This week, there are celebrations around the world to commemorate the 200th birthday of Charles Dickens, one of the most notable authors in literary history. Most, if not all of Dickens’ novels are available on the Kindle for free.
A Christmas Carol is probably the most well known Dickens masterpiece because it is often read at Christmas and is a popular play. It has also been adapted for film multiple times over the past 50 years. All of his other works have also have been adapted for theatre productions.
I had to read Hard Times and Great Expectations in high school and college, but I never really got to know the background behind the writing. If I ever do decide to tackle them again, I want to explore the inspiration that contributed to the development of the characters. When you are in high school, reading classics always seems like such a chore.
Dickens faced a lot of adversity in his younger years. His father spent time in prison because of debt. Dickens had to quit school and work in a shoe factory. The hardships that Dickens experienced were manifested in his writing. Many of his characters are children who face some sort of obstacle.
Think of Oliver Twist, who begged for more food and got reprimanded for asking. Food that was barely more than slop at that. There are so many important lessons woven through each story. Hard Times reveals a world based only on facts. Also notice the irony of the names in the book. The characters’ names are often the opposite of their personalities. Anything outside linear thinking is unaccepted. Ebenezer Scrooge gets visits from the supernatural who remind him the true meaning of Christmas and the spirit of giving.
Charles Dickens made a profound effect on the literary world during his short life. He died of a stroke at the age of 58. Even if you hated his novels during school, you might find that you get a lot more out of them as an adult. Charles Dickens’ books, as well as many other classics, are all free on the Kindle and Kindle supported devices.
Meanwhile, I need to go tackle A Tale of Two Cities and David Copperfield. Surprisingly enough, I never had to read them in school. It is always good to at least have some knowledge of the major classics because it is rare for literature to stand the test of time like his novels have.
There are many options on where to find free Kindle books. Amazon has dedicated a page to list all of the options. The only catch is that you really have to be diligent about tracking the special promotions. They disappear quickly.
First off, the Kindle Store has limited time promotions on different books. I’ve found some good ones through the Top 100 Free Kindle books list. This list is updated hourly, so if you see one you like, grab it immediately. the list includes popular free games such as Pixel Perfect Holiday Puzzles.
The free books offered by the Kindle Store are mostly romantic or religious themed. But, if you take some time to look through the list, you can find some books with a good storyline. It is a great opportunity to explore new authors who don’t get the recognition from the big name publishers.
Pre 1923 classics can be found in a variety of places. Project Gutenberg is one of the original sources for free e-books. It currently has a collection that includes roughly 30,000 titles. You can download the books to your Kindle via USB.
Amazon’s free book page provides links to Project Gutenberg, as well as other internet based e-books. Open Library, ManyBooks.net, and Internet Archive offer up to millions of titles. For web based e-books and limited previews, check out Google books.
Some great programs were launched this Fall: Kindle Library Lending and Kindle Owner’s Library Lending. Kindle Library Lending is available in 11,000 and counting libraries across the US. Most libraries have a widget somewhere on their website that directs you to their Kindle books available through OverDrive. My local public library just added Kindle Library Lending, and it offers a mix up new and old books. There is already a waiting list on many of them.
Amazon Prime members can access the Kindle Owner’s Lending Library. It is a Netflix for books type deal. You can only check out one book a month, but it doesn’t have a due date. The library includes over 5000 books. Lots of bestsellers in the collection. One thing to note is that you have to download the book directly from your Kindle direction instead of on Amazon’s website.
So, to sum it up, there are tons of free e-book options available for all of the Kindles. The great thing about the free classics is that you can use them for school. The physical books are not that expensive, but with a lot of them it can add up. Free is always good!
I’m hoping that if I wait long enough, the Steve Jobs biography and other major bestsellers will be available for lending. But, that will probably be awhile.
I’ve read a few of Barbara Freethy’s romance novels, and have really enjoyed them because they have storylines that tend to have more depth than your basic, trashy romance novel.
Just the Way You Are is about two sisters: Tessa and Alli. Alli seduces Tessa’s boyfriend, Sam Tucker and that leads to a surprise pregnancy and a troubled marriage.
In sibling relationships, there is often one sibling that is super successful. That sibling may have the good looks, an amazing job, and the husband or significant other that everyone else would die to have. Alli lives in the shadow of Tessa, who is a supermodel. So, this book examines the dynamic of sibling relationships.
The unifying symbol in Just the Way You Are is a pearl necklace that Alli and Tessa’s grandmother, Phoebe started with her husband. After Phoebe has a stroke, Alli and Tessa come together to find the last pearl in the necklace. The pearl necklace represents the love their grandparents have, and it helps heal the wounds from the past.
Just the Way You Are will probably not be on the list of free Kindle books very long. Right now it is #1 on the Top 100 list. So, if I were you, I’d grab it soon before it goes off the free list.
If you’re into sweet romance novels and beach reads, other authors similar to Freethy are Debbie Macomber, Susan Wiggs, and Barbara Delinsky. There are more that you’ll find listed as suggestions when you look up these authors. Most of their Kindle books are pretty cheap. They’re not always just about romance. They explore other types of relationships as well.
After going over the reviews, I saw that several reviewers mentioned how real the characters seemed. I love it when authors create stories that let you escape into the characters’ lives and forget that they aren’t real people.
“The best romance novels are the ones that do not follow formula (at least in every aspect). Barbara Freethy has always been good at making her characters a little more realistic and a little less cookie-cutter. It is a great relief to find someone who does. This story is very well done. None of the characters is a saint, all have insecurities and doubts, and each is very flawed.”
“I always enjoy Barbara Freethy’s style of writing before. She always manages to create characters that real, who are not flawless, and fill with insecurities — which make them real human. And the new novel “Just The Way You Are” impresses me just like others.”
One of the biggest advantages of something like a Kindle is supposed to be the amazing savings that one can expect from owning such a device. Books should be cheaper, according to the vision that many had of what eReading was going to be. Obviously we have not quite realized that dream, with publishers keeping eBooks at prices similar to hardcover books, but all is not lost! There are hundreds of authors releasing free or nearly free books every day through the Kindle Direct Publishing system. So many, in fact, that it is all but impossible to even keep up with a list, let alone read them all. There are plenty of established successes to draw on even now, though, while I try to come up with a decent list of newer authors to pass along to you. (I would welcome suggestions at [email protected])
The often overlooked, or at least undervalued, source of cheap literature is older titles that have fallen out of copyright. Sometimes they’ve fallen very far out of copyright. For a while, it was pretty obnoxious to even try looking through these books in the Kindle Store since anybody who felt like going through the effort could post their own copy in hopes of making a few dollars. In the past several months they have made a major effort to clean things up and remove duplicate copies. It’s a mixed blessing since some of the approved ones remaining seem to be bad OCR copies rather than something a person has actually looked over, but suddenly it is a lot easier to find interesting things to read.
Now, a lot of people definitely seem to think that the so-called ‘classics’ are by definition dry and hard to get through. I certainly wouldn’t recommend Bleak House to a Harlequin fan, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t plenty of perfectly approachable titles out there to take a look at. Here’s a few that I hope you’ll find enjoyable. Not all are free, mainly in cases where free copies were poorly formatted to the point of being hard to read, but all are under $3.
She by H. Rider Haggard
You’ve got an ancient family mystery dating back thousands of years, a secret society hidden in the heart of the unknown, supernatural powers, and near immortality. This would be an amazing movie, if only the reaction to certain scenes involving the treatment of death wouldn’t be so extreme.
The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas
Everybody knows the broad outlines of the story, from movies if nothing else, but you miss a lot without reading the book. Some of the most hilariously flawed ‘heroes’ that you are ever likely to read about. You may be surprised by how off base your expectations are, if you’ve never read it before
Sherlock Holmes Collection by Arthur Conan Doyle
Another selection that a surprising number of people have never given a chance to. This particular collection contains all four of the novels and 46 short stories, which I believe make up the whole out-of-copyright collection. It’s been said that what fascinates people about Holmes is not the process he uses, but how much fun it is to watch him do it. Give it a try for yourself.
The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins
This book is a great suspense/mystery book with just a little bit of the fantastic thrown in. It is really a fun time overall and has quite possibly the best villain ever(who was, coincidentally, modeled physically on the author himself according to many accounts!) This one would be worth it for that character alone.
Lately, I can’t help myself but notice a new emerging movement of free e-books haters. Mind you, I’m not talking about the pirated free e-books haters. That emotional response to copyright infringement is congruent. I mean a group of people, who dislikes the fact that:
1) free e-books exist;
2) free e-books are popular among readers.
Where do I see these people? Well, they tend to hang out around Kindle-related websites leaving vehement anti-free e-books comments here and there. You probably know what I’m talking about.
To my astonishment, I discovered a common trait among the free e-book haters (how about I just call them FEH): they tend to be authors themselves. So, why would the wise writers be so against the fact that their fellow writer decided to offer his/hers work for free?
It appears that FEH perceive readers as ungrateful, evil crocodiles who only want to consume free stuff and never pay for the literary labor. Well, that’s just silly! A thankful reader, who enjoyed a freebie will always go looking for more books by the author he/she enjoyed.
So, I have a theory. You see, FEH usually are recently sprouted authors with one e-published work, with some useless subject matter, say How to Choose Your Paper Mate Pen Wisely: a Very Thorough Guide (sponsored by Paper Mate). So, if they put their sole literary child out there for free, then how would they make their first billion? And that’s how we get “Free e-books spoil people! Let’s close all the public libraries!” (© imaginary FEH).
Of course, this theory relies on a completely hypothetical situation, which is most likely absurdly inaccurate. However, the point is that Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) influenced publishing towards making it more accessible. As a result, the modern literary world not only expanded, but also became more commercialized. There are many emerging authors, who write not for the love of writing, but for the chance to “win” a lottery in publishing business. And the concept of free books is just standing in their way.
I hope I’m wrong about it. Although, if I’m somewhere close to the truth – dear FEH, your chances to make a fortune on a useless guide will come true only in case if a million of e-book shoppers will stumble and fall on “buy this guide” button. Or, it might be one unfortunate shopper – stumbling and falling a million times. Perhaps, you might need to reconsider changing a profession from a pure business person to a business person, who writes well. And very possibly, the hostility toward free e-books will somewhat diminish in its proportions.
– one (e-)book(/guide) author
If you’ve been in relationship with your Kindle for a while now, then there is nothing new for you in this post. If you are new to the whole e-books searching process, then I will be proud to present you the best source for free e-books available on the internet.
Basically, the biggest chunk of free Kindle e-books is resting on the backs of two elephants: the aforementioned Amazon’s free e-book collection and Gutenberg project.
Gutenberg is the most gorgeous e-book project I have seen so far. It is almost twice as large as Amazon Classics. There is no registration needed for downloading e-books. There are no flashing and eye-irritating advertisements (compared to other free e-book libraries). Gutenberg e-books are available in Kindle-friendly .MOBI format; and usually, there is an option, whether you want to download a book with or without images.
Aside from the enormous collection of classics, Gutenberg has an impressive collection of books in foreign languages – Spanish, Greek, Latin, Russian, German, French, Japanese etc. Maybe I will finally fulfill my dream to read Don Quijote in the original.
It has the majority of well-known old texts, so if you are a History student – you will always be able to find some works of such authors like Herodotus, Thucydides, Plutarch etc.
The universal problem with the quality of free e-books does not escape Gutenberg. Most books are converted in MOBI format automatically, so there is no guarantee that the e-book will look perfectly on your Kindle.
Forgotten Books was recommended to me by a reader, Glynn, who, I’m guessing, is affiliated with this company. Forgotten Books is an independent publishing company focused on reviving old print.
To tell the truth, I do not really like what Forgotten Books is doing with their free e-books feature. And the reason being – their free e-books are in low quality .PDF format. To attain a copy of a high-quality .PDF, a person has to pay a membership fee. I have hard time understanding, why Forgotten Books are trying to charge for better quality .PDFs for the books that are free from copyright and generally available online for no cost.
Although, they do have this e-book of the day for free feature – if you sign up for their subscription, you can download their book of the day in good quality .PDF for your Kindle for free. Today’s book of the day is actually the reason, why I changed my mind and decided to write about this source. Today’s book of the day is Folk Tales From the Russian by Verra Xenophontovna Kalamatiano de Blumenthal (first published in 1903). The Tsarevna Frog, Father Frost, Baba Yaga and other awesome fellows! This book is also available on Google Books (in .EPub and .PDF) and on Surlalunefairytales (online only) for free. Also, it is available on Amazon for $1.75. Russian Folklore tales are wickedly good. I sincerely encourage you looking into them.
So, I signed up for the subscription and downloaded Folk Tales From the Russian from Forgotten Books. I have to say that putting a line through the e-book is very uncool of you, Forgotten Books. Google Books’ version of this book is way better quality.
Perhaps, Forgotten Books’ other books of the day will be as cool as today’s. And I hope they will improve their not-so-reasonable-for-now free e-book offers.
As I was reading Muriel Barbery’s The Elegance of the Hedgehog (which I quite enjoyed, by the way), I could not help myself but notice that the author emblematizes intelligence and erudition in one particular author, Leo Tolstoy. I found it a little amusing and curious – in order to demonstrate the concierge’s intellectuality, Barbery keeps mentioning Tolstoy as her favorite author. The hilarious part, of course, is that she names her cat Leo and that is supposedly what highly intelligent people do. Tolstoy, in fact, becomes the reason why the concierge befriends one of the wealthy and highly educated residents, Mr. Ozu. He is also a fan of Tolstoy, and also gives his cats Tolstoy-related names – Kitty and Levin, from Anna Karenina (which by the way, is free in Kindle edition). And do not question his intelligence! Of course, he is a bookworm – he read Tolstoy!
It is not the first time, when I see Tolstoy’s name being dropped here and there as a symbol of individual’s high education. I do not want to dwell upon the thought, whether I agree or disagree with such choice of symbol for erudition. However, Tolstoy’s novels do look intimidating just by looking at the size of the paperback, and even worse – hardcover books. I remember, when I was reading War and Peace, I think, I developed an unusual group of muscles – right around my wrists, just by holding the heavy tome of War and Peace. Also, snuggling with such book in bed is not as comfortable due to the weight of the volumes. And I’m not even going to begin discussing the pains of carrying such book around and reading it in public transportation or in the office, while you wait for the appointment. I mean, it’s not only that you look hilarious behind a gigantic book – almost like Harry Potter behind an encyclopedia of magic spells. It’s just simply impossible to carry such enormous weight around.
The beauty with Kindle is the readily available collections of Tolstoy’s novels for sale. And, also one would not feel intimidated by the ginormous size of Tolstoy’s books. If you considered reading Tolstoy, went to the bookstore, flipped through the pages and ran away scared of the amount of pages, then seriously consider giving Tolstoy another chance – try reading his works in Kindle. Yes, you can still see how many pages there are. However, the beauty with e-books is that they conceal the intimidating part – the physicality of big volumes. You start reading, get into the plot, and you would not even notice until you are through with the novel. War and Peace around is priceless.
Joseph Conrad is famous not only for his works adapted into well-known films such as Apocalypse Now and Sabotage; he also stands out as he was a Polish-born novelist who learned to speak English fluently in his twenties and then wrote in English, too. Many books are available now in Kindle edition, some of them for free.
Heart of Darkness first appeared as a series in Blackwood’s Magazine in 1899 and was published as a novella in 1902. It was partially based on Conrad’s experiences in the Congo as he served as a steamer captain. Though the book is famous on its own, Francis Ford Coppola made it even more well-known, having adapted the novella into Apocalypse Now changing the Congo to Vietnam and Cambodia during the Vietnam War. “Assigned by an ivory company to take command of a cargo boat stranded in the interior, Marlow makes his way through the treacherous forest, witnessing the brutalization of the natives by white traders and hearing tantalizing stories of a Mr. Kurtz, the company’s most successful representative.”
The Secret Agent: A Simple Tale (published in 1907) is set around the life of Mr. Verloc, a London businessman and spy. The book is different from other Conrad’s works as it does not deal with the usual seafaring themes; instead, it is considered a political novel since it describes revolutionary groups and anarchists. Alfred Hitchcock had adapted the book for his movie Sabotage released in 1936. “This absurdist story is noted for its adept characterizations, melodramatic irony, and psychological intrigue.”
Lord Jim (published in 1899-1900 in Blackwood’s Magazine) is believed to be based on true facts, though Joseph Conrad never admitted that openly. As a ship with pilgrims travelling to Mecca is about to sink, the crew members abandon the vessel and the passengers. Having faced the court for this crime, the first mate Jim redeems his guilt in a remote settlement in the Indonesian archipelago. “The novel, which explores the nature of the human spirit, is a delicately crafted picture of a character who reaches the status of literary hero.” The book was twice adapted into movies: by Victor Fleming in 1925 and by Richard Brooks in 1965.
Joseph Conrad on Kindle
If you are already a fan of urban fantasy or would like to get to know this genre, you may well start with The Wild’s Call, which is offered for free on Amazon, compliments of Luna. “It is seven years after the collapse of modern civilization, and the world is entering a new Dark Age. Can best friends Elysia and Darien trust the animal spirits that are beckoning them to escape into the wilderness and create a new way of life?” The book is a prequel to Jeri Smith-Ready’s Aspect of Crow trilogy, including Eyes of Crow, Voice of Crow and The Reawakened, the first two available in kindle edition.
Until the end of March you may also get a free download of Laura Lippman’s short mystery story The Babysitter’s Code. A babysitter finds a gun in the house where she is working, and that makes it difficult for her to stay within the babysitter’s code. If you like it, take a look at Lippman’s short story collection, Hardly Knew Her, “…filled with delightfully unanticipated twists and reversals…”