Minimalist Reading: Magazines, Dictionaries, Books and Comics

Okay, so the most minimalist, eco-friendly and frugal way to read a magazine is to go to the library and sit there for hours thumbing through The Economist and other titles you’re interested in (*cough*Vogue*cough*).

You can also do this at Chapters, but I feel very weird/guilty for sitting there for hours, going through stacks of magazines for free in a store that is meant to sell them.

The second most, would be to sneak over to your brother’s/friend’s/doctor’s place and sit there for hours reading THEIR copy of the magazine.

The very last would be to get it on an e-reader, which is the option I’ve chosen because my brother who has The Economist, doesn’t subscribe to Vogue 😉

Enter: the iPad + their apps!

I got the iPad 2 a while back because I wanted a 10″ screen to read my comic books/manga on (and yes, I do read them over and over again!), and it was nice to see comics like Asterix & Obelix or Tintin in full colour rather than black and white.

I chose the iPad because although they are not without their faults, but there was (and still is) no other option on the market unless I wanted to shell out $1500 for a super fancy black & white-only European e-reader that only had e-ink on it, and I shall not name here because I can’t remember its name 😛

The iPad is pretty darn versatile outside of e-reading, even if they are missing basic apps like CLOCK, CALENDAR and CALCULATOR (seriously, Apple?).

I don’t really use it to organize my life, my iPod Touch does that handily for me, but it has become my go-to station for entertainment because it is far more portable than a laptop.

So what do I really use it for? READING!!!!!!!!

I will mention that I don’t have access to constant wifi. I didn’t pay for the plan, nor for the iPad to do that, so I take wifi where I can find/get it, which is kind of annoying but a reality of my cheapness.


I read comic books and manga on PDF Expert for $9.99, just because I have them in PDF format and I really like the app.

However, I pestered a stranger on the metro the other day who was also reading comic books and asked him what app it was. He told me Comic Zeal for $7.99, and highly recommended it.


It reads all kinds of comic book and manga extensions (.cbr and .pdf, etc) and looked pretty fast in turning the pages.

Still, I am sticking to only using my PDF Expert because:

  1. I bought it before I knew about ComicZeal
  2. I paid what I think is good $$ for it
  3. I use it in my professional life to reference notes
  4. You can make notes in it, highlight etc. VERY cool.
  5. You can re-save the document you’ve made changes to (e.g. contracts), download it in iTunes under Apps & email it
  6. It has nesting folders!!!!

It is the best PDF app out there, in my opinion and well worth the money.


In case you’re curious, here are some comic books/manga titles I read:

  • Tintin
  • Asterix and Obelix
  • Lone Wolf & Cub
  • Samurai Executioner
  • Usagi Yojimbo
  • ..anything by Rumiko Takahashi


For reading e-books, I buy them from Kobo Books and I read them on their Kobo app which I like, but don’t love (it’s slow at times). They don’t quite have all the titles I want in an e-book, but I’m patient. I may consider getting the Kindle app and buying titles from Amazon, if that’s possible.

The other nice thing with the Kobo app is I’ve downloaded a ton of free e-books (mostly Sherlock Holmes at this point), as well as other titles that interested me on their site.


AND YES! If you noticed on my shelves, “Richard Castle”, the fictional writer on the TV series “Castle”, really has 3 books out called Naked Heat and Heat Rises and Heat Wave. LOVE.


Then I got a hankering for reading magazines. To me, it’s a logical progression if I have the ability to read in full-colour on a portable device.

Normally, I can resist buying physical magazines at the cashier checkout because I don’t really like buying things that I am going to read once and eventually give/donate away to save on storage/space when I travel.

..but if I could buy magazines and keep them forever with minimal storage space, that’s another story altogether.

I like keeping magazines because I bookmark pages I liked, re-read articles on interesting people they’ve featured, reference recipes I want to try etc.

Enter: Zinio!

ZINIO (Yes this is actually my own library.. :P)

I can’t believe I hadn’t heard of them before. You can buy subscriptions to (limited) magazines, like Mental_Floss (LOVE!), LouLou and they’ll download to your iPad via wifi once the new issues become available.

You can also cancel a subscription and be refunded for any undelivered ones at any time.


The only down side is that they don’t have ALL the magazines. I wish they had other ones I enjoy like Real Simple, but you can’t win ’em all.

I also use Apple’s (stupid) Newsstand app, which only has Vanity Fair that I like to download and read.

What’s cool about Vanity Fair in this version, is that it’s interactive. It is REALLY neat to be able to see slideshows in the middle of a magazine or to have to touch the screen to see things:

Caveat Emptor: It is almost 500MB for each Vanity Fair magazine and takes about 45 minutes to download via Wifi. You also cannot do ANYTHING while it is downloading, it has to stay on the screen, open (not in sleep mode) for 45 minutes. PURE TORTURE!! But worth it in the end.. I hope they change that downloading BS post haste…


The last thing to purchase are dictionaries.

I shelled out for the best (read: most expensive) versions on the iPad, namely the Collins dictionaries at $30 a pop ($20 or $10 for the other one, but it looks like it has less words and less colloquial phrases).

  • YES. It’s expensive for a dictionary APP of all things.
  • YES. I could just ask BF for most of the translations.
  • NO. It doesn’t need the internet <— biggest bonus point & reason why I paid

…but it is a really well-designed dictionary app that lets you search in either language, and it is helpful when we’re trying to translate what “swiss chard” is in French (it’s bette, by the way).

And it acts like a real dictionary. After you read the word swiss chard, you can scroll down with your finger to discover other words and phrases:

Totally handy for the language student. 🙂

I also like that it is also available on my iPod Touch for the same price. I didn’t have to pay twice, which would have really made me angry.


Being the curious person I am, everyone told me how awesome Richard Dawkins’ The Magic of Reality for $13.99 was as an interactive ebook app on the iPad, and it doesn’t disappoint.

It has videos, small exercises you can do with your fingers and the pictures sometimes move 🙂 Like in Harry Potter 😉

It’s very interactive, although a bit buggy and slow if you are in the middle of something and it crashes. I also don’t like that there aren’t buttons or links to go back to a Table of Contents, or a main page. Or to bookmark.

Still, it is VERY cool, NOT just for children and informative to boot.


The other final bonus is anything I want to save or bookmark, I can simply use the iPad to take a snapshot (hold down on both the menu button and the on/off button at once), or use the app itself to make bookmarks (like in Zinio), that I can come back to and reference later on.

In conclusion: YES! My e-reading dreams have come true…

The iPad and apps are great for minimalist e-book, e-reference and e-magazine reading, but is not so hot for the wallet. 😛

Still, I absolutely think it was worth the price to buy an iPad, the apps and the books.

I can’t believe how mobile and compact a single device can be and how long I’ve dealt with NOT owning or buying physical books or magazines because of the weight and space they took up.

It’s exactly what I wanted for both business and pleasure.

Now every time someone asks me: Is it worth it to switch to an e-book reader? I mean, it must be expensive to re-purchase everything again, and kind of annoying to not have wonderfully tactile pages to turn... my answer is always:

I cannot carry 500 books with me at any given time mainly because I travel a lot and I hate moving heavy stuff, especially boxes of books I only read on occasion (although I do re-read them).

Mobility and being able to read what I want at any time is a far higher priority than having an actual book to hold and read.

Frankly I am willing to pay for it, and I can afford it.


You may not agree with me and say that libraries are the way to go, or secondhand bookstores where you can pick books up for $5, but I don’t agree with you either so there’s no point in trying to make me feel spendy/bad/stupid/guilty for spending money on books I already physically owned, just because I wanted to travel with my library 😉

Oh, and I don’t miss that book-page turning feel all that much, even thick novels or hardcovers are as just as difficult to hold open to read with one hand, just as an iPad is difficult to hold in one hand so you have to put it in your lap to read.

It’s the same difference to me…

About the Author

I'm a 20-something year old girl who lived out of a single suitcase in 2007, and now I'm living with less, but only with the best. You don't have to get rid of everything to become a minimalist! Minimalism can help simplify and organize your life, career, & physical surroundings. You can read more about me as a minimalist. Or come and visit my other blog Fabulously Broke in the City where I got out of $60,000 of debt in 18 months, earning $65,000 gross/year.