Dying to try reading with technology, but are either skeptical of, or not ready to outlay the cash, for the new e-readers? Maybe you’re just too broke to buy a book right now and your fines at the local library got out of control. What is a reading addict to do? Have no fear! It’s possible to read books on-line—for free!
I came down with a massive illness when I had 42 books checked out from the local library (and owed what seemed like the amount of my rent in fines)! I read so quickly that buying a book on my budget is out of the question right now so I was thrilled to find there are books you can read on-line at no cost. Believe it or not, really good books! So, here are some of my personal favorites that I’ve come across. Since links and places change constantly, I’ve left those out, and tried to only include works that I easily found on more than one site. Entering the title of the book with the phrase “free online book” will bring up at least one place to find these works. This list is heavy on earlier classic works, as those are in open domain and are more likely to be put online, but feel free to explore on your own. You might find that a gem from your favorite author is available.
A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. This is a wonderful introduction to reading on a screen for those who are unsure about reading this way. The length is manageable to get through so, even if you do decide that you do not like to read books in this manner, you can probably get through the story in that medium. Plus, if it turns out to be a great experience, you will have opened a whole new avenue for your bookworm side. I have loved Dickens, but stayed away from this title like the plague because of all the horrible things I have seen done with this story. At one point, it seemed like every sitcom was obligated to do a spoof of this during the holiday season. I finally gave in, and upon reading it was more than pleasantly surprised. Everyone probably knows the main story by know, but the amazing subtleties and iconic characters Dickens weaves here shows there is a reason people have been compelled to perpetuate the story. Ignore all the derivations and treat yourself to the original story. Highly recommended.
1984 by George Orwell. This is an absolute classic. Reading this online is almost a surreal experience, as Orwell is describing a future society. Things you take for granted (such as reading books online) were completely out of the realm of reality during the time it was written. This is a timeless book that describes a cautionary tale and the iconic fictional work that illustrates issues of social psychology that had not even come to light when it was written. Even if you do not care about that angle, it is a gripping tale.
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. This is one of my all-time favorite books. If you have not read it, you need to read it. If you have read it, you are probably due for a re-read. Then you can rent the movie; one of the few that actually stands up to the book.
Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus, by Mary Shelley. If all you know of Frankenstein is the stereotypes of the bolts in the side of the head, and you think Frankenstein is the name of the monster, you must read this novel. Amazingly brilliant at dissecting how people have preconceptions without beating you over the head with it, this book should be on everyone’s must-read list. Touching on so many ethical subjects without going into preaching is an amazing feat. With today’s society looking at genetic engineering and other subjects, this book was, in many ways, ahead of its time. It’s less a story about a monster than it is about humanity.
The Art of War by Sun Tzu. This is an ancient Chinese War Treatise that has found its way into corporate trainings as a way to deal with business opponents in modern-day life. It is a fascinating read for those interested in war, Asian history or human psychology; it is a necessary read for someone involved in business, because at some point you are bound to run up against someone who took a seminar based on the philosophy within this book. Knowing what you are up against is vital if you want to come out ahead of the game.
Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy. This is in the big-league! When you are ready to see if you can read a sweeping novel of epic proportions, this is the one to make or break it. Russian literature is difficult to keep track of because of the similar names and usage of nicknames. Most Russian authors wrote for the Russian audience and assumed that the reader would understand the intricacies of Russian naming. However, if you can get through this, and are willing to click back to the pages with the character explanations and take time to figure out what nickname refers to whom, there is rich reward. It is so filled with passion and relationships that it feels like an incredible guilty pleasure, yet you can be assured you are reading classic literature. It doesn’t get any better than that. Russian literature generally has a quality that tugs at the ache of the soul. Once you feel it, you need more.
Reading online is something that I hope never replaces the feel of an old book, but I have learned to love it. At night, with the glow of the screen, it evokes reading books under the covers late at night so my parents would not catch me. I invite you to dive in by exploring my suggestions, and find your own online favorites.