These books are free at the time of listing. This can change, so be sure to check the cost first before you download, although nearly all, if not absolutely all, of these books should be free indefinitely as they are public domain texts without chapter by chapter formatting. (I love to hear from our readers, but I do not love to hear that a book listed here is not free because this tells me you did not read the first sentence of this post and that makes me sad. On the plus side, it might even make me sad enough to eat chocolate, so there is that.)
You do not need a Kindle to take advantage of these offers. You can read them on various free reading apps. I often read mine on my laptop if they are short enough books, even though I have two kindles. That’s because my kids keep taking off with the Kindles to read their school books and they don’t remember to recharge them before returning. I wouldn’t say I’m bitter about it, but I might be a little disgruntled.
If you’re curious, this is the Kindle I have, and I have used others and mine remains my favorite. Mine has Keyboard 3G, Free 3G + Wi-Fi and I don’t have commercial screensavers. The second Kindle is actually one I was given in exchange for some writing work, and I gave it to my two teens. It does not have 3G, which is why it’s their Kindle.
Contrary to my usual custom, I actually have read all of these unless otherwise noted. So should you.=)
Who was Jesus? What did he say? What did he do? This book is all about Jesus. It puts together the story of Jesus’ life and message told by the people who knew him best–his disciples and friends–as recorded in the four Gospels of the Bible. Although the words were written over 2000 years ago, his message of peace, hope, love, and forgiveness still resonates with people of all races, nationalities, educational, and economic backgrounds. Some like what he said, while others disagree, but almost everyone finds him compelling. The story of Jesus comes to us from four different authors, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, written over a period of nearly seventy years. The message and uniqueness of Jesus remain the same, but each author tells the story from his perspective and for his purpose. Some writers wrote more; others wrote less. But what if we could read it as one single story from beginning to end? This book does just that by combining the four reports of Jesus’ life into a single chronological story, using the easy-to-read text of the NIRV Bible. Take a new look at Jesus– his life, his miracles, and his teachings–and to come to your own conclusions about the carpenter from Nazareth.
This book was produced in collaboration with Biblica (formerly the International Bible Society).
Okay, I have not specifically read the above book, but I have read the gospel accounts multiple times, so I think that counts.
Speaking of reading multiple times- I am astonished and dismayed by the number of professing Christians who have never read the entire Bible even once. That should not be. Fortunately, it’s never too late to start:
The Holy Bible, English Standard Version (with Cross-References)
I like this version because of its improved navigation features on the Kindle. It’s easier and quicker to go to any chosen verse, and then to another one, and then another one, using this version than it is with others. However, this feature only works when you actually have a Kindle. It doesn’t work for other Kindle apps.
The United States Constitution If you are an American or living in America, you need to have read this before you finished high school. Read it a few more times- about once each year would be good. It is the law of the land, and it’s really not that hard to understand. Download the United States Bill of Rights, too, while you’re at it. They belong together. And be sure you’ve read the foundational document, The Declaration of Independence of The United States of America
Another excellent read in the political/American history arena is: Common Sense
“These are the times that try men’s souls,” begins Thomas Paine’s first Crisis paper, the impassioned pamphlet that helped ignite the American Revolution. Published in Philadelphia in January of 1776, Common Sense sold 150,000 copies almost immediately. A powerful piece of propaganda, it attacked the idea of a hereditary monarchy, dismissed the chance for reconciliation with England, and outlined the economic benefits of independence while espousing equality of rights among citizens. Paine fanned a flame that was already burning, but many historians argue that his work unified dissenting voices and persuaded patriots that the American Revolution was not only necessary, but an epochal step in world history.
Classic adventure stories from the fierce and wild days of old, retold by Padraic Colum, a masterful story teller who does a wonderful job with robust tales sure to appeal to boys (and girls) of all ages:
Tale of chivalry and a boy learning to become a man of honour in the days of knights and tournaments:
Men of Iron
And, of course, there’s the rich retelling of the legend of the noble Robin Hood, who robbed from the rich to give to the poor at a time when the rich had mainly grown fat by taxing the people unfairly:
Fairy Tales Every Child Should Know
by Hamilton Wright Mabie
I really enjoy his retellings.
Grimm’s are a little, well, grimmer, but there’s something deliciously wonderful about their special kind of darkness, too. As the marvelous G. K. Chesterton said, Fairy tales do not tell children the dragons exist. Children already know that dragons exist. Fairy tales tell children the dragons can be killed.
Tales of ratiocination and logic, not to mention mysteral and adventure.
Long John Silver and pirate treasure!
Most girls wanted to be Jo. I liked her, but secretly, I wanted to be more like Meg.
The cartoon is not even a close substitute for this memorable tale on perspective.
I know, I know. If you’re a neo-confederate you just find this book northern propaganda. If you’re even a little bit militant you find it patronizing. It’s pretty outstanding that this book can still draw out such emotional reactions to it 150 years later. I think it’s an important read, and I feel terribly sorry for the child who has never met Topsy, who ‘just growed.’ I wanted to be like her when I was a child.
The Story of the Odyssey
by Homer and Alfred Church- I look for Church’s translations and retellings when I am at booksales.
This next is one I haven’t read, because I did not know about it. I have read the sample pages and was impressed enough to download it to my teens’ Kindle. Church wrote most of his retellings, including this one, for his sons. The sentence structure is complex and interesting, but also sometimes challenging if you’re not used to this quality of literature. Because he wrote them for his sons, the original tales are mildly bowdlerized (meaning that details of any illicit behavior are a bit obscure).
Roman history, beginning with Romulus and Remus:
Nobody does characters like Dickens, and if that were all he did, he’d still be worth reading. Happily, he also does delicious dialogue and thought provoking plotlines rich in social commentary and worthy morals.
Great Expectations has Pip, Miss Haversham, and so much more.
A Tale of Two Cities
the best of times, the worst of times…. one of the most memorable introductions from one of the best of books.
Rich, rich, rich, exceedingly rich, in insight to human nature.
Pride and Prejudice
Jane Austen never wrote a dud, so while you’re downloading this one, if you haven’t already, you should download the rest.
Our 14 year old is reading this hilarious, but poignant, tale of a mad knight with a gentle heart now. I don’t want to tell you how old I was before I read it.
Mistress Mary is quite contrary until she helps her garden grow. Along the way, she manages to cure her sickly cousin Colin, who is every bit as imperious as she. These two are sullen little peas in a pod, closed up in a gloomy old manor on the Yorkshire moors of England, until a locked-up garden captures their imaginations and puts the blush of a wild rose in their cheeks; “It was the sweetest, most mysterious-looking place any one could imagine. The high walls which shut it in were covered with the leafless stems of roses which were so thick, that they matted together…. ‘No wonder it is still,’ Mary whispered. ‘I am the first person who has spoken here for ten years.'” As new life sprouts from the earth, Mary and Colin’s sour natures begin to sweeten. For anyone who has ever felt afraid to live and love, The Secret Garden’s portrayal of reawakening spirits will thrill and rejuvenate. Frances Hodgson Burnett creates characters so strong and distinct, young readers continue to identify with them even 85 years after they were conceived. (Ages 9 to 12)
Not only is this a wonderful tale of adventure with a dramatic race, few books will give children a better sense of one of the most dramatic ways the world has changed in the last hundred years.
I haven’t read this one, but I did read the sample pages and am fairly certain our 14 year old son will eat it up.
Find more great reads at Semicolon blog’s Saturday Review of Books