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Where to Read Books Online for Free

Updated on October 18, 2017

I am an information junkie

I don't buy every book I want to read. I go to the library three or four times a month and checkout anywhere from two to six books at a time--I've learned to let the heavy, large books stay at the library and only carry the lightweight ones home (I walk there).

In the interest of time and general information gathering, I attempt to find an online copy of the books I want to read before locating them at the library or bookstore. That's not always easy when a book is brand new or extremely popular.

However, sometimes authors release chapters of their books to online sources and sometimes current and older books are in a scanned resource on the Net.

In fact, current novels and non-fiction are pretty easy to find for free, online reading. As I begin to gather ebooks to read on my new ereader, I am finding free sources for those too.

Here are some of my favorite sources for reading books online for free.

Photo courtesy of nkzs.

Google Books

Not every book has a preview and most books are not available in their entirety on Google Books. However, if you want to read a few chapters or scan a book for some research, Google Books is the best place to begin.

Why? Because most books that provide a preview also include a table of contents and a TOC can tell you a lot about what information the book contains, and whether it is worth your while to track down or purchase.

You can go to Google Books here. You can also go to the Google home page, click on the "More"option and select "books" from the drop down menu.

The Best Thing About Google Books

You can place books you want to keep track of or return to in your online Google Library. You must have a Google account to add books and return to them easily.

The Google Library account allows you to sort your selections by "Favorites", "To Read", "Browsing HIstory", "reading Now", "Have Read", "Purchased" and "Reviewed". Of course, you can buy the book directly from Google too.

Another Great Thing About Google Books

You can almost always find the latest book releases here.

Your Local Library Website

Many public libraries have added, or are in the process of adding, a digital library checkout.

You can see Albuquerque's public digital library entrance page here.

You find public library ebooks by searching here.

You can find your local public library here.

Digital libraries allow you to checkout digital books for a few weeks and read them on your desktop or ereader for FREE. What could be easier than that?

Unfortunately, most books are not in digital format. However, recent publications often are. If you are looking for current books and information, this is an ideal resource.

You will need to have a local library account, which may require you to visit the library at least once to obtain the account.

Photo courtesy of kalilo.

University of Pennsylvania Online

The University of Pennsylvania online is a great resource that lists a million+ books for free reading. Search by author, title and subject.

Many of the books are history related and some are quite old. However, there are links to very popular books, too. I found a link to several Napoleon Hill books including Think and Grow Rich through this resource.

If you are looking for books considered to be classics or written by famous authors, this is the place to go. You can find Keats, Coleridge, D.H. Lawrence, Dickens, the list of authors is long.

I even found a listing for a Stephen King book.

Problem: Sometimes the links are outdated and don't work. However, at the end of each listing you are givein the website address of the original source the link directs to. If you are inclined to copy and paste that into your browser, you can probably find what you are looking for, eventually.

You can visit UPenn here.

Project Gutenberg

Project Gutenberg here provides free ebooks of outdated copyrighted books--copyrights do expire, eventually. Which indicates the books are probably much older and would be very out of date if they pertain to nonfiction subjects, certainly not a place to read if you are looking for current items.

If you are doing historical research on a subject, this site may provide what you are looking for.

Visit Project Gutenberg here.

Photo courtesy of typofi.

Specialty Books for Free

Romance, Law, Spanish

Romance Harlequin Books offers 18 Free recently published roamnce novels for download.

Free novels in Spanish are available from Don Quijote. org. Great for anyone learning to read Spanish.

FREE Current Releases

Read Any Book Online is a great site that allows you to read current books from an online easy!

Read from series books such as Harry Potter or Twilight, and from the Dan Brown books, Paul Cohelo's The Alchemist--great selection!

Authors include Jane Austen, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Dean Koontz, Louisa May Alcott, John Steinbeck and the list goes on. Simply select a book by clicking on it and it will show up on the ereader screen embedded on the web page.

(WARNING: Do not be fooled by the flashing "Download" and "Play Now" buttons--that is an advertisement and not the way to read from this site!)


Open Library has a goal: to create "one web page for every book ever published". With 20 million records already created, Open Library is well on its way to achieving a successful end to their goal.

Similar to Wikipedia, Open Library allows its members (membership is FREE, btw) to add, correct and comment on its titles.

Each book page includes a variety of ways to read the book online.

You can read a scanned version online or read Open Library books books in one of these formats:

  • PDF
  • Plain text
  • ePub
  • DjVu
  • MOBI
  • Send to Kindle

Plus, Open Library links you to The World Catalog book search site to locate a physical copy at a local library. You are also given links to buy the book as well.

Types of Books available from Open Library: cookbooks, sci-fi, the classics, plays from all eras...just about any subject you could possible think of! You can search by author, title or subject.

Open Library is part of Internet Archive a non-profit organization dedicated to building an Internet Library.

Photo courtesy of andrewatla.

Do You Know of Other Free Book Resources?

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      aquarian_insight 5 years ago

      I received a Kindle for Christmas, so looking for books online is a new thing for me. Before that I was carrying books from the library too. Thank you for this lens, it will definitely help me.