The Ultimate Guide to Our Most Popular Free eBooks
We are proud to offer you, as our reader, a library of close to 50,000 free eBooks - but where do you start? Which books will make you laugh, make you cry, keep you at the edge of your seat and stay with you long after finishing them? Tastes differ, but there are a couple of books that are almost universally regarded as classics that should be read by anyone with a love of literature. To help you out, we have scoured through our library and identified some of our all-time favorites. You are welcome!
Pride & Prejudice
Pride & Prejudice is one of the most endearing romance novels of all time and has not only sold more than 20 million copies, but also inspired numerous film and television interpretations. It is the humorous tale of the Bennet sisters, all of whom will be without a home if their father dies before one of them are married and able to produce a male heir. This causes quite a stir when the very rich and very eligible Mr. Bingley moves into their neighborhood.
Wuthering Heights was written by Emily Bronte a year before she died, which is a pity as it is not only her only novel, but is also widely considered to be a classic of the English literature. It is not a typical romance novel as the love between two of the main characters, Heathcliff and Catherine, is doomed from the start. The two develop feelings for each other after Catherine’s father adopts Heathcliff, but life had some cruel twists in store for the two.
The love story of Jane Eyre and Mr. Rochester is another classic romance that has stood the test of time and which is still able to enthrall modern readers. The story follows the trials and tribulations of Jane, from her early childhood to working for Edward Rochester, who she falls in love with. Like other classic books, Jane Eyre has been adapted into everything from film and television to theater and operas.
Far From The Madding Crowd
Far From The Maddening Crowd is the tale of Bathsheba Everdene, a strong-willed and independent woman who becomes a farmer in the rural village of Weatherbury. Her presence draws interest from three different suitors, a soldier, shepherd and farmer. However, Bathsheba is determined not to simply marry the first man who proposes, which causes quite a stir amongst her admirers as they all compete for her affection.
Anna Kerenina, the story of a a married noblewoman who falls for an affluent Count, is considered by many to be one of the greatest books ever written. The author, Leo Tolstoy, also wrote the epic “War and Peace” and this book further cemented his reputation as a master of his craft. It is a lengthy book, but one that is filled with enough romance, drama and intrigue to keep you on the edge of your seat.
Mystery / Detective
The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes
Sherlock Holmes, the fictional detective created by Arthur Conan Doyle, has become synonymous with solving baffling mysteries through clever deduction and it all started with this book. It contains a collection of twelve mysteries for the brilliant detective to solve, many of which are firm favorites amongst fans of Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson.
The Secret Adversary
Agatha Christie had a knack for not only creating compelling mysteries, but also fascinating detectives to solve them. The Secret Adversary features the sleuthing duo of Thomas Beresford and Prudence Cowley, also known as Tommy and Tuppence. Christie has written a lot of other novels in this genre, but The Secret Adversary is a stand alone mystery, which serves as a great introduction to her work.
Crime and Punishment
Crime and Punishment is an interesting take on the genre as it focuses on the mental anguish that an ex-student named Rodion faces after the murder of a pawnbroker. Rodion tries to justify the killing with the reasoning that the pawnbroker is unscrupulous and that the money he would gain from her death would help him to not only free himself from poverty, but also perform great deeds. Of course, this doesn’t turn out to be easy as expected and Rodion has to face the harsh realities of his actions.
The Collected Works of Edgar Allen Poe Volume 1, Raven Edition
by Edgar Allen Poe
Many people mistakenly believe that Edgar Allen Poe only wrote horror stories, but the work contained in this volume will quickly dispel that. Stories such as “The Murders in the Rue Morgue” clearly shows how much of an influence Poe had on other writers like Arthur Conan Doyle. Readers unfamiliar with Poe will also appreciate the essays about him by other authors that are included in the book.
The Abandoned Room: A Mystery Story
The Abandoned Room: A Mystery Story kept readers guessing back when is was first released and time has done nothing to diminish its popularity. It features an impossible murder as well as an interesting cast of characters who could all be responsible. Every one of them had sufficient motive to commit the deed, but figuring out who actually did it is not going to be easy.
The Phantom of the Opera
The Phantom of the Opera is one of those tales that has become so ingrained in popular culture that even people who have never read the book know about the lead character. In this thriller a physically deformed man named Erik makes his lair below the Opera Garnier in Paris. People believe that the opera is haunted by a Phantom, but when Erik kidnaps a soprano named Christine, she discovers the true identity of the “Opera Ghost.”
The Most Dangerous Game
While the plot for The Most Dangerous Game by Richard Connell might sound familiar, it is only because it has been copied so many times since it was first published. It is about a big-game hunter who finds himself becoming the hunted after he is stranded on a remote Caribbean island. The hunter, named Sanger Rainsford, has to use every trick in his arsenal to outwit the Russian aristocrat, General Zaroff, who has taken to hunting humans for sport.
The Angel of Terror
The Angel of Terror by Edgar Wallace is a thrilling tale of an attorney named Jack Glover, who has his work cut out for him when his cousin is accused of murder. To Jack it is clear that she was framed by a woman named Jean Briggerland, but her beauty serves as a good disguise for her sociopathic tendencies. To complicate matters even further, a poverty-stricken woman named Lydia is drawn into the whole mess when she inherits the fortune that Jean was willing to kill for.
Greenmantle is the thrilling tale of Major Richard Hannay, who barely has time to recover from battle injuries when he is sent off on another dangerous mission. It seems that Germans are secretly plotting to stir up a jihad in Africa and the Middle East, so Hannay’s intervention is required. The problem is that there is a lot at stake and Hannay has very little to go on, which makes for a thrilling adventure.
Dead Men Tell No Tales
Ernest William Hornung was not just the brother-in-law of Arthur Conan Doyle, but also an accomplished writer in his own right. Dead Men Tell No Tales is the story of a man who is the sole survivor of a ship accident. Not only does he lose everything, but then discovers that the fire that caused the ship to sink might not have been an accident after all.
20,000 Leagues Under The Sea
French author Jules Verne has written a number of classic novels, such as Around the World in Eighty Days and Journey to the Center of the Earth, but Twenty Thousand Leagues Under The Sea still remains one of his best. Submarines existed in the time that the book was written, but were very primitive compared to Verne’s description of the Nautilus, which made the story even more captivating.
The War of the Worlds
The War of the Worlds is a science fiction classic not only because it is a thrilling story, but also because it is one of the very first stories that focused on mankind coming into conflict with an extraterrestrial race. It’s popularity has ensured that the book has never been out of print and its influence can be seen throughout the science fiction world. In addition to numerous films and television shows, the book also inspired many other writers to come up with their own takes on the alien invasion concept.
Anthem is a dystopian novel where all traces of individualism have been wiped out amongst humans. Instead, people live in collectives and decisions are all made by a committee. However, one person has the courage to break away from this mentality and think for himself, but unfortunately this is seen as a great sin and the penalty is death. The size of anthem compared to some of Rand’s later books makes it a good introduction to the author.
A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court
A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court doesn’t just deal with science fiction in the form of time travel, but also blends in plenty of humor and adventure, which is one of the reasons why the book is so timeless. It is also a story that, if you pay close attention to what Twain is saying, goes a little deeper than the fish-out-of-water tale of a 19th century person getting stuck in the 6th century.
The Machine Stops
The Machine Stops by E.M. Forster is one of those books that not only tells a riveting science fiction story, but also predicted a lot of technologies that didn’t exist when it was written, but which is common now. It takes place in a world where humanity has been driven underground and must rely on a machine for survival, which they eventually begin to worship. However, when the machine begins to break down it has dire consequences for humanity.
Fans of the fantasy genre know that they can always count on a Brandon Sanderson book to deliver in terms of world building and magic. It was published in 2009, but unlike most free ebooks that were written recently, it is a stand-alone novel and not part of a series. The tale, which features princesses, magical powers, action and politics earned praise from renowned fantasy authors like Michael Moorcock.
The Devil in Iron
Robert E. Howard was an author that didn’t just confine himself to one particular genre, but wrote about everything from boxing to westerns. However, his fantasy stories are some of the best and definitely had a huge influence on the authors who followed him. The Devil in Iron features Conan the Barbarian, who is one of Howard’s most famous creations and serves as a nice introduction to both the author and the character. For those who are hooked, there’s a whole world of books in the same vein that awaits them.
The Land of the Blue Flower
Frances Hodgson Burnett was best known for her children’s novels, like The Secret Garden, but she also wrote this very uplifting fantasy story. It is about a young king who inherits the kingdom from his father who ruled over it with a great deal of cruelty. This has resulted in it becoming a miserable place, but the prince is determined to make it a land of magic and kindness again.
A Dreamer’s Tales
Anyone with an interest in fantasy should be familiar with the work of Lord Dunsany, the Irish author. His work is considered by many to have influenced everyone from J.R.R. Tolkien to H.P. Lovecraft as well as others. A Dreamer’s Tales is one of his early books and serves as a great introduction to his style as it features a collection of fantasy short stories.
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland
The fantasy world that Lewis Carroll (the pseudonym used by Charles Lutwidge Dodgson used when he wrote the book) is still one of the most memorable in the genre. The book, which features a young girl named Alice who tumbled down a rabbit hole only to find it populated by strange anthropomorphic creatures, has had a large influence on the fantasy genre.
Action & Adventure
The Count of Monte Cristo
The Count of Monte Cristo is considered by many to be one of the best books by Alexandre Dumas, who also wrote The Three Musketeers and numerous other novels. The book is filled to the brim with action and adventure as it follows the story of a young sailor named Edmond Dantes, who falls victim to a plot set up by his envious rivals. Instead of becoming a captain and marrying his sweetheart, Edmond is imprisoned. However, he not only escapes, but also acquires a fortune before setting out to exact his revenge on the people responsible for the injustice that he suffered.
Fast as the Wind
Fast as the Wind is an action packed tale about love, horse racing and a good dose of adventure. The protagonist, Picturn Woodridge, is supposed to ride in a few races in Dartmoor, but it is also the place where his brother is serving time in a prison.
Around the World in 80 Days
Wagers and races always make for action packed adventures and Around The World in 80 Days is based around this concept. It follows Phileas Fogg, who after betting his companions that he'll be able to travel around the world in just eighty days, promptly proceeds to do so using various means of transport along the way.
Treasure Island is probably one of the most well-known pirate tales in literature and offers plenty of action and adventure. It is a timeless classic that is filled with great characters and of course a search for buried pirate treasure. Along the way there are plenty of twists and turns that are sure to keep readers on the edge of their seats.
What makes White Fang such a compelling book is the fact that it is written from the perspective of a wolf-dog. It is set during the Klondike Gold Rush era and features the adventures of White Fang as he slowly transitions from a wild animal to a domesticated one.
Biographies & History
Lincoln is without a doubt one of the most famous and respected American leaders in history, which makes this biography a fascinating read. It was published fifty years after Lincoln's death, which makes it not just one of the earliest books about the president, but also one of the most comprehensive.
Beethoven: The Story of a little boy who was forced to practice
Although this biography is skewed more towards younger readers, it still offers an interesting glimpse into the life of Beethoven and what it took for him to become so proficient at music. It covers his early years as well as his career and contains plenty of great information about Beethoven.
“Over There” With the Australians
It is not always the biographies about famous people that are the most interesting as this book by R. Hugh Knyvett proves. It is a firsthand account that chronicles the life of an intelligence officer who worked as a scout for the Fifteenth Australian Infantry. Due to the age of the book it does contain some elements that are not politically correct, but the way in which the author describes the combat and dangerous recon missions are nail biting stuff.
The Story of My Life
It is hard to find a more inspiring example than Helen Keller when it comes to a person who faced great adversity and refused to let it dampen her spirit. This autobiography was written by Keller at the age of 22 and covers a lot of her life up until that point. It also features letters written by Helen during her youth, which shows how much wisdom and courage she had.
Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin
This book was written by Benjamin Franklin in a very informal style as it was actually aimed at his son. It doesn't just offer some nice insights into the fascinating life of this great man, but also about life in the 18th century. Franklin divided the story of his life into four parts, and this book is still considered by many to be one of the best examples of an autobiography ever written by a famous person.
Folk Lore Books: Aesop’s Fables
Adventures of Pinocchio
Pinocchio is one of the most famous and influential works of children's literature and deserves a read even if you have seen one of the numerous movie adaptations. This tale of a mischievous puppet who longs to become a real boy is not just one of the most translated books in the world, but also one of the best-selling.
Hans Christian Andersen’s Fairy Tales
The fairy tales by Danish author Hans Christian Andersen are among some of the most well-known and beloved as can be seen by the myriad of movies, plays and even ballets they have inspired. This book contains all of the classics, such as The Emperor's New Clothes, The Snow Queen, The Little Match Girl and many others.
The Great Big Treasury of Beatrix Potter
Beatrix Potter wrote a number of children's books featuring animals during her lifetime, many of which have become beloved classics. The Tale of Peter Rabbit is considered by many readers to be one of her best and it can be found in this wonderful collection along with other great stories, such as The Tale of Squirrel Nutkin, The Tale of Benjamin Bunny, and more.
Peter Pan is another book aimed at young readers that needs no introduction. It started out as a 1904 play before being turned into a novel in 1911. Starring Peter Pan, the boy who wouldn't grow up, as well as a host of other now-famous characters, such as Tinker Bell, Wendy Darling and Captain Hook, this is without a doubt a true classic.
The Secret Garden
The Secret Garden is one of the most well-known novels written by Frances Hodgson Burnett and it's popularity continued to grow with each television, stage and film adaptation over the years. It tells the story of Mary, a 10 year old with a rough childhood that leaves her with a bad attitude. However, things soon begin to change in her life when she has to go live with her uncle and finds out about a private walled garden on his property.
Little Woman is the touching tale of four sisters and the hardships that they have to endure. The girls, who are living with their mother in New England, have to deal with their father being away from home and the fact that the family recently lost its fortune. What makes Little Women such an engrossing read is the fact that Alcott based a lot of it on her own life.
Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm
Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm tells the story of a young girl named Rebecca, who goes to live with her two aunts in order to ease the financial burden on her mother. Unfortunately for Rebecca, her aunts actually wanted her older sister to live with them because she has better household skills. The book also features plenty of charming descriptions of the town and its inhabitants, which makes it a joy to read.
A Girl of The Limberlost
A Girl of the Limberlost takes place in Indiana and features a young woman named Elnora who lives with her widowed mother. Elnora is a bright and courageous woman, in contrast with her mother who has grown bitter after the death of Elnora's father. A Girl of the Limberlost was a very popular book for its time and still has the ability to captivate readers.
Jerusha Abbot is a young girl who grew up in an orphanage and unsure what to do with her life. Then, out of the blue, she is informed that one of the trustees of the orphanage is going to pay for her to go to college. The book describes Jerusha's education as well as personal growth and the letters that she writes to her mysterious benefactor.
The Last of the Mohicans
Long before it was an epic historical drama film featuring Daniel Day-Lewis, or indeed the seven or so film adaptations before it, The Last of the Mohicans was a historical novel by James Fenimore Cooper. It is set during the Seven Years' War and chronicles the journey it takes to transport the two daughters of a Colonel to safety through the New York Wilderness. This book is one of the most popular historical fiction titles since its publication and widely considered to be a classic.
A Tale of Two Cities
Charles Dickens based his historical novel, A Tale of Two Cities, on the events that led up to the French Revolution. It is the story of Alexandre Manette, who is imprisoned in the Bastille for eighteen years. After his release, he meets his daughter Lucie for the first time and she takes him back to England after the shock of finding out he's still alive. The book also contains one of the most well-known opening lines of all times with "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times."
The Prince and the Pauper
The Prince and the Pauper is a historical fiction novel by Mark Twain and is known for being his first attempt at the genre. It is the story of two boys, one who is a pauper and one who is the son of King Henry VIII. Remarkably, the two look identical and after a chance encounter, decide to switch clothes and experience what the other's life is like.
The Three Musketeers
While many readers are familiar with the classical novel, The Three Musketeers, by French author Alexandre Dumas, not everyone knows that it was partly based on facts. Not only is the story based around real events of 17th century France, but most of the major characters were also real people of that time period. Dumas was inspired by another historical novel when he wrote The Three Musketeers and the popularity of his tale has resulted in numerous television, film, stage and even video-game adaptations.
The Hunchback of Notre Dame
The Hunchback of Notre Dame is not just a story of a gypsy girl named Esmeralda and a hunchbacked bell-ringer named Quasimodo, but also Medieval Paris and its imposing architecture. In fact, some readers think that Hugo spent a bit too much time describing the histories of the French buildings, but it remains a classic book nonetheless.
Based on the amount of film, television and theatrical interpretations of Bram Stoker's Dracula, there can be no doubt that it is one of the most influential vampire novels of all time. However, despite its age and the legions of imitations it has inspired, this book which tells the story of the evil Vampire Dracula and his plan to spread his undead curse from Transylvania to England, is still a great read.
While classic vampire stories will forever be associated with Bram Stoker, Theophile Gautier wrote his own take on these horrific monsters in the late 1800’s. Clarimonde is the tale of a priest named Romuald, who falls in love with a beautiful woman who he sees at the church on the day of his ordination. However, this is no simple love story and things quickly take a turn for the worse.
Imprisoned With the Pharaohs
When it comes to horror, you can't go wrong with any of the novels by one of the masters of the genre, H.P. Lovecraft. However, Imprisoned With the Pharaohs is a great place to start as it is a standalone story and features Harry Houdini as the protagonist. In this story, Houdini is kidnapped and thrown down a deep hole in Egypt, where he witnesses a number of terrifying things while trying to escape.
Carnacki, The Ghost Finder
Readers who enjoys the adventures of Sherlock Holmes, but wishes that his cases were a little more horrific and supernatural should try out these stories by William Hope Hodgson. Carnacki, The Ghost Finder is a collection of short stories featuring Thomas Carnacki, who has to deal with some rather chilling cases as an investigator.
Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu was one of the best writers of the nineteenth century when it came to ghost stories and favored a more eerie approach compared to the shock horror of other writers. The Familiar, which is a Victorian Gothic horror, is no exception and features a sea captain who finds himself being followed by something sinister.
Fiction and Literature
Persuasion is considered by many readers to be one of the most mature and well written novels from Jane Austen. It was published a few months after her death and tells the story of Anne Elliot, a woman who encounters the man who she was engaged to in her youth. The engagement was broken off because her family was dissatisfied with the match, but a lot has changed in the meantime.
Ulysses by James Joyce is by no means an easy book to read, but those who do take the time and make the effort will definitely agree that it is one of the most important modernist literature books. The book follows the viewpoints of multiple characters as they go through a variety of daily events, but to fully appreciate what Joyce has done, it is recommended that readers are familiar with The Odyssey by Homer.
by Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra
Although this book is already more than 400 years old, time has done nothing to diminish how enjoyable it is to read. The story of Alonso Quixano, a man so obsessed with chivalrous stories that he takes up a lance and sword himself, has been entertaining readers since it was first published in 1605. Also along for the ride is Sancho Panza, a simple farmer who Don Quixote recruits as his squire, only for the poor man to face the consequences of most of his delusional master's actions.
After reading The Prince, it is easy to see why Niccolo Machiavelli's name has become synonymous with underhanded tactics and secret plans or acting in an opportunistic manner. However, this book, which is about gaining power and keeping it, is still a fascinating glimpse into what it took to become a ruthless leader in the 16th-century.
Anne of Green Gables
Like many classic books, Anne of Green Gables has been adapted as films, television shows, musicals, plays and even animated. The story of an orphan girl who accidentally ends up with a brother and sister who wanted to adopt a boy to assist them with their farm, has been translated into more than 36 languages and sold millions of copies since it was published in 1908.