Reading classic works of fiction is one of life’s great pleasures. And for true bibliophiles, it’s a pleasure that can rapidly deplete your bank account.
Fortunately, copyright laws being what they are, there’s a gold mine of classics that have outlasted their authors just long enough to be downloaded completely free of charge. So if you want to read more books without spending any money, this list is made for you.
There’s a treasure trove of free, out-of-copyright books available on Amazon.com to download to your Kindle right now. Here are our recommendations…
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Alice eagerly delves into a rabbit hole of imagination, meeting some of the quirkiest characters in literature, from the Mad Hatter to the Queen of Hearts. This is Carroll’s parody of Victorian society, and the complications of children growing up.
Be transported back to the Mississippi towns of Twain’s own childhood. The exciting adventures of Tom Sawyer are full of nostalgia for an innocent childhood, mixed with the tension of a worldly reality of poverty, superstition, and slavery.
Barrie’s imagination has brought joy to millions of children around the world. Her tales of the boy who never grew up, Captain Hook, the Lost Boys, and, of course, Wendy, offer a perfect world in which to escape to.
When Lemuel Gulliver is cast adrift, he has to fight for his survival against a number of groups of strange and surreal societies. These societies are Swift holding a mirror up to ourselves, our own principles and values, and our own crude behaviors.
An instantly popular novel showcasing the dark underbelly of 19th century Paris. Hugo makes clear his criticisms of the French political system throughout this dense web of larger-than-life characters and plot twists.
This tragi-comic novel was the novel Dickens’ was most proud of. This is a story of a lowly peasant on a mission to become a successful novelist, passing through the lives of innumerable fascinating characters on the way.
A renowned Gothic horror, in which Stoker sets the benchmark for what vampires should be for modern authors. This is a tale of Count Dracula’s migration from Transylvania to England, in search of fresh blood.
Based on London’s philosophy about life’s struggles and nature’s power, The Call of The Wild is an enduring masterpiece. Follow Buck, the central canine character, on his journey from luxury to slavery as he is passed between masters to endure conditions he could never have imagined.
Written over 2000 years ago, The Iliad is one of the greatest war stories ever told. Through this sprawling epic, Greek mythology is interwoven with intense character development, as the Greeks make a final attack on Troy.
This dark, exciting allegory tells the story of seaman Marlow as he searches through the heart of Africa for the infamous ivory trader, Kurtz. Shining a glaring light on how Western civilization gained its power, this short novel forces us to question our values and principles in a fundamental way.
Known as being the “first modern novel”, this is an experimental tale of the adventures and misadventures of knight-errant Don Quixote and his squire. Influential to hoards of great writers, this 1000-page novel is well worth the effort.
Shipwrecked on an uninhabited island, Robinson Crusoe must learn to survive, with just his pipe, tobacco, and knife as tools. This is more than just a survival tale, with contemplation (and a Christian message) at the center.
The subject of this original English novel is the intense love between Heathcliff and Catherine Earnshaw. Unfortunately, that love is far from simple, destroying not just the lovers, but also those close to them.
Set in World War I, this is an espionage thriller that’s unremittingly popular. From boredom in London, to hiding from the Germans in Scotland, this is a tale loved so much that it’s been adapted to film many times over.
A deep exploration into the human mind, and faith, Captain Ahab is on a quest against an allusive, terrifying creature. Packed with metaphors about life and society, this is a book that truly stands the test of time.
Dorian Gray sells his soul so that his portrait will age, rather than himself. Free to act in as many sinful and hedonistic ways as possible, the only way Dorian can see the state of his soul, is to gather the courage to make eye contact with that fateful painting.
As life is given to the lifeless, a cautionary tale is told of the “progress” of science. Frankenstein is a being created from stolen body parts. A being that rapidly descends from innocence to evil to enact violent revenge on his creator.
Much more than a novel, this is an allegory of the American Dream. You’ll be transported to the decadent Jazz age of 1920s America as Jay Gatsby does all he can to win the affections of Daisy Buchanan.
This is the novel that introduces you to the first ever heroine of American literature: Hester Prynne, as she struggles with an illegitimate birth. It’s this birth that causes two sides of Hester’s self to clash, provoking a fascinating look at the relation one has with oneself.
This hilarious story of (you guessed it) three men in a boat is full of quips that’ll leave you in stitches, even today. What’s meant to be an enjoyable jaunt up the River Thames soon turns into a series of comic misadventures.
A dystopian novella from 1895, this isn’t just the novel that popularized the idea of time travel. It also earned H.G. Wells the title of “The Father of Science Fiction”. This book is a must for any sci-fi geek.
Follow the misadventures of Phileas Fogg after he bets a friend that he can travel around the world in 80 days or less by any means possible (including elephant). This fast-paced voyage has gripped readers ever since the book was first published in 1872.
This Gothic horror is known as one of the most original pieces of fiction ever written. A potion developed by Dr. Jekyll serves to transform the polite gentleman into something twisted and sinister. Something perhaps resembling the real self of Dr Jekyll?
Taking inspiration from Charles Darwin’s theory of Evolution, this is a dystopian view of a future world. A future world where subterranean populations show an imaginary future where technological progress and physical perfection are raised above all else.
This mysterious island, home to prehistoric creatures, hasn’t only inspired readers’ imaginations since 1912. It’s also the direct inspiration for the Jurassic Park movies. In a location that evolution has barely touched, follow journalist Malone and Professor Challenger as they explore this untouched land.
And if you have already read all of these books, there is another option to consider. For the more voracious reader, taking on Charles W. Eliot’s daunting reading challenge could be the perfect life mission. His 50 volumes of out-of-copyright non-fiction, and 20 volumes of fiction, could mean you never have to spend another cent on books.
There’s a reason these novels and novellas have stood the test of time. Many are more than just stories. They are reflections of our own selves, or an indictment of times past. They offer allegories and metaphors that resonate through generations, and should therefore not be ignored.
So, which of these books will you add to your Kindle collection first? Or do you have another classic novel to add to the list? Please let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.