I always loved books, and as a kid, I always loved summer reading. After 4th grade, we were asked to read 5 books over the summer before 5th grade. I still remember climbing the steps into the Bookmobile parked at our school to select the books I wanted to read.
I don’t remember the last four of them, but I do remember the first: The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman. That book sparked my interest in the fantasy genre. I clearly remember being gripped by the eerie world of Lyra. I went on to read the rest of the books in the series as they were published, and I am sure I would enjoy them just as much today.
School is out, but I still love summer reading. Sitting on the beach in the hot sun, with nowhere else to go and nothing else to do, just invites me to pick up a book and read.
But times have changed. Physical books have been replaced by audiobooks and ebooks. Oh, and we have entered the era of corona. Money is tight. People are looking for free options in everything.
I’ll be honest, I still prefer the pages of a physical book. Although it’s tough financially, I just “splurged” on two used paperbacks for my summer reading: Awaken the Giant Within by Tony Robbins and This is Marketing by Seth Godin. (Stay tuned, because I will review them here on the blog for my proofreading series, A Casual Reading.)
But not everyone has money to spend on books right now (gasp!) and not everyone is looking for a physical product. If that’s you, then free online ebooks might just fit the bill.
I did a little research and found some great online resources if you’re in the market for some free ebooks. Happy reading!
The Library of Congress
What’s that? The Library of Congress, you say? Yes—they do have books available for free! They are an actual library, after all.
In fact, the Library of Congress is the largest in the world (you thought it was Powell’s, didn’t you?) and is the official research library of Congress. So, when our elected officials need information, instead of searching on Google, they go straight to the Library of Congress… right? Right???
Well, I don’t know if they actually do, but the Library of Congress is pretty cool nonetheless. Their resource of Classics has mostly “kids’” books, but teens and adults can find cool books here, too. When was the last time you read Aesop’s Fables, or The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn? Oldies but goodies.
If you can get past the website’s outdated but admittedly on-brand aesthetic, you’ll find over 60,000 titles! Something to note about these titles is that they were all published prior to 1925; you won’t find newer titles that are still protected by copyright laws. The reason that Project Gutenberg is free to use is that they store only works whose copyrights have expired and have therefore entered into the public domain.
This website is named, of course, after the first printing press which was responsible for mass publishing and an uptick in global literacy, when previously the rate was at only 30 percent—today it’s at over 85 percent! What a gift, truly.
Open Library is actually a virtual library where you can “borrow” ebooks. You can even download them in a variety of formats. Just sign up for a free account and start browsing for your summer read! They even have textbooks for back-to-school as well as titles in languages other than English.
Like Open Library, Many Books is an online library. You can browse genres from the homepage and download ebooks instantly. With titles like Unscrambled Eggs and Penal Methods of the Middle Ages, how can you resist?!
I jest. I actually saw those titles available, but I also saw ones by Ernest Hemingway, Darwin, Dickens, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Oscar Wilde, and many more.
Google Play Books
The giant has a bookshelf of free ebooks. There are varying degrees of quality on here. On a desktop you can simply view the pages in the book (at least you can in a Chrome browser). To read the ebooks on another device, you need to download the free Google Play app.
The other giant regularly offers a selection of free ebooks. Some of them are always free; others are a special free offer for a limited time. Just search “free ebooks” in the Kindle Store, or use this handy link.
Remember, the caveat with Amazon is that you have to own a Kindle to be able to download and read these ebooks, which are all in Kindle format. So, they are technically free, but only after the purchase of Amazon’s reading tablet.
What’s on your summer reading list?
I hope you found this list of resources helpful in your search for free ebooks. Whether you like the classics, romance, nonfiction, children’s books, or world literature, there is something for everyone’s summer reading list on these great free websites!
What will you read this summer?
As always, if you are looking to self-publish (because many of these sites will host your self-published ebook), consider hiring a professional proofreader to eliminate your typos and grammar mistakes!