What’s better than a cheap book? That’s right, a free book. There are many great books that you can download and readAnd That you will not have to spend even a cent. This is thanks to the wonders of the public domain, allowing classics from Shakespeare to Kafka to be available to everyone.
Apple’s reading platform has an extensive list of free “books you want to read,” while Amazon offers a library of classics that are either free or very close to it. (These are almost all free if you’re an Amazon Kindle Unlimited subscriber.) These range from children’s books to plays to more modern classics.
There’s a big, wide world of cheap and expensive books on these platforms, but here are 15 classics to get you started.
Peter Pan (JM Barry)
Here’s one for parents who are looking for something to read to their kids, or Disney enthusiasts wanting to read the play that inspired the novel that inspired the 1953 classic. Peter Pan, also published as Peter and Wendy, is the story of Neverland, Peter Pan, Tinkerbell, and the nefarious Captain Hook. A worthy disclaimer though: it contains depictions of Native Americans which is very… 1904.
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Frankenstein (Mary Shelley)
Like most classics, you may have got a chance through Frankenstein during English classes in high school. we’ve all been there. Taking any book apart in school is enough to put anyone off the book, but Frankenstein has always been an exception to me. Frankenstein is not only seen as the first science-fiction novel, it is also a timeless parable, one of the finest examples of Gothic literature and a true product of the Romantic movement.
If that sort of thing doesn’t sell you, you can still laugh at Victor Frankenstein as he reaps what he sows.
Dracula (Bram Stoker)
One more for the Goths! If you’re a fan of Our Dead Friends, it’s worth experiencing one of the books that started it all. The story is great for those after a good, suspenseful gothic horror. It’s easy to think that Dracula is another hard-to-read classic, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. The writing is really good (after over 100 years, it’s quite an achievement) and it’s really scary in parts.
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Greek philosophers are still back after all these centuries, which means they are unlikely to be out of style any time soon. Plato is arguably the most famous Greek philosopher – after Socrates and Aristotle – and The Republic is his most famous work. What’s most striking about much (though thankfully probably not all) of Ancient Greek writing is how relevant it is today.
Reading Ancient Greek literature can help you show off more at parties, which is good.
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Metamorphosis (Franz Kafka)
There are a lot of long reads on this list, so here’s a short one. Metamorphosis follows the sudden and inexplicable transformation of a man into a giant insect and, despite spanning less than 100 pages, has been the subject of rigorous psychological scrutiny and interpretation in the 116 years since it was first published.
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Hamlet, Romeo and Juliet (Shakespeare)
If you really want to challenge yourself, Shakespeare is the way to go. It may take some time to get used to the language and format, but it is quite rewarding when you do. There’s a drama for everyone: For those who love romance, tragedy, comedy, or even completely uninspired fantasy. Hamlet and Romeo and Juliet are among the most famous, so they would be good places to start. Almost everyone is at least familiar with the stories—and trust us, being familiar with the plot helps a lot if you’re new to Shakespeare.
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The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (Arthur Conan Doyle)
Sherlock Holmes was cool before Robert Downey Jr took his role on the silver screen. This collection of stories was published 120 years ago, but mysteries have a timeless quality to them: intrigue doesn’t die with age. Sherlock Holmes may not be the most important book on this list, but it may be the funniest.
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Pride and Prejudice, Emma (Jane Austen)
We know what you’re thinking: won’t Jane Austen just be a tad more anxious and boring?? what are they saying? Yes, what’s going on? And yes, Jane Austen’s books can feel overwhelming and almost monotonous when you look at them through a modern lens. Reading Austen’s books, however, is like a cheeky window into the past: Jane Austen books parody Regency society and make fun of some of the social customs of the time. If you want to get started on Austen, we recommend that you go with Pride and Prejudice or Emma first.
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Communist Manifesto (Karl Marx)
Let us simply say that its inclusion is not an endorsement of communism. With that out of the way, the Communist Manifesto remains one of the most influential pieces of writing in the past few centuries. Written by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, it would inspire a movement and philosophy that would eventually take over half of Europe within a century of its 1848 publication date. It is also very easy to read that Marx’s significantly more capital intensive working, but it is also available for free if you are prepared to read the thousands of pages of 19th century economies.
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The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (Mark Twain)
There are several novels that have become known as “The Great American Novel” – Catcher in the Rye, Moby Dick, To Kill a Mockingbird and many others. But perhaps the novel with the biggest claim to the title is The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Twain is considered America’s greatest comedian and one of its most famous writers of all time. Huckleberry Finn is the book he is best known for and is a must read for anyone wishing to familiarize themselves with American literature.
Download for The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn Free on Apple Books Or .
Moby Dick (Herman Melville)
Alas, Huck Finn isn’t the only great American novel you can read for free. Moby Dick gave the world the phrase “white whale”, as well as one of the most famous opening sentences. The book is close to 170 years old, but it remains a mainstay of “books you should read” lists everywhere.
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Federalist Papers (Alexander Hamilton)
You may have experienced these as extremely boring history class texts before, butNew life has been breathed into them. The Federalist Papers is a collection of essays by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison and John Jay (but mostly by Hamilton) in which they encourage ratification of the United States Constitution and also argue for a more centralized state. These will be dry to many, but worthwhile backdrops for die-hard fans of the musical Hamilton.
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War and Peace (Leo Tolstoy)
We’ve saved the biggest for last. War and Peace is a monster, so much so that its name has become an adjective used to refer to intimidating large pieces of work. And make no mistake, war and peace are a lot. But to do so would be to familiarize oneself with the “lion of Russian literature”, as the book called it. If you’re up to the challenge, it’s free on Apple Books.
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