These days there are plenty of free books online to read. But the vast majority of them are the public domain titles that used to put you to sleep back in high school. As a lifelong book lover and former English major, I have read a lot of the classics. While some will certainly have you yawning, there are other books in the public domain that are wonderfully exciting and well worth your time. Here are 10 non-boring classic books that you can read online for free
The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexander Dumas
After being arrested for a crime he didn’t commit, Edmond Antes is imprisoned for years and tortured. Then he learns of a treasure hidden on the Isle of Monte Cristo and creates a plan to escape and get revenge on the three men responsible for his imprisonment.
This 1884 adventure has it all: war, romance, vengeance, and more. After Edmond Antes is wrongfully imprisoned, you will follow him anywhere as he plots his revenge. Antes also spends some time as a pirate. What more could you want?
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
When wealthy bachelor Mr. Bingley arrives, Mrs. Bennet dearly hopes that he will marry one of her five daughters. But when Elizabeth Bennett meets Bingley’s even wealthier friend Mr. Darcy, they immediately clash.
Considering the limitations placed on women in 1813 when this book was first published, it’s shockingly refreshing to see a heroine as bright and witty as Elizabeth Bennet. This popular novel has spawned several adaptations including a miniseries in 1995 and the gorgeous 2005 film.
Where you can read this book online for free: Project Gutenberg, JaneAusten.org, Google Books, Internet Archive, American Literature, The Literature Page, ManyBooks, PublicBookshelf, ReadCentral, Standard eBooks, Planet eBook
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
When Alice sees a white rabbit take a watch out of his waistcoat, she makes the choice to follow him. From there she tumbles headfirst down a rabbit hole and into a topsy-turvy world of whimsy.
Though this work was written for children, it is still immensely enjoyable to read as an adult. One can’t help but admire the scope of Lewis Carroll’s imagination as you follow Alice from one absurd flight of fancy to the next.
Where you can read this book online for free: Project Gutenberg, Google Books, Internet Archive, Library of Congress, American Literature, The Literature Page, ManyBooks, ReadCentral, Standard eBooks, Planet eBook
Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf
This novel paints a portrait of a single day in Clarissa Dalloway’s life. As she prepares for a party that evening, her internal thoughts and memories show her to be much more complicated than simply the perfect hostess.
Being told in a stream-of-consciousness style, Mrs. Dalloway is a book that requires some patience. But if you persevere, you will be rewarded with some truly fantastic writing and absolutely fascinating characters.
Frankenstein, or, The Modern Prometheus by Mary Shelley
Victor Frankenstein is obsessed with creating life and plunders graveyards for material to fashion a creature which he shocks to life with electricity. But then Frankenstein rejects his botched creature and the monster sets out to destroy his maker and all he holds dear.
It’s hard to believe that Mary Shelley was only eighteen years old when she came up with the idea for one of the most iconic pieces of horror fiction of all time. The novel is a lot quieter than any film adaptation based on it and really makes you question who the real villain of the story is.
A Midsummer Night’s Dream by William Shakespeare
Demetrius and Lysander are both in love with Hermia but she only has eyes for Lysander, while Helena loves Demetrius. In the forest Puck, the faerie king’s chief mischief-maker, runs loose with a flower which causes people to become enamored of the first thing they see upon waking.
When thinking of Shakespeare, boring tragedies may come to mind. But he wrote many comedies as well, and A Midsummer Night’s Dream is one of his funniest and most readable plays.
Where you can read this book online for free: Project Gutenberg, Shakespeare.MIT.edu, Shakespeare.Foldger.edu, OpenSourceShakespeare, Google Books, Internet Archive, American Literature, The Literature Page, Standard eBooks
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë
Orphan Jane has always felt like an outcast and her courage is tested once again when she is sent to Thornfield Hall to care for the young ward of brooding Mr. Rochester. She finds herself falling in love with Mr. Rochester but based on his strange behavior, worries what he might be hiding from her.
Though it was first published in 1847, this novel features a strong female protagonist who will instantly feel like a friend as you read. Jane experiences true sorrow and joy on her journey and really grows as a person.
Where you can read this book online for free: Project Gutenberg, Google Books, Internet Archive, American Literature, The Literature Page, ManyBooks, PublicBookshelf, ReadCentral, Standard eBooks, Planet eBook
Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë
Heathcliff is a foundling adopted by Catherine Earnshaw’s father and after Mr. Earnshaw’s death, Heathcliff is bullied and humiliated by Catherine’s brother Hindley. Wrongly believing that his love for Catherine isn’t reciprocated, he leaves Wuthering Heights and returns later a wealthy, polished man bent on revenge.
The Brontës certainly were a talented bunch—Charlotte and Emily’s sister Anne wrote as well. The wild setting and equally wild characters are so well painted in this novel that you won’t be able to help being drawn in
Where you can read this book online for free: Project Gutenberg, Google Books, Internet Archive, American Literature, Page by Page Books, The Literature Page, ManyBooks, PublicBookshelf, ReadCentral, Standard eBooks, Planet eBook
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
When Nick Carraway moves to West Egg, he becomes intrigued by the lavish parties of his next-door neighbor, Jay Gatsby. When he gets an invitation to attend, he learns that he and Gatsby have a friend in common—Nick’s cousin Daisy used to date Gatsby, and now he’s desperate to earn back her affections, despite the fact that she’s now married.
This is a novel that proves that characters don’t have to be likable for a story to be good—they just have to be interesting. It will also leave you wishing that you could ever attend a party as grand as one of Gatsby’s.
Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
Four young sisters—sensible Meg, talented tomboy writer-to-be Jo, sweet-tempered Beth, and precious artist Amy—live in New England during the Civil War. This novel chronicles their struggles and triumphs as they come of age.
Alcott based this book on her own life growing up with her sisters and it’s reflected in how relatable and real each character is. It would be a challenge for anyone to read this book and not find some piece of themselves in its titular little women.
Author’s Bio: Jillian Karger was born in Ohio but has lived in and around New York City for over a decade. Since graduating from NYU in 2009, Jillian has had a long string of jobs doing things like scouting books to be adapted for film and researching trivia questions for “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire”.
She has done freelance writing as well for sites like Cracked.com and had her Twitter jokes featured on BuzzFeed and funnyordie.com. Jillian has also self-published two novels on Amazon (https://www.amazon.com/Jillian-Karger/e/B07B894DNW).
Follow her blog posts about books and writing advice, read books and publish them for free at: https://www.fictionate.me.