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The Best Free Books to Read on Kindle and Apple Books


Free books are fine. Very well.

David Carnoy/CNET

Thanks to the magic of the public domain, there are plenty of books you can read for exactly $0 on both The Amazon Kindle Store and Apple Books. These include readings from Plato to Peter Pan.

Everyone knows Kindle, but Apple Books is a real star here. It has a long list of “books you’re supposed to read”, which is filled with books you can download for free. Many of them are also free on Amazon, but some will cost you a few dollars (or maybe a few cents). If you’re a Kindle Unlimited subscriber, you’ll have many, many more books to read “for free.”

There is a vast and vast world of cheap and free books on these platforms. Here are 17 classics to get you started.

Little Women (Louisa May Alcott)

Little Women was a hit as soon as it was published in 1859 and got its last moment in the sun thanks to the 2019 film adaptation starring Emma Watson. It’s a coming-of-age novel that follows four sisters into womanhood, and it’s been a consistent hit over the past 150 years. Little Women was an acclaimed novel and has been adapted into plays, films, operas and TV shows. You can see what it is for $0.

Download Little Women for free at Apple Books Where Amazon Kindle for $1.63.

Peter Pan (JM Barrie)

Here’s one for parents looking for something to read to their kids, or for Disney enthusiasts who want 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 infamous Captain Hook. A worthy disclaimer: it contains a depiction of Native Americans that is very… 1904.

download peter pan free on Apple Books or for $2.23 on Kindle.

Frankenstein (Mary Shelley)

Like most classics, you may have suffered from Frankenstein during high school English class. We have all been there. It’s enough to dismantle any book in school to keep anyone away from a book, but Frankenstein has always been an exception for me. Not only is Frankenstein considered 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 always laugh at Victor Frankenstein’s whining as he reaps what he sows.

Download Frankenstein free on Amazon Kindle Where free on Apple Books.

The Best Free Books to Read on Kindle and Apple Books

penguin

Dracula (Bram Stocker)

One more for the Goths! If you’re a fan of our undead friends, it’s worth checking out one of the books that started it all. The story is great for those looking for good gothic horror full of suspense. It’s easy to think that Dracula must be another hard-to-read classic, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. The writing holds up really well (after more than 100 years, that’s quite an achievement) and it’s really scary in places.

Download Dracula for free on Apple Books Where for free on Amazon Kindle.

The Republic (Plato)

Greek philosophers are still remembered all these centuries later, which means they are unlikely to go out of style anytime soon. Plato is arguably the most famous Greek philosopher – after Socrates and Aristotle – and The Republic is his most famous work. What is most striking about much (but fortunately perhaps not all) of ancient Greek writing is how relatable it is today.

Reading ancient Greek literature can also help you sound more pretentious at parties, which is good.

Download for free on Amazon Kindle Where free on Apple Books.

Psychology of dreams (Sigmund Freud)

Sigmund Freud is one of those rare specialized academics to break into the spirit of the times. The Oedipus complex, Freudian slips, the id, ego, and superego, and even the phrase “defense mechanism” are all linked to Freud’s works. Unfortunately, much of this work is intensely academic and dense. At just 216 pages, Dream Psychology is one of Freud’s most remarkable works, and it’s also one of the easiest to read.

Download Dream Psychology for free on Apple Books Where $2.91 on Amazon Kindle.

The Metamorphosis (Franz Kafka)

There are plenty of long reads on this list, so here’s a short one. Metamorphosis follows the sudden and inexplicable transformation of a man into an enormous insect, and although it spans less than 100 pages, it has been the subject of rigorous psychological scrutiny and interpretation over the course of of the 116 years since its first publication.

Download for free on Apple Books Where 77 cents on Amazon Kindle.

Hamlet / Romeo and Juliet (Shakespeare)

If you really want to challenge yourself, Shakespeare is the way to go. The language and format might take some getting used to, but it’s very rewarding once you get the hang of it. There’s a play for everyone, for those who like romance, tragedy, comedy or even absolutely crazy fantasy. Hamlet and Romeo and Juliet are among the most famous, so they would be good starting points. Almost everyone knows the stories at least a little – and believe us, familiarity with the plot helps a lot if you’re new to Shakespeare.

Download Romeo and Juliet for free on Apple Books Where for 80 cents on Amazon Kindle.

Download Hamlet for free at Amazon’s Kindle Where free on Apple Books.

The Best Free Books to Read on Kindle and Apple Books

Robert Downey Jr. as Sherlock Holmes.

Warner Bros.

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (Arthur Conan Doyle)

Sherlock Holmes was cool long before Robert Downey Jr. played him on the big screen. This collection of stories was published over 120 years ago, but the mysteries have a timeless quality: the plot doesn’t die with age. Sherlock Holmes might not be the most important book on this list, but it might be the most entertaining.

Download The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes free on Apple Books Where on Amazon Kindle for $2.01.

Pride and Prejudice / Emma (Jane Austen)

We know what you’re thinking: wouldn’t Jane Austen just be more wordy and boring Bridgerton? What are they saying? What even happens? And yes, Jane Austen’s books can seem very intimidating and almost bland when viewed through a modern lens. Reading Austen’s books, however, is like a cheeky window into the past: they parody Regency society and poke fun at the ridiculousness of certain social mores at the time. If you want to get into Austen, we recommend starting with Pride and Prejudice or Emma.

Download Emma for free at Apple Books Where for 87 cents on Amazon Kindle.

Download Pride and Prejudice for free at Apple Books Where $1 on Amazon Kindle.

The Communist Manifesto (Karl Marx)

Let’s say right away that including this is not an endorsement of communism. With that aside, The Communist Manifesto is one of the most influential writings of recent centuries. Written by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, it inspired a movement and a philosophy that would eventually take over half of Europe a century after its 1848 publication date. It’s also much easier to read than the Marx’s much more in-depth work, Capital, but it’s also freely available if you’re willing to read thousands of pages of 19th-century economics.

Download The Communist Manifesto for free on Apple Books Where 78 cents on Amazon Kindle.

The Best Free Books to Read on Kindle and Apple Books

Amazon

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (Mark Twain)

There are several books known as “The Great American Novel” – Catcher in the Rye, Moby Dick and To Kill a Mockingbird among them. But perhaps the novel that most claims the title is The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Twain is considered America’s greatest comedian and one of its most famous authors of all time. Huckleberry Finn is the book he is best known for and it is a must read for anyone wishing to learn about American literature.

Download The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn for free on Apple Books Where $4 on Amazon Kindle.

Moby-Dick (Herman Melville)

Granted, Huck Finn isn’t the only great American novel you can read for free. Moby Dick gave the world the term “white whale”, as well as one of the most famous opening phrases. The book is 170 years old, but it remains a staple on “books you should read” lists everywhere.

Download Moby-Dick for free on Apple Books Where $1 on Amazon Kindle.

Federalist newspapers (Alexander Hamilton)

You may have first experienced them as extremely boring history lesson texts, but the global phenomenon that is Hamilton’s Musical breathed new life into them. The Federalist Papers are a collection of essays by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay (but mostly Hamilton) in which the authors encourage ratification of the US Constitution and also argue for a more centralized state. These will be dry for many, but valid for hardcore fans of the Hamilton musical.

Download The Federalist Papers for free on Apple Books Where for 79 cents on Amazon Kindle.

War and Peace (Leo Tolstoy)

We saved the biggest for last. War and Peace is a monster, so much so that its name has become a cue used to describe works of intimidating size. And make no mistake, War and Peace is a lot to go through. But it will come down to getting acquainted with “the lion of Russian literature”, as the book was called. If you’re up for the challenge, it’s free on Apple Books.

Download War and Peace for free on Apple Books or for 80 cents on Amazon Kindle.

CNET

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