Sunday, January 11

Frugal tip for couples

Most frugalites have long known the value of reading -- especially with books borrowed from libraries rather than purchased at stores.

But one practice they may not have tried: Reading to each other.

I found the value in this back when Tim's eczema was flaring up regularly, requiring oatmeal baths. Problem was, Tim's ADD makes him restless and thus bath-averse. To keep him in and soaking as long as possible, I started reading out loud.

Eventually, this turned into a great way to get him to enjoy books he might otherwise not read. I'm a big fan of Terry Pratchett's Discworld series. The books make me laugh, but also provide an interesting, almost third-party look at modern society. I knew Tim would enjoy them, if only I could get him to actually open one up. In the end, I just made him a captive audience. Sure enough, he was laughing out loud within the first few pages.

Nowadays, I try to save up the energy to read at least a few pages each night before falling asleep. It's a great way of both winding down from a stressful day and spending some quality time together. It's also helped our schedules, as it gets us in bed at a reasonable hour.

Oviously, depending on your partner's tastes, you may choose books that are more light-hearted. But if you both appreciate great literature and want to go for Moby Dick -- well, then, more power to ya.

Whatever you end up reading, it's a great way to get someone outside of his or her literary comfort zone. It's a wondeful shared experience, to boot, and an excellent way to end the day.

Of course, plenty of people have trouble going to bed at exactly the same time their spouses do. They might decide this tip isn't for them, because they'd never get through a book by the library due date. But remember: Some libraries will let you renew your books, so long as no one is waiting. Or you can try programsl ike Freecycle or Paperback Swap. There are even programs like that act like a Netflix for books.

Even more importantly, it is so soothing to be read to, or fun to be the reader and share your books with your partner, that you will probably find yourself making time in your day. You'll be looking forward to the time spent together, as well as finding out the next plot development.

It's a bedtime ritual you can look forward to -- one that cost you absolutely nothing but be completely priceless.

To get you started, I'm doing a giveaway for a $25 Amazon gift card. Most of you should know the drill by now. You can receive an entry:

  1. If you are a subscriber. (Anyone who's let me know they subscribed in the last is already entered.)
  2. If you mention this on your blog.
  3. If you refer anyone to this blog. (They need to let me know in a message.)
  4. If you post this on any social bookmarking site.
  5. Leave a comment on any post -- but please something more than "Great post" or "I agree."
  6. And, now, if you tweet it. (Let me know if you do.)

Contest ends 1/17 at 11:59 p.m. PST. I will draw a winner using

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Blogger Shevy said...

I'm not sure that this tip would work for us as our tastes are so very different but it's a cool idea. (Right now he's watching the football game and reading the sports section of the paper. At 10:30 in the morning. Sigh.)

I've also heard of families reading aloud on car trips, choosing something like the Little House books or the Narnia ones to read with kids in the car. (Not everyone has a DVD player in their car to amuse the kids, although the car companies are pushing them hard.)

Anyway, I'd be thrilled with an Amazon gift card, bibliophile that I am!

January 11, 2009 at 10:30 AM

Blogger Abby said...


Tim usually reads Magic the Gathering books and I almost never read sci-fi/fantasy (Discworld is one of the big exceptions). I generally stick to modern lit. But we found some middle ground.

At any rate, I think car trips are a good idea -- if you are the one driving, you can always get books on tape.

I always encourage people who have friends/relatives in the hospital for long periods of time to get them audio books. I know it was very soothing for me to just listen to someone read for hours on end.

January 11, 2009 at 11:41 AM

Blogger Meg said...

My husband loves it when I read to him. He reads very slowly and doesn't have a lot of time, so often I'll read books for him and sum them up and/or read the interesting parts.

I hope he doesn't mind me saying, but I also have read bits from the Chronicles of Narnia to him. They were some of my favorite stories growing up, so it's a nice thing to be able to share.

January 11, 2009 at 1:11 PM

Blogger Rebecca said...

This does sound like a good idea. Finding time with work and a 2 yr old is a little difficult. Working on it though. Finally got exercising in...maybe this will be the next step. I'm sure an Amazon gift card would be a step in the right direction ;)

January 11, 2009 at 3:56 PM

Blogger nbp said...

I subscribed. posted at

posted on facebook:

I also twitted it.

January 12, 2009 at 12:20 AM

Blogger Mrs. Accountability said...

1. I'm subscribed to your RSS feed. 2. I blogged about your contest at my blog here:
3. I tweeted about it a few minutes ago.
4. I bookmarked your contest post to delicious.

I love how you found a way to make your hubby comfortable while he had to soak in his oatmeal bath. Poor guy, he probably hated it! Reading aloud to one another sounds like a fantastic idea. I used to read to my children every single night and we had the most peaceful bedtimes. I don't know if my hubby would be able to stay awake if I read to him before bed, but maybe I'll try it out sometime!

Thanks for having this great giveaway!!

January 12, 2009 at 1:01 AM

Blogger wigget said...


January 12, 2009 at 5:29 AM

Blogger carogonza said...

On our last road trip, we forgot to get an audio book. Luckily, I had a book so I read it to my hubby. We loved it.

January 12, 2009 at 6:16 AM

Blogger Abby said...


Indeed, I think *most* things are a little difficult when you have a two-year-old kid running around. Like: reading, thinking and even sleeping, on occasion. Still, glad to hear the GC could be put to good use. Consider yourself entered.


I love the idea of an audio book for a road trip! If we do one again, I will most certainly have to look into it. It's a good thing that you were able to improvise in a pinch, though.

January 12, 2009 at 8:01 AM

Blogger Abby said...

Mrs. Accountability,

My, you're a busy lady! Thanks for all the press! You've got five entries by my count.

As for reading to kids, yes I loved it when my mom read to me. I think it's absolutely the way to inspire kids to love books!

And I have a very fond memory from high school: I had a full body rash in addition to having mono. I was up all night itching, and my mom would cover me in anti-itch stuff and read to me until I could finally fall asleep. Alice in Wonderland, as I recall. It was very soothing and made me feel warm and fuzzy -- a much better feeling than rashy and itchy!

And if your husband is prone to falling asleep, well you can always read a favorite book of his. When I was in the hospital, we had to stick to books I had already read, since I had the tendency to fall asleep during it. (That was half the reason my mom did it, to calm me down, since my blood pressure was through the roof. The other half of the reason was that sitting alone with your thoughts for hours on end, unable to move -- let alone read -- is incredibly boring!)

January 12, 2009 at 8:18 AM

Blogger Maia said...

Hi Abby! Just tweeted this post. (@myster) You can thank Donna F. for promoting it shamelessly...

My boyfriend and I had to drive up to Fairbanks in -50F temperatures last week with two dogs in the car. He was not happy. Phillip Pullman got us through it. The "His Dark Materials" audiobooks are read by the author with a full cast performing the dialogue. Fastest seven hours ever. I think The Golden Compass probably kept me from starting the new year newly single. (We also got to see the Denali caribou herd wandering along the side of the road, which didn't hurt.)

January 12, 2009 at 9:46 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I stumbled ya, and I subscribe! Forgive the short comment; I IM ya at least once a day though! Hahaha

January 12, 2009 at 9:57 AM

Blogger Kate@ThePaycheckChronicles said...

Thanks for the contest!

We read to the kids, and aloud in the car, but I hadn't thought of reading to the other grownup in the house. It sounds very relaxing, but I'm afraid I'd get bored.

January 12, 2009 at 11:04 AM

Blogger pamela said...

Got intro 2 site from Lynnae via Tweet - Interesting & $ for Amazon, too. For me reading has always been an inner experience - we like just like together on the boat & reading side by side.

January 12, 2009 at 12:04 PM

Blogger Abby said...


Thanks for reading. I think reading side by side is lovely too! Very contenting.

But sometimes it's nice to have interaction -- at least for people like Tim and I who are watching TV while doing other things. This is one-on-one time. If you have a less-technology-dependent life, you probably have more quality time together to begin with.

January 12, 2009 at 12:31 PM

Blogger judybrittle said...

My husband doesn't read so that would be out,my husband doesn't talk so that wouldn't work either,he doesn't watch any of the same tv shows as me so that wouldn't work.We lead completely different lives me upstairs in my room and him downstairs in his. So a wonderful Amazon gift card that would also not be shared except for my grandkids. Thank you!

January 12, 2009 at 1:08 PM

Blogger b2002 said...

Reading to each other (or making personal audiobooks) is such a wonderful idea. You get to hear your spouse's soothing voice and save money at the same time.

Great point about introducing each other to books you wouldn't otherwise read. People are always telling me that I should read this book or that. Normally I don't have the time to read all those recommendations. But if someone actually took the time to read the book to me, I will definitely make time for it!

Will @ Wise Bread

January 12, 2009 at 1:17 PM

Blogger Abby said...


Oooo, I never even considered an audiobook of one's own making. That might be a fabulous DIY Valentine's day present. (Content, ahem, of the person's choosing, obviously. If you want to read a favorite novel or naughty limericks, well... that's up to you.)


Well, I'm sorry to hear that your lives have become so separate (although, perhaps, that's just fine by you both). At least take heart in knowing that you get two entries (one for subscription, one for commenting) that will get you and your grandkids closer to that $25 Amazon GC!

January 12, 2009 at 1:31 PM

Blogger Bunny B said...

Hi Abby,

I love reading aloud to my hubby before bedtime. He usually doesn't mind the story I'm reading and it is fun!

1. I subscribe
3. Tweeted:


January 12, 2009 at 5:47 PM

Blogger Christina said...

I think my husband and I are too different in our tastes... but maybe if it were Harry Potter. :-)

I subscribed via reader.

I also stumbled this post (ncheapskate).

And I commented on a different post.

Thanks for a great contest. Discovered it through Donna! :-)

January 12, 2009 at 6:12 PM

Blogger Angeline said...

My boyfriend and I read out loud to each other once in a while. Usually we pick out a romance novels, since they are by far the funniest things to read out loud. We love reading them dramatically, acting out the role of the tough but soft-hearted Scottish warrior and his virginal maiden. Which may be revealing too much about our relationship, but ah well.

But after reading this post, I would love to continue with this. But hopefully with different reading material this time.

January 13, 2009 at 12:25 AM

Blogger Jennifer said...

Thank you for the great contest! This sounds like an excellent idea and one I'd never thought of before. I'll have to mention it to my fiance and see if he is interested. I'm a big bookworm but he doesn't read as often and I always think "I bet he'd love this book if only he'd open it!" Sounds like a great way to get to know your partner better. Thanks!

Oh and I wanted to say that I'm a subscriber too.

January 13, 2009 at 7:40 AM

Blogger Sena said...

Bunny referred me and I have you linked up at

I subscribe as well.

Reading aloud does create a nice bond between people!

January 13, 2009 at 6:56 PM

Blogger Suzy said...

I love it! My hubby and I are coming up on our 10 yr. anniversary and we've been reading to each other for all this time. There is something very intimate about sharing a book with someone - you have so many inside jokes and whatnot afterward! Since I'm a children's librarian, my hubby and I have read many fun children's series together. And as far as audio books, our favorite reader is Jim Dale. He did the Harry Potter books. He is incredible!

January 14, 2009 at 11:46 AM

Blogger Hannah Rose said...

That is such a great idea. I remember my parents telling me about how they would stay up, not even realizing the time, because of how good a book was.

That Amazon gift card sounds scrumptious.

January 14, 2009 at 4:17 PM

Blogger Jeremy M said...

Wonderful idea. We have a young child, so I get to hear my wife read to him regularly - I love it.

I'd try reading to her, but we have pretty different tastes in books. She reads yoga and Hindu books, and I read a lot of financial or Byron Katie right now. We do read quotes, high points of the books, or poems sometimes...

Anyway, hoping for the Amazon card, so we can pick out something together!

Thanks for the idea.

January 14, 2009 at 11:57 PM

Blogger penn said...

thanks for the good reminder. I blogged about it ( ). This is something my boyfriend and I really enjoy together. He's not a big reader, but he likes the books I pick out for car trips, and he is always up for snuggling and reading childrens' books together. He and I are both just out of grad school, I'm doing an internship, and he's got quite a bit of student loan debt. This is one of the ways we really enjoy spending time together without spending anything (thank you library!).

January 15, 2009 at 9:35 AM

Blogger Megan said...

What a great reminder indeed. I find it so comforting when, after a long day at work, being away from your husband, it is just a great time to spend with each other and no one else.

January 15, 2009 at 12:40 PM

Blogger Jackie B. said...

Abby, What a great giveaway!I would love to win. I am also a subscriber so give me an extra entry for that, will ya please? I love the fact that you and Tim can share a special "reading time" together. I do not think it would be something my boyfriend would be interested in though. I myself have "goaled(?)" to read more this year so the GC would be a great treat for me.

January 15, 2009 at 4:20 PM

Blogger Leilani said...

My husband and I are both avid readers, but other than harrassing each other with trivia (from interesting articles or cool brief passages) we have never thought to read to each other.
Great post!
I'd love to win the gift card.

Thank you for the chance.

January 16, 2009 at 8:30 AM

Blogger Larissa said...

My husband and I are expecting our first child in May (a boy!) and have enjoyed reading to him at night. So far, we've made it part-way through the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.

I've love to win the gift card!

January 17, 2009 at 9:53 AM

Blogger ~Dawn C said...

The only thing we agree on in the house to read out loud is the Bible.. otherwise we have totally different tastes.

January 18, 2009 at 3:18 PM

Blogger Abby said...

Okay, one last thought for you all, as this contest winds down:

A lot of you said that tastes are completely different. But part of my point was that this is a great way to try to find more common ground. Tim is trying Terry Pratchett. And he's recently getting into "Left Behind" which I probably wouldn't look at otherwise. But I decided I should give it a try and read it out loud to him.

It's about broadening one's horizons. About remembering that there are lots of kinds of books out there. Maybe after a book each you will find that you still don't have any literary common ground, but my guess is there are at least a few books out there that you can both enjoy.

January 18, 2009 at 3:24 PM


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