Many novels on Amazon’s Kindle shop and Apple Books can be read for exactly $0 thanks to the magic of the public domain. Plato and Peter Pan are among the books on this list.
Even though Kindle is well-known, Apple Books is the real star of this show. It contains a long list of “books you should read” that are all available for free download. On Amazon, many of these are also free, but a few will cost you a few dollars (or maybe just a couple of cents). If you’re a member of Kindle Unlimited, you’ll get access to an even larger library of free books.
On these sites, you can find a large variety of low- and no-cost books. To get you started, here are of the greatest.
Little Women (Louisa May Alcott)
Little Women has been a bestseller since it was first published in 1859, and the film adaptation starring Emma Watson has brought it back into the spotlight. It’s a classic coming-of-age story that follows four sisters as they transition from girls to women. There have been numerous stage productions, screen adaptations, operas, and television dramas based on Louisa May Alcott’s bestselling novel. It’s free to see what all the commotion is about.
Peter Pan (J. M. Barrie)
Whether you’re a parent seeking for a book to read to your children or a Disney fan searching for a source of inspiration, this is the book for you. The story of Neverland, Peter Pan, Tinkerbell, and Captain Hook may be found in Peter Pan, also known as Peter and Wendy. However, there should be a disclaimer: It contains very… 1904.
Frankenstein (Mary Shelley)
Frankenstein, like many other classics, may have been assigned reading in English class. Every one of us has been there at some point. If you’re anything like me, picking apart any book in school has turned you off reading for the rest of your life. Besides being the first science fiction novel, Frankenstein is a timeless fable, one of the best examples of gothic literature, and a true product of the Romantic age.
Dracula (Bram Stoker)
A new one for the Goths, of course! If you’re a fan of the undead, it’s a good idea to read one of the first books in the series. If you’re looking for a decent gothic horror story, this one is for you. If you think of Dracula as another one of those difficult-to-read classics, think again. The writing is still strong (after more than a century), and sections of it are downright creepy.
The Republic (Plato)
All these centuries later, Greek philosophers are still remembered, so they are unlikely to go out of vogue any time soon. The Republic is Plato’s best-known work, and he is regarded as one of the greatest Greek philosophers alongside Socrates and Aristotle. An amazing aspect of ancient Greek prose (but thankfully not all) is how contemporary it is.
Dream Psychology (Sigmund Freud)
There are only a few specialists in academia who have the ability to see the zeitgeist as well as Sigmund Freud did. Even the term “defense mechanism,” which refers to the act of protecting one’s self from one’s own id, ego, and super-ego, has ties to Sigmund Freud’s writings. These writings are often very scholarly and difficult to understand. Dream Psychology is one of Freud’s best-known books, and it’s also one of the shortest.
The Metamorphosis (Franz Kafka)
Because there are so many lengthy books on this list, I thought I’d provide something quick. Even though it is only 100 pages long, The Metamorphosis has been the subject of intense psychological analysis for the past 116 years since it was originally published by the German author Goethe.
Hamlet / Romeo and Juliet (Shakespeare)
Shakespeare is the way to go if you’re looking for a real test of your skills. The structure and language can be a challenge at first, but once you get the hang of it, it’s a joy to read. It doesn’t matter if you’re a fan of swoon-worthy romance, dark comedy, or utterly crazy fantasy. The most well-known are Hamlet and Romeo and Juliet, so those are wonderful places to start. Everybody knows at least a little bit about the plots, which is quite helpful for those who are new to Shakespeare.
The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (Arthur Conan Doyle)
A lot before Robert Downey Jr. played him in the movies, Sherlock Holmes was already cool. Despite the fact that this collection of stories was published more than a century ago, mysteries have a timeless quality: intrigue does not fade with time. Perhaps the most entertaining of these books, Sherlock Holmes isn’t the most significant.
Pride and Prejudice / Emma (Jane Austen)
If Jane Austen were a more verbose Bridgerton, wouldn’t she merely be a more tedious Bridgerton? What’s going on here? What on earth is going on? And yes, Jane Austen’s writings may be overwhelming and almost bland when viewed through a contemporary lens. Reading Austen’s writings, on the other hand, is like peering through a peephole into the Regency era to see how ludicrous some of the social mores were. We recommend starting with either Pride and Prejudice or Emma if you’re new to Austen.
The Communist Manifesto (Karl Marx)
The inclusion of this does not constitute an endorsement of communism, so let us be clear about that. Accordingly, the Communist Manifesto has been one of the most important works of literature in the last few centuries. It was written by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels and inspired a movement and idea that would take over half of Europe within a century of its 1848 publication date. If you’re eager for reading hundreds of pages of 19th century economics, you can also get Marx’s Capital for free, which is a lot easier to read.
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (Mark Twain)
Catcher in the Rye, Moby Dick, and To Kill a Mockingbird are all considered “the great American novels.” The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, on the other hand, has the strongest claim to the title. One of America’s greatest humorists, Twain has been hailed as one of the greatest authors of all time. The most well-known of his works, Huckleberry Finn, is a must-read for anybody interested in American literature.
Moby Dick (Herman Melville)
Free online reading options for American classics do not end with Huck Finn. It was Moby Dick who coined both the name “white whale” and one of the most memorable opening lines in literature. Despite its age—the book was first published in 1848—the book is still a mainstay of “books you should read” lists.
The Federalist Papers (Alexander Hamilton)
As a history class, you may have found this material tedious, but thanks to Hamilton, it’s been given a whole new lease of life. Essays written by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay (but especially Hamilton) in support of the United States Constitution and a more centralized government are known as “The Federalist Papers.” These will be boring to most people, but devoted fans of the musical Hamilton will appreciate the context.
War and Peace (Leo Tolstoy)
For the finale, we’ve kept the most important for last. As a result, the name “War and Peace” has become a signpost for intimidatingly huge works. And there’s no denying that War and Peace is a lengthy read. A side benefit of reading this book is that you’ll become more familiar with “the lion of Russian literature.” Apple Books has it free if you’re up for the challenge.