If Amazon CEO and founder Jeff Bezos is to be believed, “many millions” of you received a Kindle product as a gift this holiday season. When I unwrapped my brand new Kindle last Christmas, I was itching to go on an e-book shopping bender. It can feel like you have every written word at your fingertips, and you want to read as much of what’s out there as you can. In the early days of Kindle ownership, I got download-happy and made some poor, money-wasting choices because buying books became so easy. If a friend recommended a title over lunch, I’d drop $12 on it on the spot without researching it first, or I’d get impatient and buy a title that someone would end up giving me a few days later.
When my e-book buying habit started getting expensive, I looked to the many free books available in the Kindle Store to feed my hungry reader. Many public domain books are classics, ones that you might want to revisit from school or others that you feel guilty for not having read. Haven’t read Anna Karenina or War and Peace? Now you can’t use the excuse that you don’t want to lug those huge tomes around. I’m ashamed to admit that somehow I’d managed to reach my twenties without having read a Dickens all the way through, so I dutifully made my way through Great Expectations and Bleak House. Even if you don’t plan on actually reading some of these free books (will I actually read my e-copy of Ulysses? Probably not), simply owning them can give you the warm fuzzies. Here are 10 books/authors that won’t cost you a penny in the Kindle store!
Wilkie Collins: Love Dragon Tattoo? This wildly popular Victorian-era novelist was a precursor to the modern detective novelist. His fascinating, densely plotted page-turners often focused on revenge and the plight of women. Download The Moonstone and The Woman in White.
Arthur Conan Doyle: Speaking of great mystery writers, the Sherlock Holmes creator’s works are available for free. Save yourself the price of admission to the Hollywood version and go straight to the source.
Phillip K. Dick: Last year, 11 of the prolific sci-fi master’s works were made part of public domain. Others like Minority Report and A Scanner Darkly aren’t free but will only cost you a dollar or two.
Jane Austen: You’ve probably read and re-read Pride and Prejudice, but check out Emma, Persuasion, and Mansfield Park as well.
The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett: This children’s classic never gets old. Also available for free: Little Women by Louisa May Alcott.
The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton: Office actress Mindy Kaling recently told Shelf Life that this is one of her favorite novels, and it’s easy to see why. This captivating novel about New York society of the very early 20th century feels utterly fresh and surprising today.
Anton Chekhov: Pretty much any short story writer will point to Chekhov as a master of the form. It seems almost wrong that his stories (including the perfect “The Lady with the Dog”) and plays won’t cost you anything.
Dubliners by James Joyce: Okay, so I may not get to Ulysses any time soon, but I read the spectacular story/novella “The Dead” from this collection a couple times a year.
The Innocents Abroad by Mark Twain: His better-known books are available, too, but Twain’s account of his European “grand tour” is still gutbustingly funny.
Fairy tales of Hans Christian Andersen and the Brothers Grimm: These weird, dark classics aren’t for kids — and in today’s pop culture, they’re more relevant than ever.
So I’m only scratching the surface here. Share your free e-book findings below!