How to Read My Books Gratis without Impoverishing Me

My books at the LAPL

I get it: no one wants to spend money they don’t have to, especially not on matters such as literature, which can only transform your soul…or give you a rollicking good time with no hangover!

The essence of literature is ultimately immaterial, of course: something that occurred in my mind can be echoed in yours through the medium of words–and, therein lies the rub, Bub. Words, even if not written down, are still manifestations of the material world, and require material support. You can bet that old blind Homer, reciting in the open air from memory to crowds of eager Greeks, didn’t work for free. You had at least to stand him lunch and a cup of wine.

Now I do stand up in front of my peers now and then to recite my tales, mostly in an effort to inspire them to buy books by squawking out a chapter or two. But no one’s going to sit on a folding chair for the time it takes to recount a three-hundred-page novel. We buy books and read them ourselves.

Or, all too often, we only read books we won’t buy.

Yes, I’ve done it too, but with the works of dead authors only. Small moment of solidarity with those of my fellows who work years at a time for such modest reward as literature brings in these days. (Unless you write congealed action flicks of the superhero-detecive genre….)

But there’s a way to read my books for free without hammering me deeper into the creative disgrace of art-induced penury. And it involves libraries!

You may not know this, but libraries actually buy the books they lend out! Yes, even e-books! They often get a discount, but, still, a sale’s a sale! Something comes in to keep us alive and writing! This is good! And you still get the book for free!

Libraries will often offer access to literally millions of books. And if it’s not in your nearest library, there’s no need to hurry across town: any larger library system will bring a book to your neighborhood branch from another branch on request–for free! (That magic word again…!)

If you have a Los Angeles Public Library card, you can check out or call in my books in paper and virtual formats right here.

If you don’t–listen closely now!–your local library will usually buy a book you want that is not currently in its collection. For free! You need only ask, either in person, or via the “Suggest a Book” link you’ll find on most library websites.

Well, of course I want you to have mine ordered in, so here are the ISBN codes, used to order books, for the three that are currently available (with the titles linked to their descriptions elsewhere on this site:

Our Own Day Here (Essays on urbanity): 978-1-312-75460-7

The Dust Will Answer (mystery): 978-1-312-98467-7

Family Ties (mystery): 978-1-365-25117-7

If you’re community-minded, you can also use these codes to order your very own copy through a local independent bookstore.

Try it. It’s not so hard. And if you haven’t been to your local library yet, or in forever, you might be surprised at how lively it can be these days.

Let me know what you think of the books.


Rick Risemberg