Professor Wu's Rulebook

45 places you can download tens of thousands books, plays and other literary texts completely legally for free


In an increasingly digital world, literature is evolving. Sales of e-readers continue to rise, yet the cost of digital books and texts has not necessarily decreased to the extent to which many initially predicted. With authors’ incomes collapsing to near “abject” levels, and with public libraries under threat from swingeing public spending cuts, we felt honour bound to provide our fine readers with some valuable resources that could help save valuable money.

While we of course advocate supporting your local independent book store – and independent publishing houses – and would urge you to purchase copies of your books where you can afford to, below you can find a collection of 45 websites where you can download tens of thousands of books, plays and texts for free. Oh, and these sites are also all completely legal, of course!

Browse works by Mark Twain, Emily Dickinson, Joseph Conrad, William Shakespeare, Geoffrey Chaucer, Edgar Allen Poe and other famous writers here.

  1. Classic Bookshelf: This site has put classic novels online, from Charles Dickens to Charlotte Bronte.
  2. The Online Books Page: The University of Pennsylvania hosts this book search and database.
  3. Project Gutenberg: This famous site has over 27,000 free books online (in fact, a lot of the books listed in subsequent sites here can be found at PG – yet we list the others as users may prefer different site’s interfaces, while the others below also help tailor searches for specific types of books or plays).
  4. Page by Page Books: Find books by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and H.G. Wells, as well as speeches from George W. Bush on this site.
  5. Classic Book Library: Genres here include historical fiction, history, science fiction, mystery, romance and children’s literature, but they’re all classics.
  6. Classic Reader: Here you can read Shakespeare, young adult fiction and more.
  7. Read Print: From George Orwell to Alexandre Dumas to George Eliot to Charles Darwin, this online library is stocked with the best classics.
  8. Planet eBook: Download free classic literature titles here, from Dostoevsky to D.H. Lawrence to Joseph Conrad.
  9. The Spectator Project: Montclair State University’s project features full-text, online versions ofThe Spectator and The Tatler.
  10. Bibliomania: This site has more than 2,000 classic texts, plus study guides and reference books.
  11. Online Library of Literature: Find full and unabridged texts of classic literature, including the Bronte sisters, Mark Twain and more.
  12. Bartleby: Bartleby has much more than just the classics, but its collection of anthologies and other important novels made it famous.
  13. has a huge selection of novels, including works by Lewis Carroll, Willa Cather, Sherwood Anderson, Flaubert, George Eliot, F. Scott Fitzgerald and others.
  14. Free Classic Literature: Find British authors like Shakespeare and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, plus other authors like Jules Verne, Mark Twain, and more.
  1. net: Here you can read plays by Chekhov, Thomas Hardy, Ben Jonson, Shakespeare, Edgar Allan Poe and others.
  2. Plays: ReadPygmalionUncle Vanya or The Playboy of the Western World
  3. The Complete Works of William Shakespeare: MIT has made available all of Shakespeare’s comedies, tragedies, and histories
  4. Plays Online: This site catalogs “all the plays [they] know about that are available in full text versions online for free.”
  5. ProPlay: This site has children’s plays, comedies, dramas and musicals.
  6. Public Bookshelf: Find romance novels, mysteries and more.
  7. The Internet Book Database of Fiction: This forum features fantasy and graphic novels, anime, J.K. Rowling and more.
  8. Free Online Novels: Here you can find Christian novels, fantasy and graphic novels, adventure books, horror books and more.
  9. Foxglove: This British site has free novels, satire and short stories.
  10. Baen Free Library: Find books by Scott Gier, Keith Laumer and others.
  11. The Road to Romance: This website has books by Patricia Cornwell and other romance novelists.
  12. Get Free Ebooks: This site’s largest collection includes fiction books.
  13. John T. Cullen: Read short stories from John T. Cullen here.
  14. SF and Fantasy Books Online: Books here includeArabian Nights,Aesop’s Fables and more.
  15. Free Novels Online and Free Online Cyber-Books: This list contains mostly fantasy books.
  1. The Literature Network: This site features forums, a copy of The King James Bible, and over 3,000 short stories and poems.
  2. Poetry: This list includes “The Raven,” “O Captain! My Captain!” and “The Ballad of Bonnie and Clyde.”
  3. Poem Hunter: Find free poems, lyrics and quotations on this site.
  4. Famous Poetry Online: Read limericks, love poetry, and poems by Robert Browning, Emily Dickinson, John Donne, Lord Byron and others.
  5. Google Poetry: Google Books has a large selection of poetry, from The Canterbury Talesto Beowulf to Walt Whitman.
  6. com: Read poems by Maya Angelou, William Blake, Sylvia Plath and more.
  7. com: Rudyard Kipling, Allen Ginsberg and Alfred Lord Tennyson are all featured here.
  8. com: On this site, you can download free poetry ebooks.
  9. Banned Books: Here you can follow links of banned books to their full text online.
  10. World eBook Library: This monstrous collection includes classics, encyclopaedias, children’s books and a lot more.
  11. DailyLit: DailyLit has everything fromMoby Dick to the more recent phenomenon, Skinny Bitch.
  12. A Celebration of Women Writers: The University of Pennsylvania’s page for women writers includes Newbery winners.
  13. Free Online Novels: These novels are fully online and range from romance to religious fiction to historical fiction.
  14. net: Download mysteries and other books for your iPhone or eBook reader here.
  15. Authorama: Books here are pulled from Google Books and more. You’ll find history books, novels and more.
  16. Prize-winning books online: Use this directory to connect to full-text copies of Newbery winners, Nobel Prize winners and Pulitzer winners.



      1. You know, this is greatly appreciated, but fer chrissakes, I have such a backlog of books to read, have ADD and don’t need yet one more distraction.


    1. Thank you guys.
      The ideea is brilliant.
      I also have a suggestion. I would like to find some kind of library with books / essays about the greatest books in a specific domain.
      For example Philosophy :
      Chapter 1
      Aristotel – The ethics for Nikomahius; a short review by mr. Jhon Doe – prof of univ of Bollogna.
      Chapter 2.
      Plato – the dialogues
      a short review by …
      Chapter 3
      Dostoevsky – ….

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Such a pity that the person who wrote the forward on this information has so many spelling mistakes grammar mistakes and missed spaces who would’ve thunk


      1. It may be a pity but more importantly we should all be grateful for the amount of work done to launch this very important project. How about an offer to correct the mistakes.

        Liked by 1 person

  1. Laughing at all the people saying, “Um, the title says 55 places, but there’s only 45.” Look, I get it. It says 55 and there’s 45. But aside from the error – are 45 sites not enough for you? You’ve already read everything by Chekhov and Shakespeare, and finally, once you were scraping the bottom of the literary barrel, you polished-off the entire King James Bible. It must be hard to be so learned, and so desperately in-need of yet more to read!

    How about a big thank-you to whoever compiled the list? Nice work!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Aw shucks Jennifer, thanks very much for the lovely reply. We have now fixed that typo in the article – our apologies! Hope you enjoy exploring all these wonderful literary titles!


    1. Most public libraries have audio book available for download. All that is needed to check out and download an audio book is a library card.


  2. Just a thought (without checking all the sites, I admit) are there ‘living authors amongst these? If so -t thinking royalties for the poor souls who flogged for months, even years, to produce just one books. Yes, I include myself here – banging head on desk over one chapter!!


    1. Spot on Judith. To protect authors’ income let’s list where you can read their books for free so they get nothing! Welcome to the wonderful world of internet fairness where the only ones who make money are the billionaires who own the sites.


      1. These sites draw on works that have lapsed from copyright (usually 75 years after first publication). We’re 100% in favour of supporting writers and artists to get the money they need and deserve (as you’ll see from the majority of our posts). As for billionaires, how we wish we were!


    1. Right, Nitoy! I have downloaded over 300 audio books for free from

      In fact, I was scrolling down the comments to see if someone would mention them.


  3. Project Gutenberg Australia is worth a mention it has a greater preponderance of antipodean authors as might be expected it also uses life plus 50 for copyright so a number of authors are here that are not on the US sites.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: