writing

How I Afford to be a Whale Reader

An efriend writer originally published this as a guest post on their blog to help me launch Against All Odds August 2020. In case you missed it there, here are my secrets on how to afford an out-of-control reading habit:


Yes, I’m a whale reader. In case you don’t know what that is:

A whale reader is a person who reads 3-7 books a week, every week.

We’re an unusual species but there are more of us around than you’d think. I wrote about my experience as a whale reader here, going into detail on what that is, how I became one, and my favorite whale writers.

I’m often asked how I read so many books. For example, the last few years my Goodreads Reading Challenge has been around 200 books a year. The answer to how I do that is simple: I don’t have a life outside of reading and writing. Where other people do coffee with friends, movies out, and shopping trips, I do none of those. I don’t even do housework–I have a wonderful husby who doesn’t mind doing most of that. I used to be at the beck and bark of my beloved Labrador but now, he sleeps most of the day. As a result, it takes a lot of writing and reading to fill my awake hours.

If you’re interested in becoming a whale reader, the biggest barrier to entry (besides time) is affording all those books. You have to read books that interest you or you won’t be able to get through them. Starting with A in the library won’t work. Here’s how I find lots of books affordably:

The Library

I have an online account at the library. I reserve books I want to read and the library lets me know when they’re available. I have plenty on the list so some are always showing up.

Project Gutenberg 

The web-based Project Gutenberg has a wide assortment of free full-length books but focuses more on older books that have been in print for a while–not the most current books and probably no Indies. There is no fee, no registration. Just search and start reading.

Kindle unlimited

Kindle Unlimited is a lending library available through Amazon for certain Kindle digital books. You pay about $10 a month and can borrow up to 10 books at a time. Once you’ve read the book, you return it to Amazon and can borrow another. My husband forced encouraged me to do this because he tired of the daily charges for $.99-$4.99 for books I then consumed in a few days. He was right (he usually is). The $10 a month is worth it. You access this with your Amazon account.


NetGalley is a reader’s dream in that it offers ARC copies of a huge variety of books, both best sellers and niche. I get a ton of books from NetGalley. I have several publishers who auto-approve any selection I make. Others approve my request before making the digital ebook available. I usually get the books I request because I do my part to promote the authors by publishing reviews on Amazon, Goodreads, and wherever else I can think of.

Shared Books

Some Amazon books can be shared by the owner with others. Though this doesn’t work as well as I had hoped, I do get a handful of these books each year that I love reading.

Do you have any hints I can use for getting more free books?

#amwriting #IndieAuthor

Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy, the Man vs. Nature saga, and the Rowe-Delamagente thrillers. She is also the author/editor of over a hundred books on integrating tech into education, adjunct professor of technology in education, blog webmaster, an Amazon Vine Voice,  a columnist for NEA Today, and a freelance journalist on tech ed topics. Look for her next prehistoric fiction, Laws of Nature, Summer 2021.

83 thoughts on “How I Afford to be a Whale Reader

  1. Pingback: Why I Write Historical Fiction | WordDreams...

  2. Never heard of that term – whale reader. I’m just a fish reader – maybe a salmon- reading about 2 books a week. 😎 I also use Kindle unlimited, the library (for ebooks and hardback), Audibles (so I can read while I’m driving) and I have a few friends who share books with me – we send them to each other media rate. 🐟

    Liked by 1 person

  3. If you join book promotion sites like BargainBooksy and Bookbub, (which is free to do) you can get a list of free and discounted books everyday. WrittenWordMedia has a list of several promo sites (BargainBooksy is one of theirs) you can join those with your preferred genre.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Thank you for sharing!!… I read for relaxation and I do quite a bit of reading, not sure whether I am a whale or a guppy… 🙂 for convenience I have a Kindle 7″ Fire (have a 7″ Paperwhite as backup) and purchase books from Amazon.. haven’t tried the audible yet… 🙂

    Until we meet again…
    May you always be blessed
    with walls for the wind,
    a roof for the rain,
    a warm cup of tea by the fire,
    laughter to cheer you,
    those you love near you,
    and all that your heart might desire.
    (Irish Saying)

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I am not a whale reader like you are, Jacqui, although I also don’t have coffee with friends or even watch TV and movies. I have to make time for my family and work takes up a lot of my time. I do usually read about 100 books in a year. 200 is wonderful.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Time is my limiting factor. I imagine when I don’t have Barbarians things will improve. I have never heard of the term whale reader, but now I know of it I can say I used to be one, and imagine when time is no longer an issue I will be again. And the library used to be my go to for books. Now I have Amazon Prime and I can borrow books through that (not as big a range as Unlimited but still huge).

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I’m not a whale reader, but I do usually read 2 books a week, and those are all out of pocket costs. I’ve been known to pay over $20 for a hardback just because the book sounded good to me, and I have no problem paying $14.99 or more for a Kindle book by one of my auto buy authors. I should probably look into Kindle Unlimited, and check out NetGalley, given all the blog reviews I do. Reading can be an expensive hobby, LOL.
    The one thing I won’t do is audio. I’m just not a fan of listening to books.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. That sounds so great–to read so much and to get the books free. But mostly, to have the beautiful glorious TIME to read. I have a fat stack of books, mostly from the library, some on my kindle (incl. yours!), just waiting for me. And for “some day” to finally arrive.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I remember this post. It had some good information. It’s nice to see it again and be reminded of ways to find books to read without spending a fortune.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Well, you’ve got most of the bases covered. The only other ideas I have is I try not to miss a library sale, when they cull their shelves–I’ve gotten some great books that way. And I hit every yard sale where I see books, too. : )

    Liked by 1 person

  11. You’re a blue whale reader, Jacqui. I’m a mini-whale reader. A dolphin reader? I read about 150 books a year and for the most part, take advantage of kindle unlimited. Time is my biggest challenge. I write or read and as one goes up, the other goes down.

    Liked by 2 people

  12. I used to be a whale reader but I work too much now. I miss it.

    You mentioned all the resources I know of. A lot of people rely on audiobooks. I haven’t joined the craze yet and doubt I ever will. I can’t focus on the voice; I drift off. And I think Audible is pricy. Chirp feels more reasonable to me, though like I said, I don’t listen to audiobooks, so I couldn’t really say for sure.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. I have known people who read 3-4 books a week and I have always been amazed but have also known I have too many other interests. However, I have fairly consistently, at least for the past 35 or 40 years, read an 3-4 books a month or nearly one a week. And I have enough “tagged” books in my tbr pile that I’m not sure I will finish them in this life!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hehee–I know that feeling, that there’s not enough time left in life to do something. Well, Jeff, you are a lot busier than me. A lot of people rely on you. You can’t be reading when they call! I’m fairly cocooned.


    • I’m not sure. It took a lot of Googling to find references to it, but I did. Whale writer is fairly common so I don’t know why the reverse wouldn’t be. I even tried on various search platforms–like Duck Duck Go–and still, not a lot of joy. Here’s one from Urban Dictionary: though I think they overstated it:

      “A reader who consumes annually more books than the rest of the population combined.”

      I’m a rare species.


  14. Dear Jacqui,
    I am a whale reader – strange expression – as well. As I keep a diary of my reading I know that I have read on average a little more than 300 books yearly. As reading has been part of my work, I learned fast reading. I never had a TV, I am not interested in games and so I have enough time outside my life in the books. My partner is a whale reader as well. By the way, I know quite some people who are reading more than 250 books yearly.
    I buy lots of books second hand and got most of the new editions from the publishers (which is one of the few privileges of being an author). Project Gutenberg, Apple Books and Audibel I use as well, but I generally don’t like reading on the screen.
    Klausbernd and the rest of
    The Fab Four of Cley
    🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Messrs. Klausbernd and The Fab Four of Cley I visited your website of photography and other hobbies. What fun you Fab Four do enjoy. I noticed a photo of Bavaria. You must know Germany well. In the spirit of enriching your book whale fun for the year, If you enjoy audiobooks I would like to gift you one of my novel, “Einstein’s Compass a YA Time Traveler Adventure”. The story is an alternate history of how young Albert Einstein came to his theory of relativity. Set in many places in Germany you will know where our hero is at any given moment in time. Send me an email to I am celebrating Albert’s birthday and International PI Day this weekend with $.99 ebook. You can listen to the audiobook and read the ebook at same time. Or just listen to the audiobook. Jacqui Murray has read my novel and has a quote on the back cover. Check it out

      Liked by 2 people

      • Dear Grace,
        Hanne-Dina is Norwegian and our dear Master is German. He knows Germany pretty well as he travelled a lot through Germany for book signigs and lecture tours. And he was interested in Einstein from early age on as his mother was a physicist. He travelled with us to all the places in Switzerland, Germany and the US which were important in Einstein’s life.
        Do you know that Einstein fleeing Germany was thinking of living in Norfolk just a few miles from where we live now? His arrival in Norfolk was top secret but unfortunately the local paper published an article “Einstein has arrived in Norfolk” and so he went on to the US.
        As our dear Master wasn’t only an author (books and film scripts) but also an editor who was a kind of scout for new authors for international publishing houses he is still getting masses of manuscripts and books send. But he is privatising for more than ten years now and doesn’t recommend texts any more to publishers. Sorry.
        All the best and good luck
        The Fab Four of Cley
        🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

        Liked by 2 people

        • Many people know a lot of about the elder Einstein. My novel covers his young life from age six to twenty-six before he became famous. When he was six years old his father gifted him a compass which inspired his vision to know what is time and light. I wanted to inspired young people who may be struggling with life goals like Albert did. The young scientist never gave up his dream even when his professors would not help him get a job after graduation. A young hero’s journey of good and evil who in my story has a supernatural compass that takes him through time.

          Liked by 2 people

  15. The more I learn about you, the more I’m in awe of all that you do each day, Jacqui. I would love to read a post on your typical day and how you manage to do so much during your waking hours. Speaking of, how many hours do you sleep at night?

    Liked by 4 people

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